This one surprised me. I never even anticipated homeschooling as a topic for submissions to be included in the 2nd edition of Lifting the Curtain, let alone that a post by a parent in favor of something I always opposed would become the 2nd post selected to be a finalist for inclusion. Her post follows this commentary and introduction.
I have always had such serious reservations about homeschooling that almost always I felt it was a very serious mistake by parents. The reasons for those reservations have not changed. I was not swayed by two of the common arguments for homeschooling – too many homeschool posts focus only on the financial aspects (to many a boring, highly disputed can of worms — people don’t even understand the disaster of huge national deficits despite tons of press about them) or on the religious or environmental/attitude issues (a valid personal choice, but one that sometimes seems to ignore whether the perceived gains in environment offset the loss of educational quality if a good public school is available.)
No, my one major issue was that no matter how diligent a parent, I know no single person (even me!) could to a competent job of teaching such a wide range of high school courses as English, Chemistry, Algebra II, Physics, history, music, etc. To me, that always cancelled out any perceived positives I read about. Now – truth in advertising – I am NOT a person qualified to speak more than anecdotally about home schooling. Unlike the three years of research, surveys, and interviews that went into writing Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education, I only recently started to revisit some of my perceptions on the subject to understand why there is such an upsurge in homeschooling.
Please don’t get me wrong – as a teacher, I still have very serious reservations, and am personally against homeschooling when there is a good public school nearby. But I am starting to understand the urgency of an estimated 2,500,000 homeschoolers when the only available nearby public school is yet another failing urban high school.
As I read a bunch of posts and articles on it, I discovered two major changes that have me now starting to seriously look into the evolution of the 2014 version of homeschooling. One is that homeschoolers see today’s urban high schools (and apparently some suburban and rural high schools) as having had a major drop in the quality of education compared to the schools parents attended 20 years ago. And the second is a cottage industry for homeschooling materials a decade ago that has evolved into a major industry providing some strong support, materials, and services — current homeschoolers have to “wing it” in difficult topics much less than just a decade earlier.
So, given how bad urban high school education has become, I am now starting to understand why it looks like the “…lesser of two evils” to some caring parents. They appear to look at comparing a local urban high school that deserves an “F” for education – with teachers being forced to dumb-down lessons, administrations passing children to set them up for failure, a blind focus forced upon teachers to teach to standardized tests, teacher hands tied by micromanaging mandates that prevent teaching, music and arts electives vanishing, and only 25% of high school “graduates” seen as ready for college by the ACT testing service – and even a “C-minus” education a homeschooler could provide will appear to be a big improvement. (Most homeschoolers I have read about will not like my“C-minus” designation at all, but regardless of the grade, they feel homeschooling is a significant step up from the local urban high school.)
Sadly, in many cases, with a very dedicated and hardworking parent, the “C-minus” is the lesser of two evils.
So, here is a very interesting post by Ashley Kimler. She is a parent and writer in Oregon who actively homeschools her three children.
Why Homeschool? | A Mother’s Perspective on the Public School System
“Stand up, put your hand over your heart, and say the pledge of allegiance. Get in line and eat your GMO’s. Take this toothpaste home for Crest’s marketing campaign. Tell your friends and family to buy this imported plastic junk. You can do this. You can’t do that. You stood up to a bully? Good for you, but you need to stay home for a week now,” they said.
Well, at least that’s all I heard from the public school system. I’ve asked myself questions like, ‘did we really vote to do away with music and art?’ and, ‘If my son is testing at a 7th grade level, why is he bringing home 4th grade work?’ Like all other great American institutions, the public school system has been strategically replaced by a one-size-fits-all approach, implemented by those in power. No longer are our children’s educations the top priority. Backed into a corner with three kids who have extremely unique personalities and needs, I realized that if i want it done right, I have to try to do it myself.
Home schooling for high school takes 4-plus dedicated quality hours per day compared to the 8-10 they are at bus stops, on the bus, or lost in a 25-30 person classes at public school. By joining local homeschooler groups and playing sports, children outside the mainstream system can have just as much quality social interaction.
These days, it just makes sense.
Ashley presents a view that is provocative and controversial, but an excellent insight into how an estimated 2,500,000 homeschoolers view today’s urban high school education.