Homeschoolers and public school systems cooperate in a lot of ways, but it’s hard not to talk about the success of homeschooling without exposing the failures of many traditional schools. In the last article, I explained two major symptoms of the problem, causes and solutions of poorly run traditional schools, and in this article, I cover the third symptom. We tend to avoid the discussion because our friends, neighbors, and children from our community work and attend there but, it would be a disservice to not invite an open and honest debate. There are some excellently run government schools by virtue of effective leadership, but there are also poorly run schools (both public and private) which cause families to flock to homeschooling and other education alternatives.
The foundational problems are the following: The “system” is centralized (which makes it easy to be controlled by bad actors or special interests). It is union controlled and teacher-centered (instead of student-centered), and students are often indoctrinated with socialist ideas that are inherently anti-American. Failures can be reflected in the fairy tale, “The Emperor's New Clothes." In this tale, the king’s tailors convince everyone the king had on clothes even though he did not. This is just as ridiculous as people trying to convince us that our schools need more money and more diversity to solve the problems, while the problems are largely left unsolved. The problems cannot be fixed with more money and more diversity. It is getting to the point that half the money being spent in schools is just to get the atmosphere right to start teaching. It would be comical if it weren’t so serious. By talking about it, we give parents hope that answers can be found to help their child. I talk to so many parents that are almost in tears because their children are not learning up to their potential and they have no way to solve the problems that plague the system they are dependent on. But, if we accurately identify the problem and symptoms, then we can solve the problems.
Symptom number three: A toxic atmosphere (schools are missing biblical precepts, parental authority and common sense). Powerful curriculum companies and others with power and money keep the schools toxic so that the only alternative families have is to leave the system entirely. Cause number three: Parents can't navigate the politics of school systems to make real change. The system is set up to be very complex and intimidating to the common person; plus, parents have to work full time and don’t have time to fight the system, and they are deemed the “non-expert” and told to trust the system and put up with the grief and confusion. Solution number three: Parents need to stop being deemed the “non-expert” in educational matters and given the power to choose how tax dollars are spent – not just be invited to follow the lead of unions or the PTA which can be inherently self-serving. A lot of these groups work in concert with powerful politicians to preserve the “government monopoly” on education. This solution would require that superintendents, administrators, and teachers remove rules and regulations, think outside the box and allow changes to re-invent the system entirely.
Parents can work toward curing the toxic environment of rules and regulations by the following steps: demand that homework is eliminated at your request, expect discipline for poor academic progress or behavior of all students, request that only parent-approved curricula be used and insist that schools promote biblical values – or at least remove anti-biblical and anti-American rhetoric. Parents should also demand freedom of religious expression for our children of Christian faith and other faiths, but not force any faith on children. For example, a school’s Halloween parade should not be marched through the cafeteria if that’s where those not celebrating Halloween are having their “party” time. They should also allow students to be absent more often if they are meeting learning goals. To create a vibrant, truly progressive education system, we need less diversity, more definition and clear boundaries (and I am not referring to race). We need to make room for more parental authority and become more offensive to those who are part of the decline in morality and discipline. Those in control are sometimes afraid of allowing more parental authority and decision making because those in control want to continue being the main broker of what is acceptable or not. They do not want to leave it up to individual parents and families.
Why does the failed monopoly of government-run schools continue decade after decade? It’s not because parents don’t care. It’s because parents have accepted their title of being the “non-expert.” Most schools do not embrace the authority of parents, so parents are forced to seek out other educational alternatives. Benjamin Franklin said, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and he was right. There are great alternatives in education now, such as charter schools, the “exit-option” program, and homeschooling. These alternatives allow healthy child development with consistent parental authority, excellent curriculum opportunities and the means to develop competitive social skills. The exit-option is a program for 16-year-olds to get a standard diploma instantly by passing two tests and completing a vocational credit. Chances are you have never heard of the option - again, another symptom of the failure and another reason why I believe that the “system” cannot be repaired, but must be dissolved and reinvented.
Please submit questions to be answered in this column to firstname.lastname@example.org. This column serves to build a relationship between the public and homeschooling families. Nancy is the director of Family Tree Private School, www.myftps.com since 1999 – a school for homeschooling families. Nancy has a Master’s degree in Educational Technology and Research and was Florida certified K-12 for over 30 years. She and her husband homeschooled their three children.