When you participate in any activity which is not widely done, and which challenges the perquisites and powers of an established power bloc, you're going to be smeared from time to time. Thus also with homeschooling, which attacks directly the powers and perquisites of the teachers' unions (and, by extension, their political allies on the Left, including many in the media). Bryan Preston at Junk Yard Blog takes apart one such article. (hat tip: Wizbang)
And let's guess who wrote it, shall we? It's Doug Oplinger and Dennis J. Willard, whom we last met here, and who have now descended to citing their own reporting at the Akron-Beacon Journal as definitive, since no one else was picking up on their themes. Ah, yes, the "news".
What would you guess would be the emotional impact on a 10 year old girl of being hauled off in handcuffs in a police wagon to the local police station? That happened to a girl in Philadelphia who had scissors in her book bag at school.
School district and police officials said yesterday that they were following state law and procedures in dealing with students who have weapons on school property. They say that those rules demand police be called and that procedures call for handcuffing suspects regardless of age or crime.
Porsche Brown's mother, Rose Jackson, was outraged.
"My daughter cried and cried," Jackson said yesterday. "She had no idea what she did was wrong. I think that was way too harsh."
School district officials acknowledged that the girl was not using the item as a weapon or threatening anyone with it. The scissors were found Thursday morning during a search of students' belongings after something was discovered missing from the teacher's desk area, Gallard said.
The scissors, however, qualified as a possible weapon under a long-standing state law, and the school followed proper procedure by calling city police, he said.
Porsche will be suspended for five days, and the district will then decide whether to expel her to a disciplinary school or allow her to return to Holme, he said.
City police, meanwhile, decided not to charge her with a crime because they determined that she had no intent to use the scissors as a weapon, said Inspector William Colarulo, a police spokesman. In fact, police believe she had the scissors to unwrap a new CD, Colarulo said.
He defended the police officers' decision to handcuff the child and take her to Eighth Police District headquarters. All suspects, regardless of age or crime, are handcuffed, he said. "The officers acted in good faith," he said.
You know, if legislators want to ban dangerous things at school, they should ban thinking. Ah! Now it makes sense!
Steph points to a fine followup to the series of Akron Beacon Journal articles on homeschooling I talked about last month. After summing up the series, the Cato Institute's Neal McCluskey gets directly to the heart of the matter: "Home schoolers believe that some things are right and others are wrong. They dare to have a say in how they are governed. Apparently, allowing them to exercise these basic rights is the one thing that society should not tolerate."
Yep, that's what Oplinger and Willard were saying.
Apparently, a teacher in California has been banned by his principal from presenting any material in class that mentions God or Christianity. (hat tip: Wizbang) Including the Declaration of Independence and the writings of many of the Founders (and presumably including the Constitution, since it mentions God in the preamble). I don't know the circumstances under which this all happened, but it would make teaching American History a little difficult.
Doug Oplinger and Dennis J. Willard of the Akron Beacon Journal (annoying registration, use BugMeNot) have not just drunk the NEA's kool-aid; they've nearly drowned themselves in it. Oplinger and Willard came to my attention when Steph started talking about a series of articles they are doing on homeschooling, among other things either saying outright or merely insinuating that homeschooling leads to:
Government schooling has given every child in the US the opportunity to be educated at least to the degree of basic literacy and numeracy. For a while, government schools were able to provide an excellent education, but between education fads and dumbing down the material repeatedly, a cycle of degeneration has set in, and American government schools are now by and large slipping into a mold of barely educating most of their students. Government schooling does provide a needed service. It should not be taken beyond that point, though, into giving government oversight rights on all children "in the public interest", or allowing government bureaucrats to decide what is best for all children. There is a name for this: tyranny.
I reject both the poor education and the tyranny for my children: I want my children to have excellent educations and thus be able to achieve anything they set their mind to. I want them to be free, and to be good citizens (by and large, government schools teach children to be good subjects). I don't want them to be limited by lack of understanding. Government schools, in my opinion, would limit their understanding and poison them against self-education. For that, among many other reasons, we homeschool our children.
To lump us in with white supremacists, child kidnappers, child abusers and the like says way more about the reporters than it does about us.
Francis Porretto presents two interesting vignettes on government schooling. The first points to an article about Virginia schools teaching about Islam. While the article is a bit overwrought, it strikes me as interesting that any hint of Christianity or Judaism in the schools is utterly forbidden, while Islam is somehow a fit subject for study. Not very consistent that.
The second points out the motivations behind public schooling, and the obvious places it leads. Basically, given that schools and bureaucracies are both inherently authoritarian, schools tend to promote statism. Not a difficult leap, there, but it's probably true that not many people have thought about the connection.
I told Stephanie just last night that it seems to me that as we've increased schooling in this country, we've actually ended up decreasing education, with the peak probably having come some time between about 1910 and 1940. Since WWII in particular, the tendency of schools to engage in faddish behavior, combined with the Gramscian "long march through the institutions" that began in the 1960s, has led to a dramatic drop-off in academic standards and performance, combined (not coincidentally) with a rise in politicization of and activism in the classroom.
Yet more reasons why my children will never attend a public school.
about homeschooling and being a mother to four young boys and the things people ask you and how to answer. It's good. Go read.
Reading Joanne Jacobs just makes me furious. At least we know that kids won't learn the "wrong" things, like actual facts, judgement or Western culture.
One more reason to homeschool: your kids' teachers won't be Communists unless you are.
This Opinion Journal article by Diana West is interesting as an essay on why one parent chose to homeschool her children:
As anti-Christian and officially godless as Baptists would find the excellently rated, wealthy and very white public elementary school in Montgomery County, Md., that my daughters attended last year, it eventually inspired in me a deep and abiding faith: I came to believe there was no way on, er, God's green earth that I could possibly teach my girls less than they learned in that school.
Diana West almost identified the schools' problem: They are teaching religion, and the religion they are teaching is paganism. Paganism involves nature worship and the devaluation of human life and institutions (sound familiar?).
It is time to explode the myth that the schools are in any way "neutral," and to demand that public institutions quit preaching "paganism" while denying a voice to all other religions under the guise that every other view violates "separation of church and state."
Further, Paganism at its heart is a grab-bag of religions that are not major. That is to say, Zoroastrianism (monotheistic, transcendant diety and no hint of animism I can see) is a pagan religion just as are Wicca (dual-theistic, animist, imminent diety) and Olympian Revivalism (pantheistic, animist, imminent diety). These are very different religions; more like Mormonism <-> Judaism than Baptism <-> Catholicism. But they are all pagan. In any event, the philosophy that Mr. Land is searching for is not a pagan religion, but "secular humanism", a profoundly liberal (in the classic sense) and uplifting ideology of individual liberty and responsibility, agnostic to religion but generally leaning towards rational atheism.
And he's wrong even there: secular humanism is most emphatically not taught in government schools. In order to teach secular humanism, one has to teach logic, reason, scientific method (not Scientism as a faith), personal responsibility and individual liberty. What the government schools tend to teach, to the extent that they teach any unified viewpoint, is actually an odd stew of leftover classical liberal elements completely without context, anti-establishmentarianism, authoritarianism/obedience, political correctness, watered-down Marxism and a cult of Self.
It's a toxic mix, certainly, but it's not Pagan in any sense. Or laudable. Or socially useful. Or particularly American.
Apparently, it's a good thing Steph has high verbal ability.
At a San Diego high school, two teachers showed their students all or part of the video of Nick Berg being beheaded. By the time my sons are in high school, I hope that they are capable of handling the evil of the world and thus watching this video with sickness, rather than sick fascination, and without emotionally being harmed; if not, I will have failed my duty as a father. But not everyone has the same standards, and this is terribly inappropriate for a public school to show. It's also particularly inappropriate for a government employee to actively campaign against the country's actions.
After literacy, and even before more than a basic numeracy, the most important area of education is history. It's not just Santayana's observation, but the simple fact that you cannot make wise decisions about the future unless you know enough about the past to draw inferences. If you don't have a basis of comparison or a fund of examples from which to draw conclusions, you are likely to end up making very bad decisions. I am convinced that this is a large part of why Communism still has a following; no one who understood even a small part of the history of Communism in practice could support it.
It's still possible to stand on the shoulders of giants, but it's more likely that government-school students these days will be tied down by pygmies. In most states, there is no requirement that a teacher have any background at all in the subject area they teach.
Francis Porretto doesn't mention Gramsci by name, but it is Gramsci's "long march through the institutions" - an avowedly socialist movement - that brought us to the point where even math doesn't necessarily have right and wrong answers...when it's taught in the government schools.
(By the way, Plano is not far from where I live. It's a wealthy district, with very well-funded schools. This is a choice deliberately made, not a compulsion forced upon a district which couldn't afford to go their own way.)
I understand that hippies never liked squares.
UPDATE: GAH! I should just stop reading Joanne Jacobs' site. It makes me really annoyed at the stupidity of education bureaucrats.
A friend of mine made a simple and obvious comment the other day, the kind that makes you smack your head because you didn't phrase it that way automatically: "There is an inherent conflict of interest when the credential showing completion of an education is granted by the institution responsible for providing the education."
Yes. That's it exactly. The standing of the teachers' unions on education is based on the ability of their members to educate children. If they fail to educate children, the unions will eventually lose their credibility, and thus a large measure of their political power. The teachers' unions hate standardized testing and other measures of accountability, because these measures allow the performance of teachers to be judged objectively. Similarly, they hate consistent standards, because they're harder to game than feel-good measurements.
High-school diplomas used to be a measure of accomplishment, and many employers required them as a benchmark that at least their new hires could read, write. do math and reason logically. Because high-school diplomas were a benchmark, schools began to promote everyone they could, and flunk no one for any reason they could possibly get around; the administrators and teachers did not want to be responsible for their students not being able to get a job. Inevitably, standards declined to a minimum and then were eliminated altogether.
As the public education establishment deteriorated, college degrees became the benchmark of choice, because you could not guarantee that a high-school diploma meant anything, but you could be pretty sure that a college graduate could read, write, do math and reason logically. The colleges, though, were (and are) operating under a handicap: their incoming students are frequently illiterate, innumerate and incapable of reasoning, while being filled with an excess of belief in their own self-worth that often makes them unwilling to change their behavior. In response, many colleges are ... dumbing down. Big surprise, huh?
Many employers already test their employees, with any job offers contingent on passing the test. The tests generally measure basic English reading comprehension skills, basic math skills (simple calculation and sometimes simple algebra), basic reasoning (if these two things are true, which of the following is probably not true) and frequently also psychological factors. But this is very wasteful for employers, because there is no efficiency of scale - there's no way for businesses to rely on (or even know about) other employers' testing, so there's no way to share information. (Don't even get started on the legal ramifications of company A sharing testing information about fired employee E with company B, who then denies a job to employee E.)
I sense a business opportunity here. A company whose sole job was testing people for literacy, numeracy, logic and such could provide the bridge between people wanting good jobs and employers wanting good workers. By issuing ratings on a scale, the employer could match jobs to potential employees (for example, a computer programmer would need high logic, numeracy and literacy scores, while a telephone solicitor would really only need good speaking ability). Extras - such as a certificate of skill in various activities - could both add to the bottom line and enhance the job seeker's position.
The big problem is that of bootstrapping the process. You would have to get a large number of businesses to accept an externally-issued credential in order to get people to pay you to obtain the credentials. You would have to get a lot of people to obtain the credentials in order for them to be useful to businesses.
Must think about this.
One of the reasons that I cannot stand the direction taken by public "education" in the US is the reading materials. Gone are any attempts to study Western culture - I've seen reports on school districts banning everything from Mark Twain (racist) to The Iliad (sexist!) to The Red Badge of Courage (violent). But, apparently, there are still books that can be read by kids in public schools.
Bird Dog has a post over at Tacitus which lists some really outlandish examples of political indoctrination of high school students. The list is a bit partisan (only has Leftists listed), but still interesting and scary. Particularly the bit about preventing students from leaving:
Students say vulgar language and so called "Bush Bashing" were the reasons they walked out of two human rights sessions at Churchill High Thursday.
"Everyone was trying to get out and she kept telling us it wasn't over and she got all the teachers to go up by the door so we wouldn't leave," said sophomore Grayson Dahn. "They were cussing and saying the f-word a lot."
Frankly, I'm more disappointed than surprised by this.
Tell me again why a teacher employed by the government is teaching - seriously, not as a thought experiment - that the Constitution is inherently violent and unsupportable, because it makes it a duty of government to actually defend the citizens? Feh.
Zero tolerance means not having to think, and that is why it is such a good fit with public schooling. But this is more than just unthinking - it's stupid. (hat tip: One Hand Clapping) I mean, we can't let a little thing like actually educating children who aren't otherwise causing problems get in the way of just retribution for those little rulebreakers leaving their shirts untucked!
What is really terrible about this, actually, is that zero tolerance dress codes do provide a sort of education. They teach children that rules are arbitrary and mindless, and authority figures (teachers and administrators) are either complicit in their breaking or responsible for enforcing them no matter how pointless they might be. They teach corruption, bribery and toadying. They teach that school is not concerned with academics or learning, no matter what your teachers tell you while they work on their exercise routines after plopping you in front of a movie (honors English, 7th grade, happened to me).
Somehow, I think that's not the education taxpayers expected the government to provide.
UPDATE: Gak! It was 10th grade, as Steph points out in the comments. That's what I get for posting while apoplectic.
UPDATE 2: Kimberly Swygert comments on this as well - about an hour before I did in fact.
Kim du Toit makes a great point:
The other day our Carpenter’s helper heard me say something along the lines of, "it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy."
He asked me if I really meant that. I gave him the five minute explanation of John Dewey’s known affiliation with communists, his frequent essays and articles about the wonders of the Soviet education system, and his quote, "You can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent."
One of the most difficult decisions that a homeschooler undertakes is what to teach their children. A part of this is what curricula to use and how to adapt it, and what supplementary texts and materials to use, and how much to use events like trips as educational fora as opposed to making them a kind of escape. But above everything else, the hardest part is figuring out what your goal is.
Simply being "educated" is insufficiently descriptive to form choices around. After all, a child who knows everything about pornography can be said to be educated in that subject, and I don't know of anyone who thinks that is an appropriate educational subject for, say, 13- and 14-year olds. In order to make choices about what subjects, and to what degree, you will educate your children on, you have to have a specific defined goal. For us, it is to give our children the tools, background and knowledge necessary to be productive citizens of a free Republic.
If you ask any given parent of a child in government schools, they would likely list job preparation, preparation for college, preparation for being a good citizen and the like. Even though the schools themselves have been trending more and more towards social activism and pop psychology, many teachers apparently still teach to goals more similar to those of the public at large.
Teachers' ability to teach to those goals, however, is more limited than that of a homeschooling family. The reason for this is that teachers by and large cannot choose which curriculum they will use, and in many cases cannot even choose how to apply it. These decisions are made by school administrators, school boards (and increasingly by State and Federal school bureaucracies). Inevitably, this reduces the ability of teachers to decide what to teach.
Given all this, what are teachers to teach about 9/11? Something must be taught, particularly in social studies (the modern substitute for history, geography, acculturation and civics) and particularly to students who have a very firm memory of the actual events. To the extent that we discuss those events with our children (particularly our eldest, who is seven), we focus on the horror of the attacks; the necessity to prevent their recurrence by actively waging war on the people who committed the attacks, those who supported them, and those who provide the ground for raising up new groups to attack us; the bravery of the rescue workers and the passengers of Flight 93; and the necessity of pre-planning for disasters. At least, I hope we are able to teach those things over time, in such a way that they will stick in the children's heads.
Apparently, some school administrators think that the best thing to teach about 9/11 is ... nothing at all. What's really annoying about this is the lurking suspicion that the same administrators trying to slip the horror of 9/11 down the memory hole are simultaneously (if in different contexts) telling students that they are unique, and therefore should have high self-esteem (regardless of merit), but they should also examine the reasons the terrorists hate them, because as Americans they must have done something wrong.
Yes, I know I'm reading an ideology into this that might not be there, and certainly that is not explicitly stated in the story, but I'm having a really hard time picturing an administrator pulling this kind of crap without also sharing the rest of the Leftist ideological basket. Drink the Kool-Aid, and it'll all be OK.
Maybe I should be more charitable, and assume that the administrator is so feckless, gutless and unimaginative that she simply feels anything stronger than pablum is "risky." Or maybe it's too late and I'm too grumpy.
Steph takes a look at recent resolutions from the NEA convention. The NEA are a bunch of parasitic, Leftist, America-hating bastards who want to force conformance to their views - and those of their supporting partners such as radical environmentalists, "peace" activists, unions, the transgendered community and the like - who in any decent society would be kept away from children for the children's (and society's) good, but who in our society are for some reason exalted as the only qualified agency on not only education, but child-care as well. Why this is I do not know.
Not that I'm bitter.
If you have a strong stomach - and preferably if you don't have kids in school, so that your head doesn't explode - read some of these examples of school idiocy and dangerousness. My personal "favorite" has to be the kid who got suspended for having a prop for a school play (a broomstick painted black to simulate a musket).
Just read - but only if you really want to be angry. By homeschooling our kids, we ensure that not only will they actually know this country's history (and the world's), but that they will see the good points of the country, as well as the bad.
Nearly every day, I see or hear a story about the current condition of government schools, and am thankful that I got out of them when actually educating students was still considered important, and when it was still OK to tailor classes for exceptional students (in both directions) to make sure everyone got what they needed.
Consider how much of it goes for this kind of stuff.
I think that this - a story of kids burning down a playground - is terribly sad. There have been such incidents in this area as well, as recently as last year. I don't understand the mentality that leads someone to do this, because it is a very infantile reaction - wouldn't it be cool to see something this big burning? - and I was raised by adults to be an adult. It is one of the great mysteries in life why apparently well-meaning people would ever have come up with the idea of kids raising kids. I suppose they just didn't think of it that way. But that is what it is: you take a baby and put her in daycare, and there are maybe two adults around for most of her day (and they have no emotional attachment to her); you see her for a few hours each night, while you're trying to get her to bed so you can clean the house and maybe unwind from your own day, and for the weekends; then you put her in school with one adult and thirty kids her own age, and you see her less on weekends - and even week nights - because of soccer or band or whatever; and one day you find out that your little darling has become physically capable of burning down a playground and has all the moral restraint of a twelve year old who has never had any meaningful adult supervision (or, put another way, all the moral restraint of a bully with a gun in a land of rich rewards and no punishment). Where did it all go wrong, you say? How could this have happened?
My wife stays at home with the kids while I work, and I work from home three days a week. Our boys - we have four - are constantly around adults who care deeply for them and will correct their behavior as it happens. We homeschool. We play with the kids and follow their interests. We attachment parent, which means among other things that we try to mold our and our children's behavior to avoid punishment, and to fit such punishment as is necessary to the "crime" that necessitates it.
If we fail, if our children some day burn down a playground, there will be no question where the fault lies. But there's something funny about that: we won't fail. Our kids simply are not allowed the mindset that would allow them to be destructive in this way. But this is not a mindset that can be instilled in a teenager burning down a playground; it has to be instilled in a toddler breaking his brother's toy. There are no do-overs in parenting.
Porphyrogenitus has already sewn up today's award for raising my blood pressure to dangerous heights. He passes along articles from the Washington Post and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus about an incident in Barre, VT, where "[a] uniformed police officer persuaded a custodian to open a school in the middle of the night so he could photograph class projects he found objectionable as an American and as a military veteran."
While Officer Mott certainly has the right "as a resident and a voter and a taxpayer of this community" to take these photographs - this is after all a public place - the fact that he did this under cover of law - that is to say, while wearing his uniform and in fact on duty - makes his action iffy. He will likely (and should) get a reprimand, and possibly some remedial training.
This was apparently sparked by parent complaints:
Mott said he took the photographs less than 48 hours after attending a school board meeting at which several residents complained about what they claimed was an attempt to “indoctrinate” not “educate” students.
School officials have rejected that notion, defending Treece as a “thought-provoking” teacher who provides students in his public issues class with resources from the full spectrum of political perspectives.
This is balance???
I think that what bothers me most is that school officials, who have to see this after all, as they move around the school, didn't find it objectionable - not the viewpoints, but the fact that a teacher was obviously politically indoctrinating the students. I wonder if they would have been so sanguine if a teacher had put up an American flag as a sign of respect, rather than stuffed into a combat boot, or maybe a bumper sticker saying "Charlton Heston is my President."
By the way, the significance of the title quote is here.
THE EVIDENCE OF this overwhelming meanness of spirit is everywhere, abroad and at home. Even the administration’s efforts to justify the war in Iraq as one of liberation and declare victory cannot mask the human costs to American troops and their families. How many thousands of Iraqis are dead? Where are the ridiculously named “weapons of mass destruction” that Bush used to justify this invasion? Witness the looting of priceless antiquities, kitsch and cash from Iraqi museums and Saddam Hussein’s palaces and homes, allowed and participated in not only by Iraqis but members of the American armed forces and their “embedfellows,” the media.
Yet to question this war and its aftermath is characterized as at worst treason and at best anti-American cynicism.
Maybe these guys should reread this story because this is a fetid load of dingo's kidneys. Remind me again about how government school teaches kids to live in the real world? (hat tip: Right Wing News)
I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm going to fisk a teacher. OK, I can believe it. This article was posted online, but then deleted from the page. Poor Ms. Flynn doesn't seem to understand that on the Internet, you can't take back what you say. Because the article is no longer online where it was originally posted, I am going to quote the entire article, even the parts I don't say anything about directly.
FLINT JOURNAL COLUMN
THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION
Sunday, April 13, 2003
By Kelly Flynn
The public school system takes a lot of bashing at the hands of the media and politicians. Some of it's justified. Most of it's not. And having taught there for almost 20 years, I'm certainly aware of its strengths and weaknesses.
But when it comes to a well-rounded education that prepares students for the world of work and for functioning in a global society, the public school system can't be beat.
They take everyone.
Blind, deaf, learning disabled, mentally impaired or non-English speaking,
public schools take them all and provide the services they need.
And in my experience, that's exactly what some parents don't like about the public school system.
And for that matter, the government schools should be tax advantaged only to the point of provision of infrastructure. The per-child costs should be given to the parents of the children (in voucher form, if you want to ensure that the parents don't use the money on new cars every year or two). They can then be given back to the public school (which would by law have to provide an education for exactly the amount given to the parents, and would use that money for teacher salaries, textbooks, classroom materials and administrators' salaries), or used to defer private tuition, or used for homeschooling supplies and educational trips. Yes, yes, I know that this would vastly reduce the number of government-employed teachers, and make it necessary for teachers to actually be able to, say, teach in order to hold down a job (otherwise, parents won't allow their students (and the associated money) anywhere near those teachers).
Still, I believe that parents should have choices when it comes to educating their children.
Charter schools and parochial schools are great options.
The educational choice that confounds me, though, is home schooling.
Why would parents choose to isolate their children from a rich and varied learning environment?
Why would parents choose to pull their children out of the real world and shelter them from the very society that they will ultimately have to live and work in?
In extenuating circumstances home schooling is the only viable alternative, such as in the case of a long-term illness. I'm not talking about those situations.
But many times in my career I observed parents choosing to home school to keep their child away from a certain "element" in the public school system that they deemed to be unsavory, to isolate their kids in what seemed to me to be an unhealthy way.
School is more than just academics,
and parents do kids a disservice when they try to protect their kids from the real world.
Wouldn't it be more logical to teach them to function effectively in it?
To me, the most compelling reason for sending a child to a public school is because the public school environment reflects the real world: competition, teamwork, cooperation and simply interacting with a wide variety of people are part of the experience, as they are in society.
The social setting in a school is ripe with learning experiences.
People from all walks of life go to public schools: rich, poor, smart, dumb, bullies, sissies, all cultures and ethnicities. And guess what? When kids grow up they are going to have to work with people from all walks of life: rich, poor, smart, dumb, bullies, sissies, and all cultures and ethnicities.
Even with the help of home schooling organizations, home-schooled children are often shortchanged.
The worst public school has more to offer in the way of resources than most parents can offer at home, such as science labs, technology, foreign language, theater, large and varied curriculums, textbooks, a variety of multi-media lesson support, clubs and sports.
Science doesn't come from a lab. While we will provide the equipment and facilities necessary to basic experimentation in science (more, in fact, than I was provided in government schools), the more important part of science education is learning the method, and knowing when to trust scientific claims and when not to do so. This doesn't require a lab, and in fact the lab can detract from it, by putting results from experiments with known answers before (and in most cases in place of) understanding.
OK, we don't have a Dukayne projector. We do have multiple computers (one just for the kids), videos and DVDs, and will get what we need when we need it. I am hard-pressed to think of any technology that the public schools can provide that we cannot.
I speak German, though I am woefully out of practice. My wife speaks Spanish somewhat, though she is out of practice there too. There is a smattering of Irish and Welsh between us. We are going to teach the boys Latin, and we will learn along with them. We will likely also teach them other languages, particularly Spanish, which is in wide usage in this area.
A friend's daughter was in several plays at the local children's playhouse. We'll probably do the same, if the kids are interested. All of the sets, stages, costumes, scripts and so forth are available. No government sponsorship required.
I cannot begin to go into the curriculum resources available to homeschoolers. There are hundreds of curricula, on dozens of major and many more minor subject areas. We probably have a half-dozen curricula in our house right now, and we use the bits and pieces of them that work to help us teach our boys. Admittedly, we don't have the tendency of government school teachers to stick rigidly to a curriculum regardless of its ability to convey meaning to our kids, but I think we'll be OK on that score, too.
I refuse to use textbooks which ignore the important basics while striving to offend no one and manipulate the truth in order to make political points. Since this covers most textbooks, we prefer to rely on encyclopedias, real books, and source materials. The bedtime story for my two older boys for the last couple of weeks has been Jim Lovell's Lost Moon, about the Apollo 13 mission. We have libraries around us, and our own book collection, and we are constantly buying books as well. I somehow don't think the kids will suffer for lack of textbooks.
It is true that we don't offer a wide range of "multi-media lesson support," as we prefer to rely on actual teaching rather than gimmicks. But then again, I suppose it matters how you define "multi-media lesson support." While any given lesson may not have a movie, followed by computer games, followed by reading from a textbook, followed by discussion, followed by drawing a picture of how solving for a variable makes the kids feel about the necessity of defining a numeric problem space in such a way that it makes sense to talk about "solving for a variable," the lessons are repeated over and over again in different media. Not only is Lost Moon their current bedtime story, but the kids have toys of rockets and astronauts, and they have seen both movies and documentaries covering the space program, and we have a variety of other space books around, and I'm seriously considering building an Apollo command module from plans I found online.
My oldest son is playing baseball this year. For a while he was going to chess club as well, but he kind of lost interest in that. Maybe later. In any case, there are a variety of clubs and sports available to us; probably in the end not much different than what's available to government school students - certainly not much different than what was available to me when I was in school.
The teaching staff in a public school can be colorful, too.
A variety of teaching and evaluation styles forces a student to grow as a learner.
Teachers are even trained to teach to multiple intelligences.
How many parents can say the same?
Although I have a teaching certificate,
I know that I couldn't come close to giving my children the education they could get in a public school.
I couldn't possibly offer the depth and breadth of education that I know my colleagues offer every day.
Sure, I could go to the home-schooling store and buy a book on say, history, and I could read the chapters and assign the accompanying assignments. I could check the answers using the answer key. We could even take a trip to Greenfield Village. But could I offer the same depth of understanding as someone who chose to teach history because of a passion for it, someone who is an expert in the field?
Of course not. I would be a weak substitute, and I know it.
Parents who home-school their children have their reasons, of course. But the effects of what these students are missing remain to be seen.
All in all, a public education is the best deal around. It's a great training ground for the real world and, even better, it's free.
Kelly Flynn, a former area teacher, lives in Fenton Township. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenkins is working on a project researching the effects of the '33 quake on schools in the Long Beach Unified School District. If you're one of those who attended class 'neath the eucalyptus in Rec Park, or on the athletic field at Poly, or in the tent-like bungalows at Jefferson or at any of the other al fresco post-quake campuses in town, you can contact Jenkins via e-mail at pjen email@example.com . OUR NERVOUS, NURTURING SIDE: According to this alarming missive from the American Red Cross, "Now, more than ever before, youth are relying on the adults in their lives for reassurance and guidance.'
This is bad news for our kids, who have been raised thus far with an incredibly jumpy father. A UPS truck rumbles down our block and we're apt to scream "EARTHQUAKE!' and snatch our kids and hurl them through the living room picture window for their own safety. About the most reassuring thing we've ever uttered to our children is "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!'
This is why we're totally against home-schooling. We rely on schools not only to teach our kids about guns and sex, but also about the horrors of war, terrorism and other traumatic events. Because, after you strip away our almost transparent veneer of bravado, we're pretty much always packed and ready to bolt.
You just have to read it to believe it. I linked to the Natalie Solent article because it links to some other interesting ones. If her archives don't work (she's on blogspot, why should they?), the article is titled Want a little anger before you go to sleep tonight? and is from April 24.
During the first year of school choice, hundreds of African-American children in St. Petersburg will be bused out of their neighborhoods, leaving behind new schools that are only two-thirds full.
Pinellas school officials acknowledged Tuesday they are limiting enrollment in several elementary schools, including the brand new Douglas Jamerson and James Sanderlin elementary schools in south Pinellas.
The reason, in part, is that not enough nonblack students want to attend schools in predominantly black neighborhoods.
That means hundreds of students who wanted to attend the two brand new schools -- as well as the rebuilt Campbell Park, Fairmount Park and Gulfport elementaries -- will be forced to choose another elementary school, even as their preferred classrooms sit empty.