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 the monopoly of traditional, “brick and mortar” schools. 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 is a strong relationship between homeschoolers and the public system. Children and parents are friends within the community, homeschoolers can choose some services at their “home” public school – after all, they pay taxes for it, and the district oversees testing from and monitors homeschooling families. (The exception is when they are enrolled in a private school for homeschoolers, such as Family Tree Private School. Then, everything is completely private.)
Why do families flock to homeschool? Symptoms of the failures of traditional schools (where they exist) reside in the fairy tale, “The Emperor Who has no clothes.” The problems are wide out in the open, but no one talks about them, such as the fact that (for the most part) the system is centralized, union controlled, teacher centered – not student centered, and students are vulnerable to the indoctrination of socialist ideals inherently anti-American.
There are some excellently run government schools though that have effective leadership, and they share the common elements of high parental involvement with joint decision, effective discipline for misbehaving students, and flexibility for teachers to adjust curriculum content and discipline tactics in the classroom. But, just as there are similarities of well-run schools, there are also similarities of poorly run schools (both public and private).
I see three major symptoms of poorly run schools:
Symptom #1: There are not enough good teachers. Cause #1: A toxic environment exists, such as an atmosphere where kids say they don’t want to be; parents often blame teachers for students’ failures; and the administration pressures teachers to always do more. Solution #1: Give teachers freedom from regulations, rules, mandates and guidelines (within reason) and let them be free to be more autonomous. For example, no homework for students who do all their classwork; not allowing students to take electives if they are not reading, writing and doing math on grade level; and the ability to choose quick and meaningful punishment for willful disobedience in their classrooms. Let students and parents choose which teachers they want. Let them enroll in the teachers’ classrooms of their choice on a first come first served basis (guided by course requirements and grade levels). The best teachers will be rewarded with a more willing audience!
Symptom #2: Children have inadequate expectations and inappropriate boundaries. Cause #2: Many schools have a one-size-fits-all classroom so children are either bored or not getting enough help with difficult work. They often times have useless homework, are taught with curricula not authorized by parents (such as Common Core), and kids can be easily influenced by the presentation of anti-Christian values as facts, such as sexual preference is genetic, evolution of the species, slavery was only a uniquely American problem, etc. Solution #2: Design an atmosphere of appropriate boundaries (those defined by Biblical precepts) and discipline. These boundaries will create a sense of parental authority, belonging, safety and clear markers to define accomplishments and instill pride.
The next column will include Symptom #3, Cause #3 and Solution #3, and answer the question, “Why does the failed monopoly of government run schools continue decade after decade?” 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 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 3 children.