Except that I'm not homeschooling my children; we're unschooling.
And even though I'm that weirdo, I'm also a former elementary school teacher (and still an employee, though not currently on the payroll), so a lot of my friends and neighbours seek me out to ask questions about the local school (although I've never worked there), their children's teachers, school board policies, rules and homework, and other public-education-related issues.
Here are some of the recent questions I've been asked and comments I've heard:
- My child's teacher assigns the same homework every day for the whole school year. Isn't that a bit redundant? What can I do about it?
- Should I be worried that my child went from B+ in math D- in one term? What should I do about it?
- I'm so offended that my child's teacher asked me to volunteer in the classroom! Doesn't she know I have a baby at home?
- The teacher gave my child a C+ in reading. Now she'll be 'labelled' for the rest of her school life. Should I complain to the principal?
- The new principal is a total jerk! She yelled at me because my child has been late 60 times. She needs to get over it.
- Can I tell the principal that I don't want D_____ in my child's class again this year? Two years of the entire class being subjected to his tantrums is enough. I mean, I get it that he's Special Needs, but doesn't my child deserve some attention?
- Am I allowed to tell the school that I won't be making my child do homework?
- Am I allowed to send my child to school every other day?
Friends, the problem with the public education system isn't The Problem. The System is the The Problem.
Every scenario described above can be reduced to this:
- I'm not happy with the status quo. How do I change the status quo?
There is no other solution. The status quo is not a lot of small problems that all need individual solutions. No. The status quo is an institution that is destroying the joy of children and robbing them of their freedom. An institution is what it is; it is unchangeable.
We cannot seek to change the institution--the status quo--by asking how to get the teacher to give less homework or more homework or by having more bake sales or fewer bake sales. Those are the wrong questions.
The question to ask is this:
If I don't like the public education system, do I have to use it?
No, friends, you do not.
You are a consumer. Public education is a product. If you don't like the product, stop using it.
If you (and enough other people) reject the status quo, it will cease to exist. But what will replace it? you ask. You don't need to know the answer to that question because nothing can replace it until it is gone. It cannot be tweaked into improvement; it can only be rejected and replaced.
You do not have to choose to accept the status quo.
I reject it. And I have no regrets.
Tomorrow: School will not solve your child's problems