In my last post I argued that educating children is never the first priority of public education. The first priority is always taking care of the adults that enrich themselves at the expense of the children though a destructive public education system. The reason that these adults put their own interests before the interests of the children should be self-evident, their lives are more important to them than are the lives of other people’s children.
Only one group will ever put the education of children first – parents. And through homeschooling, it will be the parents who will drive real education reform in America.
Of course, reforming education in this country is a long term endeavor. A parent who sends her child off to public school day after day, in the hopes that effective education reform will come about in time for her child to benefit, is naïve at best, and complicit in the destruction of her child’s future at worst. Homeschooling gives parents in America the ability to take their children’s education into their own hands, as opposed to hoping that politicians and other actors will all of a sudden care about their children as much as they do. And parents are doing just that, and in droves. In 1985 there were about 50,000 children in America being homeschooled, today there are over 2 million, and that number is rapidly increasing.
As more and more parents opt out of the public education system to homeschool, the public education system is going to become more and more stressed, eventually forcing them to implement real education reform that will benefit the students still stuck in the public education system. Homeschooling will drive education reform that reduces costs, is tailored to the individual learning styles of children, and creates education alternatives for parents to choose from.
The cost of public education per pupil in America is second only to that of Switzerland, yet the outcomes are dismal. With public budgets breaking across the nation, education is one of the big budget items that are being slashed. When a critical mass of parents have pulled their kids from the public education system, it will become even harder to justify spending so much on an education system that fewer and fewer children are participating in. It will become politically untenable to do anything other than to find ways to reduce the cost of education. This will drive education reforms that will result in better utilization of teachers, less overhead, and generally a more efficient delivery of instruction.
The current public education system largely serves one class of students moderately well – those who are more gifted* in logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. Almost all curriculum is tailored to these learning styles, and for that reason, these students do the best in class. They are the ones most likely to enjoy school, and they are the ones that teachers spend the most time encouraging. Most of the rest lose the love of learning that they came into school with, and see school as something to be suffered through as opposed to something to be enjoyed. In order to fully develop the various intelligences of each child, and to fully engage each child so that they don’t tune out, we must provide each of them with an individualized education that is tailored to their unique learning styles. This is something that most homeschoolers already benefit from, as parents usually adapt their homeschooling approach to the needs of their children. With more and more parents pulling their children out of the public school system, the schools will eventually be forced to tailor teaching to the individual needs of children in an attempt to convince remaining parents to keep their kids in those public schools.
Factory style, one-size-fits-all, monopoly district schools are largely the same everywhere in the country. While some receive more money than others, and some benefit from more parental involvement than others, almost all are comprised of students who show up, go to homeroom, and then hop from class to class at the sound of a bell until they leave in the mid-afternoon – all receiving generally the same dumbed down, empty instruction. The public education system doesn’t typically allow parents the option of sending their kids to schools that focus on the arts, or on the sciences. They don’t typically allow parents to send their kids to military schools, to trade schools, and most certainly not parochial schools. Each child is different, not only in terms of learning intelligences, but also in terms of the environment that they respond best to. To limit them to only one standard environment is to limit their potential. The superior outcomes of homeschooling across all demographic groups are exposing people to the reality that the public school monopoly system is failing most kids. Without alternatives to public schools, more and more parents will opt out of the public education system to homeschool them. When enough parents opt out, the public education system will be forced to provide real alternatives for parents to prevent the bleed of students fleeing the system. The alternatives, coupled with private schools and the propagation of homeschooling, will introduce competition back into the system which will benefit all children, even those in the public schools.
Though a large proportion of the parents who homeschool do it to escape the failing public education system, ironically, it will be the homeschool movement that will bring about the education reforms necessary to save America’s public schools.
* Sadly, those who are MOST gifted in logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence often do not benefit from the system, either. They are often held back by a standard curriculum that teaches to the center of the class, leaving the gifted student bored and unengaged. The Davidson Institute is one of the organizations trying to address this problem.