The State of the Public Schools 1
However, after reading another post over at Bruce Prescott's Mainstream Baptist blog railing against homeschoolers and everything Evangelical when it comes to education (and basically anything else), I have decided to offer 5 reasons why, if right now I had children, I would no doubt homeschool them. In order to get some of what I am going to say, you might want to read Bruce's article, as well as the one posted by Ethics Daily by Ed Hogan on Christians pulling their children out of the public schools. So here goes:
- I believe that the public schools not only don't prevent segregation, they actually breeds it. This might sound strange to a few, so let me explain. First, in contrast to the cheap, tasteless, and immature shot Prescott takes at Evangelicals when he says, "Public Schools are the frontlines in the culture war that conservative Christians are waging in this country[; t]hey have been since the day that they were integrated," I believe that most, if not all, true Evangelicals are not only unopposed to integration, but want more of it in their lives, as well as in the lives of their children. The problem is, they aren't finding it when they walk through the doors of the school house. What they are getting is a set of cliques that are both racially and socio-economically segregated. Every day I see people shunned from one group only to respond with contempt to others desiring entrance into the group in which they eventually find themselves. I overheard a conversation yesterday between a Caucasian girl and a African-American female in which racial stereotypes were being heaped onto Hispanics. Last week I was accused of "hating black people" because I disciplined an African-American female in class, though just prior to that event I had disciplined a white male. Unfortunately integration hasn't worked well (despite enormous potential and the best of intentions), to all of our detriments. It has just spawned new arenas of opportunity for us to become more divided as a people. And the public schools are not at all helping to educate our children on the diversity of our culture, nor on the appropriate attitudes we should have in dealing with those with whom we are not similar.
- The public school system is self-destructing and rapidly becoming a barrier to our children's education. While Prescott charges that Christians are trying to destroy public education, the opposite is true: public education is trying to destroy our children. Every day I walk into schools where the level of discipline is non-existent. Take today, for instance. I saw a new level of disrespect for authority when I actually had a student take a swing at me when my back was turned. And while I, as well as the student, knew that he was not trying to make contact, it was pretty obvious to me that he was not in an environment that discouraged such activity, nor even attempted to address it as disrespectful. I have been in other schools where the students would cuss out their teachers in front of the class, only to have the teacher do nothing or simply walk away, afraid or unwilling to intervene. Even good solid students who care are unable to overcome these types of distractions and learn the material that they so desperately need to be successful in life. Taking children out of environments such as those is not killing the public schools, it is preserving the life of the next generation.
- The level of education in the public schools is severely inadequate in comparison to that of children who are homeschooled. Study after study shows that those who are homeschooled academically outperform those who are publicly educated on both standardized tests and in regards to future college achievements. And while Prescott, Hogan, and Blow focus on one or two poorly written textbooks for homeschooling, they completely ignore these numbers, as well as many more. These guys claim to be for education, yet they choose to focus on one misrepresentation in one textbook, all the while their children are statistically falling further and further behind those same homeschoolers they loathe. "Isn't it ironic, don't ya think? Yeah, I really do think."
- The public schools do not teach tolerance of views and few teachers care to offer both sides of the issue to their students. Hogan (and ultimately Prescott) suggests that homeschooling textbooks can be used to "[teach] our children to be intolerant of others who disagree with us politically," yet anyone who caught just two minutes of the tape that high school student Sean Allen produced of his geography teacher's madman-like rant on the American government should be much more worried about what is happening with those who are receiving our tax dollars to educate our children. And not to mention the fact that many biology teachers spread out all across this nation are not even allowed to offer any sort of critique on the outdated and sorely unscientific approach to the "origin of the species" currently holding sway over our nation's young minds.
- And finally, speaking of taxes, I actually believe that teaching my own children not only helps the public schools out economically by decreasing the burden of already jam-packed classrooms, but it also helps out the economy as a whole both though encouraging greater competition by raising the educational bar and through the positive impact that better educated children have on the nation in general. The idea that Prescott seems to suggest, which is that homeschoolers and private school educators want to use "tax dollars in the form of vouchers to subsidize the education of their children in their intolerance" is ludicrous. Take my tax dollars if you think it will save the dying public school systems, but don't accuse me of wanting to use government money "to indoctrinate [my] children in values that are opposed to the constitution." I don't want tax dollars spent on indoctrination either. So, if you are so for the separation of church and state and religious liberty, why not give tax breaks to those who homeschool and do private education, instead of vouchers and call it even? That way no one can say they subsidize indoctrination, because it's obvious it's not just coming from the Christian side.
My final point is this: the public schools are in a sad shape and instead of guys like Bruce Prescott, Ed Hogan, and Steve Blow telling everyone how much private Christian educators threaten to destroy the public schools, why don't they just admit this fact, along with the admission that private education is producing better educated kids, and start helping to effect change in the schools by trumpeting these facts and pressing public teachers, administrators, and superintendents to raise the level of the classroom by instituting discipline on both the children and their teachers? They are right to say that public schools are being destroyed, they just missed the boat on who is causing the devastation.