Could homeschooling be the next 'big thing' in education?   3 comments

“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.”
— Source Unknown

I believe that quote is perfect for the way I am feeling right now, about education in general. The good. The bad. And the b.s. that has become too much to stomach on most days. If you have been following the road to rhetoric, where everyone with an Ivy League degree, a column in a major newspaper, or tv show is an expert, then you know what I mean. One thing that is true, no matter how you dress it: Our public education system is in shambles, but it did not happen overnight. Some blame No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think placing the blame there is taking the coward’s way out. That legislation was a symptom, disguised as a solution, to the problem. As one of the most industrialized and wealthy countries in the world, there is no justification for huge achievement (opportunity) gap that exists between White students and those racial/ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, or those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FARL). Brown vs. Board of Education was supposed to eradicate separate but (un) equal educational facilities, but I think we can all agree that it did not happen as planned. And that discussion requires more than one blog post.

As important as those issues are, there is something else happening across the country: School districts are making significant budget cuts and eliminating hundreds of teaching jobs, as well as those of support staff, bus drivers, etc. Just today, the Cobb County School Board announced that it will cut 734 jobs; 579 of those are teaching positions. Just last week, the Fulton County School Board announced that it would slash $4 million from the arts budget, putting both the band and orchestra programs at risk. As I watched the news, a parent (and former educator) stated that she would have no choice but to homeschool her kids. The budget cuts will force districts to increase class sizes and her kids would not get the level of attention they need (and deserved) in order to be successful. I am still thinking about her words because I am inclined to speculate that the number of families who opt to homeschool will increase during the 2010-11 school year for that particular reason. Let’s face it: Teachers already have their hands full with current class sizes, ranging from 17 for Kindergarten to 23 for grades 6-8. Keep in mind, those are minimum class sizes required for full state funding. It is very rare for a district to maintain the smaller class sizes, especially in districts that have experienced consistent growth like Gwinnett County, because it is more cost-effective (so they say).

But here are some potential drawbacks to a mass homeschool movement:

  • Not ony will traditional schools lose kids to charters, but they will also lose a large number to individual or group homeschool programs;
  • Those students physically ‘left behind’ by the homeschool movement are the same kids being failed by the pubic education system in present day;
  • If schools begin to lose significantly large numbers of students to private, charter, and homeschool programs, how will they remain open?
  • Some states could implement tougher requirements for parents who opt to homeschool, i.e., each homeschool parent must possess a Bachelor’s degree and take certain courses to prove they are qualified (this is something I forsee).

I have spoken with a close friend about the possibility of starting a University Model School program in our community. I have researched this program and it is sound; all schools using it have grown and produced very intelligent and ambitious students. These programs also teach kids things that are considered ‘extras’ in pubic schools, e.g., arts, college readiness, and basic life skills. I also struggle with this concept because, again, a large number of students who could benefit will not be able to participate for several reasons: Either their parens are unable to stop working in  order to fulfill the commitment requirement; or they simply cannot afford the tuition.

And so begins my quest to find a way to open access to this program for those who would benefit the most. Oh yeah, homeschooling will be the next big thing for parents but not for entrepreneurs because they can’t make nearly as much money as they do operating cashcows charter schools.

3 responses to “Could homeschooling be the next 'big thing' in education?

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  1. My child attend an elementary school here in cobb county. We have been debating home schooling our oldest son who is 10 going into 5th grade for about 6 months now. Well, I did some research on homeschool curriculums and was floored at how advanced the information was for a 4th grader. I started crying and realized how far behind my child was. Now, he is advanced at the current public school level, but way behind as far as regular run of the mill homeschool programs.

    Now I work full time from home and my husband works full time out of the home. We also have another child who will be entering the school system in 2 years.

    What do we do??? It is a daily conversation for me and my husband and we are frustrated that we purposely bought here in cobb county for the schools. Well now that we are not happy with the schools, why do we live here??!! We could live intown and my husband could be home for dinner and forego the 3 hours commuting in the car each day!! BUT we could not sell our home, so we are stuck…

    Will we homeschool this fall??? I think that we are going to register him, give the school a month, evaluate and then make a decision. BUT at home we are starting a curriculum this summer. Actually, we are doing 4th grade again because when tested he is clueless in social studies, science and history.

    I would love to hear other personal thought patterns. I am hearing tons of parents who are starting to really have serious conversations about homeschooling their children.

    • In you current situation, I say enroll him and supplement what he learns at school. I do that for my kids. Also start him this summer…make sure that he is engaged and make sure that he reads, reads, reads! We are in some very difficult times right now.Very few people are in a position to sell their homes, leaving a lot of families stuck. I feel your pain! The best part: You know what you have to deal with and you know where to start. Feel free to email me any time with questions!!

  2. I just found this blog, and it looks really great so far. Looks like a place I can spend alot of time at.

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