Follow the money ...

Saturday, April 9th, 2005
"Public Schools Wooing Home-Schooled Students." That's the title of yesterday's CNN article on education.

Why would a school district do this? Is it about educating the next generation of decision makers?

I'd like to think so.

It seems that more than one school district is trying to make up for severe budget cuts by... imagine this ... finding new ways to better serve students in their districts - particularly those who are not currently enrolled in public school.

This is a topic that I've wanted to write about for a long time. I'm no stranger to public education. Still, I'm the only member of my family not involved in public education. I spent eight years of my life in the American public school system. My wife, a devoted teacher, gave up her career in public education just so that she could home educate our children. (Why would she do that? It's a long story - perhaps I'll blog about it another day).  As you can see, I have input and experience from many perspectives.

The CNN article brings up the fact that many public school districts are trying to get homeschool families to send their children back to public school ... so that they can collect state funds. You see, although you and I pay state taxes earmarked for education, your local schools only collect if your child is in school. If you don't send your child to public school, the school does not get the money. The state keeps the rest. No refunds. Surprise. Perhaps this is why some school districts argue that families that choose to educate their children at home are hurting their districts. Sorry, I don't think it's the classroom attendance they are worried about; it's the ...

Regardless of their motivation, I think it is wonderful that so many school districts are looking at what they can do to better serve students in their district. I want to see all students benefit from a quality education. I even pay taxes to help make this happen.

There is MUCH that I could say about the topics mentioned in this article. Perhaps someday I will find the time to put all of my thoughts in writing. Meanwhile, I would like to quote two paragraphs from this news article that summarize a few of the reasons that Kathy and I choose to home educate our children:

Many home-school parents are fiercely loyal to the lifestyle, and to the educational benefits they see for their children. Some want to protect their youngsters from the peer pressure and drugs they fear are rampant in public schools. Others, like the Wilsons, home-school their children in part for religious reasons.

"I like instruction where the instructor, not just the body of knowledge, is important," Teckla Wilson said. "Home-schooling allows you to work out the pace that is best for them. And, we are Christians, and for me, it is important that I teach them to think with a biblical world view."
We would add to the above the amount and quality of hands-on instruction time. In fact, it was the amount of classroom instruction time (or lack thereof) that influenced my wife's decision more than any other factor.

I know that I've said this before: any parent with children still living at home - is a teaching parent. As a parent, everything that you do or say becomes a part of your child's education. Whether or not you choose to entrust your child to a school outside of your home for 8 hours a day or not, you still have at least 16 hours a day to influence and educate them. Make the most of it.  Children grow up fast.

I'm thankful that we live in a country where we enjoy many liberties, including the freedom to continue the excellent tradition of home education.

A tradition as old as the first family.

FYI: It's no small investment to educate your children at home. It requires a big commitment in time, expertise, and financial resources. We pay the same taxes for education as everyone else. In addition, we must purchase all of the curriculum, training, and resources that we use each year. Finally, most homeschool families must choose to have only one parent work outside of the home. I believe that the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the costs.

Discussion/Comments (4):

For me, it´s become totally about the lifestyle.

As Daryl at { Link } is fond of saying, IAATM (It's always about the money). For me, it's become totally about the lifestyle. Yeah, my kids ace the state required fill in the bubble test each year, blah blah blah, but even if they were merely average, we'd continue to homeschool. Until you get out the public school rat race you just don't realize to what degree that arbitrary government imposed school schedule dictates you life.

Posted at 04/11/2005 6:12:23 by Anonymous

Isn´t that concept of education funding interesting?

You have to send your child for the school to get the money, great. But what happens to the rest of that money 'earmarked' for education? Missouri is in the process of reworking the 'formula' for school funding. Suppposedly, gambling gives millions of dollars to education. No school ever sees it, however, because of the 'formula' for handing out the funds. And the new formula? It'll be based off the OLD cost per child that was pulled out of the air and not on the 'actual' cost per child. That'll help, right. HA!

So, good for you home schoolers!! Yes, I'm sure it costs you a lot of money. But at least you are sure to benefit from every dollar you spend, not lose it in some vortex.

Posted at 04/11/2005 7:58:13 by Anonymous

The March of Folly

I've been reading Tuchman's book, "The March of Folly" recently. Finished the section on the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation.

It occurs to me that public education is in the same mode - following policies that are not in it's long term self-interest.

It doesn't take much to see that long-term, public education is due to implode. Our school districts recently imposed costs on any club/organization who was using the school outside the school day. Hence, nearly all of us stopped using the school.

There have been proposals to remove sports from K-12 and move the responsibility of sports to another body, say a "club" or something of that nature. It will happen more often as parents get tired of sports being used as a method of extorting referendums.

During the boom years (even though on paper, it seems), the public school systems cried they didn't have enough money. Now that states are in deficit mode, the schools cry they don't have enough money. You can only do this so many times before people stop listening.

Finally, there is the never-ending spiral of teacher's salaries. Taxpayers will not continue to spend referendum dollars to increase teacher salaries - they simply won't do it. Teacher's unions continue to underfund the young so they can overpay the old. If the system's own members don't reform it, the taxpayers will, although, it'll probably take another 20 years.

Change? Why? Is something wrong? :)

Posted at 04/12/2005 12:12:02 by Jon Johnston

Underground History of American Education

I picked up a fascinating book at an education conference. it's called "The Underground History of American Education," by John Taylor Gatto, who is the former New York State and New York City teacher of the year.

Though I have not read the book - I've only grazed - the way that Gatto discusses the problem of modern schooling, is fascinating.

Gatto looks at the background, philosophy, psychology, politics, and purposes of what he calls "compulsion schooling."

An interesting read.


Posted at 04/12/2005 12:42:04 by Eric Mack

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