A Deeper Thought – follow up to a Quick Thought

After I posted that last post I just didn’t feel right. Something was nagging me about it and it took me a while to figure out what it was. Well, I think I figured it out.

I still think professional educators don’t have a very positive view of homeschoolers in general. And I still think that is the line they are fed from the top. And I still also think that they probably have some reason to believe negative things about homeschoolers due to those who have not taken it seriously or found that it doesn’t fit with their family goals and have put their children back into the public school system – because probably those children, and this is sure what it sounds like, end up behind the other public school students. It doesn’t make us look very good.

I still think that if you have a parent who is serious about their children’s education those students will most likely outperform public school students. Honestly, who is going to get a better education and teacher/student relationship? One teacher to 30+ students with tons of regulation? Or a one on one private tutor who can take as much time in subjects the student struggles with or move quickly through if the student has a natural ability or understanding there. And I still think that the absurdly vast majority of homeschoolers fall into this category.

But what I don’t think, or what I shouldn’t think but have often fallen into the trap of thinking, and which trap my previous post fell into completely, is the idea that public schools and home schools have to be against each other. You don’t have to go very deep at all to understand that local school administration and teachers LOVE their students and are NOT in it for the money (obviously because there isn’t much there) but are in it because they are passionate about teaching and empowering children to learn and grow and be successful. Parents who homeschool are just as passionate about the exact same things. We are all doing this for the exact same reason. It’s all for the kids (cue sappy music.) We may differ in philosophies and methods, but truly our end goal is the same.

So why does it often feel like we are pitted against each other?

I have heard from the homeschooler end that you have to watch out about those nasty school districts because they think that YOUR children are THEIR children and they are trying to take away your rights as a parent. And actually I have experienced a little of this first hand. It is still a little weird to me that I have to ask permission of my school district if I want to teach my own children, even though the state law is very clear that the district can’t say no to me. Still, I have to ask. And in my one (yes, only ONE) experience working briefly with a woman from the district, I very strongly got the sense that I was a nuisance to her because I wasn’t following the exact protocol and process that they preferred, even though I was totally within my rights by state law. I was doing what the homeschooling people suggested I do, not make her frustrated, but use a specific form instead of a district written form. (Honestly, I sometimes get a little peeved too if I have a well oiled system and somebody wants to tweak it a little bit. It is kind of annoying.)

I think it is a little bit ingrained in educators that they need to be the champion of the school children and make sure all the children’s needs are met because they just can’t be sure that the parents are doing enough at home. Parent’s cannot be trusted (Arne Duncan, look him up!)

There seems to be some underlying caution out there that the state is trying to trip us up. We have to have the Home School Legal Defense guys because the states and school boards are out to get us. We aren’t handing over our children and for heaven sakes, who knows what crazy ideas (like liberty? and history? and non-common core math?) we are instilling in our kids. I hear it all the time.

But here is my point. Teachers are not the bad guys. Even that district lady who looked at me and put on her fake smile and sighed is not the bad guy. And even the administrator at the company dinner who doesn’t really believe in homeschooling (except for me, I guess), she’s not the bad guy either. Homeschooling parents are also not the bad guys. In fact, we are all on the same team! Remember that shared goal. It’s all for the kids? We actually all do believe in that. And the fact that there are multiple ways to educate and personalize things for all kinds of different kids should be a reason to rejoice for all of us educators, professional or not. This means MORE kids are getting what they need. Our common goals should far outweigh the differences we have.

Personally, I am extremely skeptical of unschooling (google it) and I will never do that with my children. But I do believe the parents who takes that route are doing what they believe is right for their child and they should be able to do that. I am not that child’s parent and who am I to tell his/her parents they don’t know their own children well enough to make those kind of decisions. I also am skeptical of public schooling and I will never do that for my children either, but I’m not judgmental of parents who do use the public school system. I am HAPPY that we all have the choice and all parents get to make that choice.

Who is the bad guy? My opinion is that it is way up the chain of command. Remember that advice earlier, “research Arne Duncan?” Yea, he scares me. A lot. Huge amounts of regulation that hinder teachers from teaching or require them to teach certain things in a certain way (or NOT teach certain things) are the bad guys. People who use the educational system as a money making market, such as Bill Gates (and here), Houghten Mifflen, Pearson Education, and those other guys, those are the bad guys. People who make up the teacher’s union – not the actual teachers – but those running the union who sometimes say it’s all for the kids, but admit themselves that it’s really just about union dues and making sure teachers never get fired for any reason ever. As in bad teachers keep their jobs. That is what the teacher’s union does. Those are bad guys too. (I’m sure they are individually great people, but as an organization? bad.)  And groups that use the educational system to indoctrinate children towards one political opinion or the other, they are bad guys too. (See, right there with that one word “indoctrinate” I sound like a conspiracy theorist and you are free to have your own opinions but I have done too much research and seen too much evidence to think otherwise.) Furthermore, who cares which side of the political system is indoctrinating? I mentioned earlier, and it’s pretty obvious, I am politically conservative. But I don’t want any political party taking over the schools!

I want teachers to take over the schools. Because they are in it to educate children. Period. They love those kids sometimes almost as much as the mothers do. They love those kids so much that some of them have taken bullets for “their” kids. My heart aches in gratitude for those teachers. (And I have absolutely ZERO problem in having those teachers refer to those students as “their” kids.)

I do not like that sometimes I feel it is me against the school or the homeschoolers against the district. I do not like that I sometimes feed those feelings within myself to point out how administrators are wrong and they just don’t know. That is pride and I have been taught to beware of it.

So I asked at the end of the last post, regarding those subtle negative feelings we two groups (homeschoolers and local admin and teachers) sometimes have for each other, if changing that and getting rid of that even mattered.

I do think it matters. But it is so big and I am just one mom.

So I will work on changing myself. I will not make myself seem better or more educated than my professional educator neighbors (you know, in the biblical sense of the word). I will not point out their prejudices and mistakes, and hopefully they will not point out mine. (because really I am about to point out all my mistakes all by myself throughout this entire blog!) I will change my mindset and see them as my co-workers in the field of education and not my adversary.

That is what I can do, I guess.

My “Quick Thought” was really just quick to judge and I apologize for that.