Home Schooling vs Public Education

For many families, home schooling children is a viable alternative to public education for several important reasons: Strengthening the family, providing adequate education, and to promote moral and religious values.

With a perceived declining in the educational quality of the public school system in America, many parents are coming to the belief that homeschooling can offer their children a better education and result in better opportunities later on in life.

Educational Effects of Homeschooling

Research on homeschooling thus far strongly supports the thoughts of homeschooling parents. An extensive nationwide study showed that home schooled students outperformed their public and private school counterparts in every category. In fact, many homeschool students are enrolled in a grade level that is higher than their counterparts of the same age.

Home schooled children have a higher rate of high school graduation, a higher rate of college attendance, and a higher rate of college graduation.

Homeschooling is About More Than the Education

But for some families, a better education isn’t the only reason to homeschool. Protection from the harsh world that encourages deviation from a successful path is another, as is the opportunity to strengthen the family.

The teen years are an extremely important time in the family building process. Spending six to eight hours away from the home can be very detrimental to a teen’s ability to cement family relationships. Over time, subtle changes can erode family relationships, especially during the more tumultuous adolescent and teen years. By providing a homeschool education, parents can prevent this erosion and help strengthen the family bond.

Additionally, many people believe that public education is not up to the standards that a home school education can provide. No one is more invested in a child’s education than his parents and a home school curriculum can help a child’s ability to learn. For instance, a school teacher may grade your child’s paper and tell him which answers are correct, and which are incorrect and leave it at that. But parents who are homeschooling their children, can spend time to explain to them why the answers are right and wrong, in order to help them learn more thoroughly.

Also, many parents believe that a child’s educational curriculum should include not only academic learning, but also the teaching of morals, ethics, and values. According to recent polls, about 77 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Christian values are an important part of our functioning society and providing children with home schooling is a great way to ensure that they are social and moral values in addition to academic learning.

The 5 Myths Encompassing American Public Education Reform

For over 30 years America has been trying to “reform” our Public Educational system. Yet, was it ever broken to begin with? It has in fact functioned well wherever possible despite some missing pieces and occasional mission drift. We can back track this terrific sham to 5 main premises never adequately questioned or disputed. Was it, and is it, fair or in our interests to compare this nation to nations such as China, India, Russia or other European countries academically? And, did we ever fully digest the drastic differences in national values, lifestyles, and overall accomplishments between the U.S. and those nations? We did not.

Since the 1980’s to present and in reaction to the Reagan Administration’s, A Nation at Risk commission on “our failing public education system,” education reformers have fully invested in 5 mythical premises:

1. We are to compare our national educational statistics to that of our international economic competitors

2. We are to align our educational standards to meet the needs of a future global workforce

3. We are to rely heavily on standardized test scores to measure student performance for international comparison

4. We are to blame teacher quality, or lack thereof, for this proposed failure of our national education performance output

5. We are to tinker heavily in the privatization of education throughout the nation

First, as mentioned in previous articles, how could we ever compare nations with different governmental structures, differing values, differing statistical integrity standards, and differing societal/class distinctions, etc.? For example, China is a communist country which imposes national educational standards upon its students, ignoring the uniqueness and intricacies of locales. They do this because they embrace communism and “the state” decides what, which, and where their industries are to be established. Their workforce is selected, tracked, and groomed from the elementary stage into adulthood. The absence of individual choice is trumped by a fierce utilitarian function embedded into their political system. This is not an American value and we have learned of the historical dangers of practicing such ideologies.

We are compared to India with its middleclass growing exponentially along with growth in software engineering, manufacturing, and medical industries. Their results at face value, is impressive. However, we overlook their impasse with issues of gender discrimination, class/caste distinctions, and racial barriers. While the US is no stranger to these issues, and certainly not innocent of them, we have put mechanisms in place to confront them, (though steadily losing their potency). Women are more likely to be educated and valued in the US presently. America still professes to value the combination of individuality and equality. Another historical lesson we have already embraced and implemented through our ideal of providing Public Education.

The globalized workforce affecting our educational priorities is a sketchy assertion at best. Why? Because it relies wholly on political agendas and policy decisions made during each US election cycle. Industry travels wherever corporate taxes are lowest and to where labor is cheapest. Since economic policy changes can be made within a single election cycle, does this mean we are to change our educational priorities along with time each time? Are we to focus on mathematics more simply because China and/or India are producing more engineers? Is quantity the issue or quality? And, are those nations producing more because of their quality, or because of their larger populations and more exploitable workforce? There was a time when America took pride in its citizenry and their quality of life, (or we at least professed this). Education rooted firmly materialism cannot thrive. The globalized workforce is a concept embracing the value of production, but ignoring our historical embrace of domestic innovation and citizens’ quality of life.

Standardized test scores may only make sense when attempting to justify funding from an outside source (a legislator) that is not present in the classroom, having no knowledge of a particular locale’s economic engine, and is a stranger to a community’s resources, challenges and cultural makeup. It is a one-size fits all suit, where a tailor made one is obviously best. Just as there may be multiple learning styles, there are multiple assessment tools to demonstrate learning and understanding. In America, we value individuality, individual growth, the uniqueness of community, and the benefits to diversity. Did we sensationalize test standardization to address educational quality, or to justify punishment and prepare for hostile takeover of school districts? This issue is linked to teacher quality. A teacher may only be as good as the resources made available, the support they receive, the development made ready, and the quality of life this professional may enjoy as a result of their commitment.

Lastly, privatization has been the cure all presented to the public at large. However, it subtly eludes the murky question of accountability. There is no guarantee to every citizen in the private domain. The private institution tackles admission as it pleases, administers discipline as it wishes, pays employees however it wants, and the bottom line is its ultimate concern. The private institution runs itself as a monarchy making decisions from the top down, appointing its nobles rather than collectively considering merit, and selling us convenience and speed while ignoring the necessary time to debate, analyze, compromise, and collectively agree. Democratic practices are lost.

These are the values in which we should be proud of and should celebrate: 1) we do not track our students, we facilitate them, 2) we do not compete our students against each other, but rather against their own circumstances, 3) we strive to value ALL of our citizens and their quality of life, 4) we embrace diversity, because we are proudly a diverse nation, and 5) we value our natural environment, our multilingual, multi-racial, multi religious and non-religious differences and recognize that citizenship in our nation requires advanced citizenship. We educate to create societal citizen engineers. America suffers from an education equality problem in distribution, NOT an educational quality problem.

Public Education? We Have Our Heads in the Sand

It was Pliny the Elder, a naturalist and good friend to the Roman Emperor Vespasian, who is probably most responsible for the idea that ostriches hide their heads in the sand when they are confronted by an unavoidable danger. It is all mythical. Ostriches don’t actually do this but people do. Are the parents who send their children to one of 99,000 American public schools sticking their heads in the sand? Are they unaware of what is going on in the public schools or are they in denial? Are Americans getting the best bang from their buck or are they flushing when they pay taxes totaling an average of $10,500 per student?

Here in the state of Georgia the high school graduation rates hovered near 80% until a new formula was introduced that revealed a more accurate assessment. The new formula divides the number of graduates in a given year by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier. Georgia’s graduation rate dropped to 67.4%. In Columbus, Georgia’s second largest city by population, the graduation rate computed below 50% in two of the cities eight high schools. Graduation rates in the Atlanta area also plummeted under the new formula. Gwinnett County dropped from 83.7% to 67.5%. Fulton County dropped from 85.9% to 70.1% and Atlanta City Schools dropped from 68.2% to 51.9%. Can you imagine any company operating at a 50% production rate? Can you imagine the U.S. government investing billions of dollars in a company whose success rate is only 50% to 60%? If you needed a heart surgeon would you choose one with a 50% success rate? Do we value our youth? We need to pull our heads from the sand. The 67% Georgia graduation rate is unacceptable.

Academia is only half the problem. Recent statistics released through the Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report reveal that there were 1,183,700 violent crimes in the 2009-2010 school year. Some of the violent crimes measured were physical attack with or without weapons, robbery with or without weapons and rape. 74% of public schools were the scene of a violent crime in 2009-2010. Amazingly, while the school systems reported 1.2 million violent crimes there were only 905,000 violent crimes committed on the streets of America. Many large city public schools report an arrest daily. If the parents of public school children would pull their heads from the sand they would be shocked to realize that some public schools are more dangerous than the streets of our nation’s cities.

A University of Michigan study reported that the big issues in school discipline in the 1940’s included: chewing gum, cutting in line, running in the hall, noisy disruption, violations in dress code, and littering. The study compared the decade of the ’40’s with the 1990’s when school administrators found themselves dealing with: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault. Many shrug at these alarming facts by saying that schools have always had these problems, they just weren’t publicized. Not true, things are worse, much worse.

Some parents make an excuse for sending their children into such violent environments by saying, “Well, they need to get out there in the real world. Better now than later.” How can exposing our children to a little assault, a little rape, or a little molestation be justified? It is heart-breaking to see parents who want badly to remove their children from such an environment but circumstances prevent them from doing so. Some have no choice but to send their children where they will be indoctrinated to believe that fathers are unimportant and homosexuality should be accepted as a normal lifestyle and killing the unborn is a legitimate way to avoid the consequences of the sin of fornication?

The 2005 University of Michigan study revealed that 26% of all school children are victims of violent threats, 4% have been threatened with an actual weapon and 24% have been struck with a fist. It seems we’ve lost our way, big time, in public education. We are being told that it is all about the kids. Are parents too gullible when they believe administrators of their local systems who they say that they are committed to providing our children with the best opportunity to excel academically? They strongly proclaim that protecting our children and creating an environment conducive to learning is a top priority. Are we are being sold a bill of goods? Some prisons, where Bibles have not yet been listed as contraband, are safer than some public schools where Bibles are prohibited.

School systems affectively teach us the failure of socialism. Competition has been removed. Compulsory attendance laws give the teachers a captive audience and help to destroy incentive to be the best at what they do. What if teachers had to compete for students? What if parents could choose their schools and their children’s teachers based on past performance? Unions make it impossible to fire an incompetent teacher and child predators prey on our children, like picking ripe fruit in an orchard. Charol Shakeshaft, a researcher and author of a 2004 study that was prepared for the U.S. Department of Education revealed the astonishing prevalence of child abuse in public schools. She said, “…the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” The report stated that nearly 10% of all students were victims of sexual misconduct. It’s time to pull our heads out of the sand. Would parents send their children off to a summer camp if they were told there was a 10% chance their child would suffer sexual abuse?

It may be unfair to blame public education for all the ills of our society. Our slide toward Gomorrah is due to many factors. Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar addressed the problem of protecting our children from a depraved culture: “If I were to stand in front of an audience of virtually any kind in America and advocate drunken orgies, getting high on cocaine, pot or any other drug, they would look at me in stunned astonishment. If I gave a sales talk on incest, adultery, homosexuality, necrophilia, bestiality, and even suicide, while generously sprinkling four-letter words throughout the presentation, there isn’t one group in a thousand that would sit still and listen. But the very group(s) that would assail such topics are the very ones who do it every day when they allow their children to listen to “popular” music.”

Parents must also share much of the blame for failing to build a hedge around their own children. Our children are not just being exposed to pornography, violence, and immoral behavior, they are overdosing on it. Fathers are commanded in Ephesians 6:4 not to “exasperate our children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Parents dare not send their kids into public schools without providing them an interpretation of morality based on a Christian worldview. We cannot isolate our children in a monastic lifestyle, but we can prepare them to live clean lives in a filthy culture.