Social Question

meagan's avatar

Parents, how do you feel about your children going to public school?

Asked by meagan (4625 points ) April 22nd, 2010

Do you not worry about terrible things happening? A month or so ago, a really young child committed suicide in my state while at school.

I’m not sure I could have children and not worry about things like school shootings. How do you cope, or have you even thought about this?

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109 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

When I have kids I will have them homeschooled

ShiningToast's avatar

My kids will go to public school unless the nearest one is absolutely, positively god-awful. Public school is like the real world, why shelter you kids from things that they’ll have to learn to cope with anyways?

Shooting can happen anywhere.

YARNLADY's avatar

The incidents you read about in the news are few and far between. They are by far the exception, rather than the rule. I have also read that children were killed in a McDonalds by a mad gunman. You cannot protect them from the freak occurrences.

I homeschooled my sons and grandsons for totally different reasons.

thriftymaid's avatar

I was very comfortable with the schools my children attended. I have to admit, there are only four school systems in my state that I would have sent them to. If I had not lived in one of those jurisdictions, I would have sent them to private school.

DarkScribe's avatar

As this is an international forum, the thing that you need to be careful of with this question is that “Public School” has very different meanings between the US and other UK or Commonwealth countries. In the US it is Government school, in UK etc., it is a (often very exclusive) private school. In the UK it is primarily wealthy or middle class people who have a public school education.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Having had children in parochial schools and public schools, the children are the same, the behaviors are the same. The parents in parochial schools are oblivious to what goes on.

jeanmay's avatar

I don’t think shootings or suicides would be the thing that put me off. I can’t hide my son from the world. More important for me is the quality of the education he receives, that he is taught by conscientious, intelligent teachers, and that the location is suitable.

Cruiser's avatar

I went to both public and private Catholic schools in the city of Chicago. My parents yanked me out of the Catholic Private schools because of the numerous “issues” I encountered while there. And now that my own kids are in suburban public schools, I know of many families who are in the local private systems and again there appear to be similar “issues” no matter where you go.

SuperMouse's avatar

I have three children – all of them attend public schools and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All three are receiving excellent educations by qualified, talented teachers and I am confident they will be well prepared for life. Home schooled children or students in private schools are as likely to be jerks as any other students.

I do not worry about them committing suicide or being shot or kidnapped or any other horrible thing because of my decision to send them to their local school. I don’t worry about these things any more than I do about these things happening randomly in any other situation.

janbb's avatar

I am a strong believer in supporting the public school system. My kids went to a decent, not stellar, suburban school system and have done remarkably well. On the evening of the Columbine shootings, I went to the school play that my son’s girlfriend had worked on and sat and cried. But it wasn’t because I felt the kids were more unsafe in school than out of it. We all have to live our lives the best way we can and not be paralyzed by fear of what might happen.

Snarp's avatar

My kids will go to public schools. I went to public school and it was fine. There are problems to be sure, and good and bad schools, but I think it is premature and foolhardy to write off public education. Frankly, schools aren’t that much different from when I was in school, bullies, gangs, and guns are nothing new, certainly not since my childhood. I believe in the public education system, despite its flaws, and I think my kids will be better off for having lived through some adversity, overcome challenges, and had to interact and get along with a wide variety of different people from different backgrounds. You know, like the real world.

School shootings are exceedingly rare. Suicides are less rare, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with public schools in general. There are plenty of private school kids who kill themselves, and a private school shooting may not have happened yet, but it’s no less likely than a public school shooting.

MissAusten's avatar

We’ve been happy, on the whole, with the public schools here. We moved to this town mainly because of the school system’s reputation, which is much better than the town we used to live in. For example, my daughter started kindergarten in our old school district. The expectations and standards were not very high, and the teacher had zero interest in adapting any of the lesson plans to fit the kids’ individual levels.

When we moved, the difference was immediately apparent. I’ve had my own frustrations from time to time (the grade school principal drives me crazy), but on the whole the schools here are excellent. Some teachers are better than others, of course. Now that my daughter is in middle school, I am constantly amazed at what she is learning and doing. Part of it is the technology, and part of it is the creativity of the teachers. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was building a robot in Science. Before that, they reenacted the Ellis Island experience for Social Studies. She’s designed her own board games, dissected virtual sheep eyes, and has access to a school library that rivals the town library. She has PE every day, Spanish every other day, and the opportunity to try out various sports and academic programs through the schools intramurals. She’s in 5th grade. I’m pretty sure there were still kids eating glue in my 5th grade class.

As for worrying about school shootings, who doesn’t think of it from time to time? I know my kids will get a better education than if I tried to teach them. I already have a hard time helping with my daughter’s math homework! You never know what can happen, but the odds of a school shooting are actually quite low, much lower that the chance of dying in a car accident or from an illness.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If I had children,I would send them to public school.in a land far,far away….;)

snowberry's avatar

IMHO, any option is better than public school.

Trillian's avatar

I’m fine with my kids going to public school. I can make up for anything that I feel is lacking.

snowberry's avatar

@Snarp, I’m not much impressed with their standards, or philosophy for starters. And I think the system is broken and not fixable within my lifetime. Still, I know that it can produce good students, but I think that’s probably more a function of parental support and good discipline rather than anything else. I’ve had kids in public school, private school, and homeschool, so I’m not clueless. It’s just not my first choice for sure.

janbb's avatar

@snowberry The “public schools” are kind of a monolith to dismiss; there is a such a variation in the quality of school systerms, isn’t there?

Storms's avatar

I would never give my children over to the government for indoctrination.

snowberry's avatar

Yup, there is. But it just provides so many distractions, not the least of which are the laws that are intended to “help”. Like the Tourettes kid that was led around by all the bullies in school and goaded into fighting. They talked him into threatening my son and attacking him, cheering him on all the while. When I asked the principal why they didn’t protect this Tourettes kid from the bullies, he told me his hands were tied. That sealed it for me.

janbb's avatar

@Storms Where do you take them for indoctrination?

snowberry's avatar

LOL, and indoctrination starts when you enroll them in school…

Storms's avatar

@janbb The Church of Scientology. Just for lulz.

janbb's avatar

@snowberry I understand your frustration after reading that post, but just realize that not all schools are the same.

Snarp's avatar

@snowberry Your anecdote is certainly reflective of a problem at a particular school, but what are the standards and philosophy of “public schools” exactly (keeping in mind that that means thousands of schools in thousands of districts across the country)? What is irrevocably broken about the system?

I don’t mean to pick on you, but I find that with most debates of this nature what happens is people start talking in vague generalities and bumper sticker slogans without having any concrete details of what they really think is wrong or what would be right instead, or else they focus in on narrow anecdotes and extrapolate that to an indictment of an entire nationwide system that is really made up of many different state systems, local districts, and schools.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @janbb that public schools vary throughout the country and it is hard to generalize that they are all bad or good. I would send my children to public school, if the school near me were good and safe, I would consider private school if the public schools were of a concern to me, and I am pro-schooling, but not sure I am disciplined enough to get my act together to do that for my children. I think there are many factors for what school is right for your child. Every child is an individual and every school district is different. However, in general, I feel public school, especially larger public high schools can provide a larger variety of classes and opportunities for children to pursue and discover interests in my opinion.

@Storms This indoctrination you speak of, what specifically are you referring to?

Seek's avatar

As long as I live in Florida, my son will not darken the door of a public school.

He will not be brought up in any environment that punishes high-achievers by forcing them to work at the pace of the slowest, most disinterested student. He will not be subjected to a system that determines a school’s budget based on standardised test scores – which invariably leads to valuable class time being spent learning how to pass a specific test, as opposed to learning any actual material.

janbb's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Pretty soon that probably won’t be an issue as there may not be any left. =P

Storms's avatar

Teaching them what to think (State approved history, philosophy and ethos) instead of how to think. Drilling a false sense of unconditional self-esteem into their heads.

Why spend time at home de-programming them when I could just avoid it in the first place?

wundayatta's avatar

It’s always a difficult choice for middle class liberals who believe in public school but live in places where the schools are really crappy. We were told that it is most important to have the best education when your child is younger. It’s better to invest your money earlier, rather than later.

Our daughter is graduating from a very good private school this year and is headed off to public high school next year. She’ll be in an elite program in an elite school. Even so, the school does not have the amenities that the private high schools have. Of course, it doesn’t cost 28K per year, either. We have plans to finally address some home maintenance issues we have been postponing for the last ten years or so.

I believe in public education, and I wish every school was as good as every other. But schools depend on preparation of their students, and a student from an educated family will be very different from a student from a family living in poverty. While it would be good to have them rub shoulders and learn about each other, a school where 99% of the kids live in poverty just isn’t going to be able to challenge a kid from a middle class family. Nor will it be able to teach that child anything.

I’m fortunate to live in a city where there are choices in high schools. The application process is good practice for when it is time to apply to college. The school my daughter will go to is probably the oldest continuously operating public school in the nation. She will be in the 273rd class. It has a very strong alumni club that raises lots of money and helps give the school at least some facilities that are as good as private schools. Another advantage this school has is that it is big—more than 2000 students. That means there are many more course options. I think my daughter will do very well there.

JLeslie's avatar

@Storms I see. Do you feel public schools are trying to brainwash children into being liberals? That is what my exboyfriends wife talks about. Although, when I asked my exboyfriend if he felt when we went to high school that any teacher tried to influence us politically or religiously he opted to take the 5th to save his marriage. He knows that is total bullshit, the only time government or politics came up was in Government class and that was just to learn the basics like there are three branches of government.

I do agree that History is sometimes distorted, and I would be hesitant to send my children to the public school in my area, but would be find sending them where I used to live. I do think schools still teach how to think, not everything is taught to a test from what I have observed.

Storms's avatar

@JLeslie I wouldn’t say that there’s a conspiracy to brainwash children to be liberals. I would say that the public school system tries to create a false impression of reality in which children are instilled with faulty premises that lead them to a worldview. The precise distortion is hard to pin down but it seems that the system attempts to make young skulls full of mush perceive the federal government as always having had as much authority over the states as it has now, if not more, or that the federal government must grow to achieve its rightful size.

I can indeed recall teachers trying to influence me politically or religiously even though I agreed with it at the time. But that’s just anecdotal. I’d offer as evidence which important events are left out from the average history curriculum or the overall idealogical bent of teachers.

Coloma's avatar

I live in a rural community and the county ranks high on a good public education system.

My daughter graduated a few years ago from a brand new high school as the 2nd graduating class since it’s opening.

I had no complaints about her education, and did entertain homeschooling at one point, but, as an only child I felt the socializing aspect of being a part of a peer group was equally important.

I can say that while kids everywhere eventually end up being exposed to all sorts of unsavory input, that raising kids in a more rural environment does delay that process by at least several years.

For one they can’t just run off after school and do whatever they want when everyone lives on 5–20 acre parcels spread out over the countryside.

If you don’t take them, they don’t go So you maintain ‘control’ a wee bit longer. lol

Snarp's avatar

Schools teach kids an awful lot of things in an awful lot of ways. I strongly believe they will benefit from the mix of world views they will be exposed to in public schools and I have full confidence that any ideas about politics, religion, or morality that I attempt to instill in them will either stand the test of combat with any ideas they encounter at school, or be found rightfully wanting. Any small amount of “indoctrination” they may receive at school should be easily countered by an involved parent. That is of course, assuming that what you want your children to believe can actually stand up to rigorous investigation. If not, then they shouldn’t believe it. It helps that I don’t live in Texas where facts included in text books are altered at the whim of a highly politicized conservative school board, but even if I did I would trust that my children could critically evaluate ideas.

Frankly, I graduated from high school with some ridiculous notions in my head, and some of my teachers would have agreed with them and others not. Life helped me to sort them out and discover which were worthwhile. Ultimately school was a pretty small contributor to my long term world view.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Snarp Unfortunately, since Texas is the biggest purchaser of school textbooks in the country, they pretty much dictate what’s in the books for everyone.

janbb's avatar

@Snarp I agree. I know people homeschool for a variety of reasons and often with great success, but I’ve felt it was somewhat hubristic to think your kids should only be exposed to your ideas and abillity to impart knowledge. Mine have gotten so much of our worldview already and also have become their own people through their own thinking and experiences. Selfishly also, why wouldn’t you want your kids somewhere else for 8 hours a day? Especially if it’s free! :-)

Storms's avatar

I’ll give my kids a fantastic education, give them the benefit of critical thinking, equip them to come to their own independent conclusions and separate them from the idealism-killing “social structure” of government schooling while at the same time introducing them to multiple healthy relationships.

So I can’t think of a single logical reason to put them in those cesspools.

Seek's avatar

@janbb

I think it takes a certain type of person to homeschool “correctly” – that is, in a way that promotes self-awareness and individual thought and growth, as well as imparting the essential tools of continuing education.

I hope to be one of those. I sincerely want my child to challenge my ideas, and to research what lies beyond what I know already. I lived 20 years in a family that held “My way or you’re going to burn in hell” ideals, and that is something I will do my part to eliminate in the coming generations.

I also thing it’s funny that one of the most common arguments against homeschooling is a lack of “socialization”. Since when are kids supposed to socialise in school? Isn’t that part of the problem of public school – the fact that there are too many kids for one teacher to keep their brains focused on the lesson as opposed to what colour shoes they should wear with their prom dress, and whether Tina wants to date Tony or Joe.

Socialisation is best done outside of school. My son is 20 months old, and he already has close friends. As soon as he’s old enough, he’ll be allowed to choose which sport he’d like to join, and/or which instrument he’d like to learn. I’d like to homeschool him as long as I can, and when his knowledge in different subjects surpasses what I can teach him, I hope to supplement him with community college classes, and/or private school courses. Since we already attend the local MOSI’s Toddler Scientist classes, I think we’re heading in the right direction.

JLeslie's avatar

@Storms As I said I am pro-homeschooling (I assume that is what you do for your children) so I am not trying to change your mind, but my experience was different than yours. I did learn that the states had power, that the balance has changed over time, and different philosophies on how powerful government should be.

Can I ask where you grew up? You say you recall teachers trying to influence political and religous thinking? In which direction? Were they liberal, conservative, religious, atheists?? Which thought process were they trying to pursuade you towards? I cannot think of one instance where a teacher did this in my schools. However, I would beleive it goes on here where I live now.

Snarp's avatar

Socialization has always been part of the purpose of schools. You’re not supposed to “socialize” in class, but that doesn’t mean you’re not being socialized. Public school socialization involves exposure to people who aren’t like you and however much people try (and an awful lot don’t even want to) that doesn’t happen much with home schooled kids.

I went to public school and was always pretty anti social, shy, bad at making friends, and a total dork. I never met a home schooled kid who wasn’t even more so than I. And I don’t think that’s a good thing in any way. I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule, probably more today than when I was young, but I think that homeschooling creates kids who are way too sheltered. I don’t want to start a fight about homeschooling, but I think this is what happens all too often, especially when the parents are expressly home schooling their kids to avoid exposing them to conflicting ideas or people with different backgrounds.

Seek's avatar

@Snarp

Understood and appreciated. I know many homeschoolers that are effectively the tools of their parents (and their churches).

I believe that with enough encouragement to get out and do stuff, as opposed to sitting on the couch getting class credit for watching NatGeo channel, some (if not most) of the social aspect of public school can be mitigated.

I was one of the asocial dorks myself, so I know all too well that the “caste” system of high school is a major road-block in the social development of too many kids.

janbb's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I understand where you are coming from and I know it can be done, but I was glad to see my kids exposed to other adults. And there is a lot of time in school, lunch, recess, walking the halls to make friends. And as snarp says, socialization is not just about making friends; it’s also about learning the world doesn’t revolve around you. “It takes a village….” Again, I am not trying to attack anyone who is homeschooling, just airing some of my thoughts. So much of it depends on our own experiences, that of our kids and the nature of the local school district.

phillis's avatar

I am not enamored with it. There are a lot of things wrong, but they all fall into the general category of those without a moral compass leading impressionable minds, even while professional ethics aren’t a big problem.

This is why kids gang bang other kids, why bullying still happens, why aggressive “winners take all and losers are worthy of scorn” mentalities dominate school sports, why rapes occur, blah, blah, blah. I’m not stupid; I don’t expect a utopic environment. Life inside and outside school isn’t the Special Olympics where “Everybody’s a winner!”. You have to earn what you get.

What I expect is that a little damn common sense is applied in the form of empathy. You must give up your kids 10 hours a day in this country. To whom you give them makes a huge difference. What comes around sure as hell goes around. Every child is indeed a winner; helping them get in touch with their humanity while guiding them toward finding their strong suit pays off in spades the day they start running this country and changing our diapers.

noyesa's avatar

@Storms As a brainwashed product of public school, I can assure you that your impressions of public school are utter bullshit.

As many have said, the quality of public education varies between districts. Schools with talented teachers perform well, the rest don’t. The problems with public schools are both social and systemic. Public school districts are much more susceptible and responsive to the misfortunates of its district’s economy, and as a result the worst schools out there are usually public, but there’s no causality here—public does not mean bad.

You’re misinformed if you think a normal day at a public high school involves gun fire and gang rivalry.

Seek's avatar

Am I the only one that’s against public schooling for the lack of educational value?

janbb's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Again, depends on the district. I wouldn’t say my kids got the most imaginative schooling possible, but they got a pretty good grounding in the basics which we supplemented experientially and through discussion and reading (and burp contests!)

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis You think kids gang bang and bully because of the schools? Do you lay no blame on the parents?

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I just know that I can’t teach my kids chemistry better than my high school chemistry teacher taught me. Same goes for math. I can’t teach them a foreign language, I can’t teach them physics, I can’t teach them biology. I certainly can’t supply them with science labs with any kind of decent equipment. I can’t even teach them to read, I’ve no idea how. I went to public schools in Florida, and I learned more than I can teach my kids, even if I could afford to not work. I do think I can supplement what they are learning in school very well, but I can’t replace it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I tink @Storms commented on the schools not teaching critical thinking n her experience. I said that I like that public schools many time can offer a larger variety of courses, but I also think, especially in primary school, many public schools can not well handle children who excel greatly in a particular subject. A 3rd grader who is a math genious will most likely not be able to be catered to. The public schools seem to do better at helping children who are behind, if we are talking about falling outside the “normal” range,

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie I thought including this part would clarify my thoughts. Let me try again :)
“You must give up your kids 10 hours a day in this country. To whom you give them makes a huge difference.”

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You remind me a lot of my sister (on other threads too – you’re not my sister, are you?). She’s very smart and convinced that the Florida school system failed her by not providing an education that challenged her. She is thinking of home schooling because she thinks she can do better than that for her son. I went through the same school system, and had similar problems with it, but in the end I believe that I failed to take advantage of what was available more than the system failed me. But there is no doubt that the schools I went to did a terrible job of identifying gifted students and providing them with a challenging education. Unlike my you and my sister though, I don’t think I can do better as a whole, but am better off trying to supplement.

You (and my sister) could be right though, and it sounds like you will try very hard to do a good job. My sister on the other hand, I think really just wants to protect her son from being the social outcast she was and to some extent wants to indoctrinate him her way rather than the school’s way. I think that she will accomplish the exact opposite of what she wants to by isolating him to protect him from social problems. Maybe I’m wrong about that too though.

Seek's avatar

@Snarp

Ha ha, I’d like to meet your sister!

Here is the most telling single piece of information regarding my public school experience:

Junior year Advanced English class – Teacher gets up to the front of the room (in her Friday dress – blinding orange, with giant sunflowers. Matching earrings and orange lipstick) and passes out a poem. I’ll spare you the entirety, but it was a poem about rhyming words: “A family of goose / Should be called ‘geese’ / But the plural of moose / Shall never be ‘meese’ ”

That was the second week of school. My brain was turned off of her for the rest of the year. That woman was so goddamned proud of that poem… I’m sorry, but when there are 16–17 year old kids in advanced classes being taught with methods that would bore and embarrass a third-grader, there’s a problem. Yes, I can do better than that.

MissAusten's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The educational value of a school depends a lot, as others have said, on individual school systems. I think ours has a high quality of educational value, which is quite different from the school system only an hour away where we used to live. On top of that, we read a lot at home and spend a lot of time doing things that are fun but also instructive. Hiking, making up our own science experiments, visiting museums, raising tadpoles and butterflies or moths, going to the library, or using the internet to learn more about things we’ve seen. The combination of a good education at school and a home life that fosters and supports inquisitive learning is working well for us so far. They also benefit from having a large extended family who don’t talk down to them or dismiss them because they are children.

Education is something that a school can’t do alone. It needs the support of parents and community. If parents aren’t preparing kids for school and making education a priority, the teachers will struggle and the school will not do well. So, where you live the schools may be failing or not living up to your standards. Where we live, the schools are doing very well and our children are thriving. Teachers are held accountable partly because the parents here have such high standards and expect excellent schools. I think there’d be an emergency town hall meeting if a high school teacher used the poem you mentioned for anything other than a laugh. :)

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr My junior English teacher was nothing to write home about, but not nearly that bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis It’s just that I think most schools have teachers who want to teach, and rules to follow. The kids being out of hand I tend to blame more on their situation at home. Maybe you mean you don’t want your kids around other kids who are acting up?

Coloma's avatar

Yes, well…the old ’ road to hell’ mantra. lol

I too was super idealisitc about how I was going to raise my daughter, and, for the most part I followed through on the more important ideals, like limited TV, censoring content, a big emphasis on curiosity, artisitc expression, music, kindness, love of nature, animals, values/morals…BUT….I certainly can’t claim that I never allowed my daughter to not watch a little extra TV or eat cookies and cupcakes or have a soda or any number of ideals that WILL fall short of the ‘perfect’ parenting fantasies.

Quite frankly, while I did entertain the idea of home schooling I did not feel up for the responsability and in all honesty, I looked forward to a few hours of aloneness during school hours.

One caution, while remaining true to ones own ideals, do not forget that there is a fine line between idealism and freakdom!

If not careful one can turn their child into a social misfit.

No kid is going to want to attend a party that serves hummus pizza and tofu ice cream and won’t allow Disney movies because they are too violent. lolol

All within reason or your ideals may backfire on you and your child will remember their childhood and family life as being a source of alienation instead of integration.

Seek's avatar

Mmm… hummus pizza… I’ll have to try that. With some good feta.

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie Work ethic and a love of teaching does not create a moral compass, which was the crux of my comment. The two can certainly run parallel to a moral compass, though.

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Also, you have much more claim to have been failed by the school than my sister does. Her advanced English teacher was a former nun, who while strict, was also academically demanding and would never have read something like that.

JLeslie's avatar

@phillis I think most teachers are moral. Do you mean relgious? I have a feeling even if we continue we will end with agreeing to disagree.

janbb's avatar

(Just have to say this has been one of the best threads in a long time. Lots of differing and passionate opinions but no one’s descended to namecalling or idiocy!)

phillis's avatar

@JLeslie No. You don’t have to be religious to have a moral compass. That would essentially demonize every Atheist who lives and breathes. Some of my best friends are Atheists. I wouldn’t be with them if they didn’t have incredible redeeming qualities and a moral compass.

Seek's avatar

@janbb

You doofus.

janbb's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Your mother dresses you in combat boots.

Snarp's avatar

@janbb I was a little scared when I offered my opinions on homeschooling. You boob!

Seek's avatar

@janbb

Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries!

janbb's avatar

@Snarp You hapless ninny!

@Seek_Kolinahr Your mother was an aardvark your dad was a roadrunner.

Seek's avatar

Ye reeky iron-witted fustilarian!

janbb's avatar

Oh well – it was a good thread while it lasted. :-)

Seek's avatar

No one to blame but yourself. ^_^ And me.

snowberry's avatar

Wow. A lot of conversation went on while I was at work…I won’t have time to read ALL posts, but here goes. @Seek Kolinahr, here’s to you!

I know not all public schools are the same. There was a very good public school in the last town where we lived. I said I have had children in public, private, and home school. I’ve been involved in education for many years, either as a homeschool parent, or helping my own kids with homework, or working in a private school. My husband I are presently very much involved in schooling. He’s an administrator of a large private school. What we are seeing is that in spite of the economy, parents are still trying to get their kids in private schools BECAUSE for whatever reason, they are not at all pleased with the public school education that’s available to them. That should speak for itself. (more about that later)

Here’s a short list. I don’t care at all for No Child Left Behind. It ties the hands of excellent teachers who would otherwise be able to teach kids to enjoy learning. Instead they have to teach to the test, and a lot of creativity and fun is lost. And I continue to read of failing schools that find a way to get around the regulations by cheating in one way or another.

There are many laws that make it difficult to learn in a public school. I’m all for rights and all that, but when the very law that’s supposed to protect children hamstrings the officials who would otherwise be able to help a child, this is a problem that degrades the learning environment in a massive way for everyone. From what I understand, a mainstreamed special Ed kid must be allowed the same social privileges as any other child in the school. This means he can associate with anyone in the school, regardless of whether they take advantage of him or not. So you end up with situations like what happened in our school. (see my post about Tourettes)

Then you have the kids who are not properly disciplined at home, or have an out of control home life with no parental oversight. This is not the kids’ problem. But when the administrators try to follow through with rational school discipline policy, the parents put up a fight. Sometimes they even sue the school district and win! This takes up so much of the administrators’ time, it’s really difficult to properly manage the school. This is a nationwide epidemic problem. This means many schools are dominated by violent kids who know the administrators cannot hold them accountable. It is no surprise this degrades the learning environment.

In many districts they have a policy of tenure that keeps bad teachers in. I know they’re still trying to sort this out, but it’s a slow process. I’m not interested in my kids having to pay the price because of these and other problems.

So why DO people want to get their kids out of the public schools? The reasons vary. Some don’t like the curriculum. For others the violence or the discipline is a deal breaker. Others take their kids out because of bullying, or because of poor quality teaching, or a high student to teacher ratio. And for some, it’s not how bad the school system is, it’s just that it does not meet their kid’s needs, or they want a better education than they are getting in public school.

It seems there are as many reasons as you have parents.

MissAusten's avatar

@snowberry I’m right with you on No Child Left Behind. I always look through the classroom work my kids bring home, and it’s obvious which papers are for test prep and which aren’t. The test prep papers are far outnumbered by other types of school work, which is exactly how it should be. At third-grade orientation, which is the year the mastery tests start, the teacher said they use those worksheets not to teach, but to review what the children have mastered mainly so they are familiar with the format when the test rolls around. They actually approach each subject in a variety of ways so children with different learning styles can all learn it well. That drove my daughter crazy, since she was one of the kids who “got it” the first time around and hated the repetition. I was worried at first that the schools would teach to the test, but from everything I’ve seen here, they seem to have balanced it out very well.

Rangie's avatar

When I was young, I went to Catholic school. They were very strict, no excuse for not doing your work. They had rules and we learned that rules were to be followed. When I was in the 3rd grade, it was basically the same as 4th grade in the public school system. When I was in the 5th grade I transferred to a public school due to location. I learned that rules were for breaking more than anything else. However, I must say, the public school system prepared me more for the real world than Catholic school did. So, I figure, I got a great start in school and study habits, and then transferred to an education in real life. Non of which hurt me a bit. I would not have liked homeschooling. Several important things missing, socializing and all of the learning that comes with competition, whether it be sports or academics.

jeanmay's avatar

This thread is extremely interesting, wish I had been awake to join in the party.

My state school experience sounds similar to that of @Snarp.‘s I thought I was constantly being overlooked and not challenged in any way. I thought the teachers were a waste of space, and turned my nose up at my fellow students. Just recently I went to the retirement party of one of my former high school teachers. There were a number of my old teachers there, some of whom I spoke to at length. I realised that I had some fantastic teachers in that school, and that many of them had a lasting and positive influence on my development and education. There were teachers who I have since complained about, but when I think about it now I realise the cruddy teachers only fuelled my desire to shine so I wouldn’t end up like them. One of the important things my parents taught me was that we all have a responsibility for our own education, and only then can it be a success, regardless of the school. I could have made more of my education, but I was too stuck-up and lazy on the whole. For all the negative impression that was left on me, looking back I seem to have chosen to ignore all the great things I got out of it.

As for indoctrination @Storms, we (being in England) had religious assembly every day, where we were made to say the Lord’s prayer and sing hymns. The only influence it had on us was to thoroughly bore us. Religious Education was also mandatory; again, see above. In history I had a marvellous teacher, and the whole curriculum was based around learning how to analyse sources. The educational content of the school curriculum in general was by no means black and white. I don’t think we should ever underestimate children in their ability to think for themselves and make judgements based on evidence from a variety of sources.

@Seek_Kolinahr In regards to home-schooling and socialisation, I will say that since my two year old son has started daycare, his behaviour at home has improved tenfold. Where as before he could only tolerate sitting at the table for a matter of minutes at mealtimes, now he agrees to sit there quietly until he has finished eating. He eats a much wider variety of fruit and vegetables now, and at nap time he takes himself off to bed with no complaints. He is getting better at sharing, and tantrums are diminishing. It is not only the affect of the teachers, who he adores, but the other children whose stellar behaviour he aspires to. That is socialisation: positive peer-pressure.

jeanmay's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr @janbb Come back here and I’ll bite your kneecaps off!

jerv's avatar

If you want to keep your kids safe from that sort of thing then get an abortion. Seriously!
This is The Really Real World.
People believe different things from what you might.
People use bad words.
People occasionally whip out a weapon and fire randomly just for the sheer unadulterated hell of it.
Shit happens.
Nobody is safe, and nobody ever will be. The only way to be safe is to not be born in the first place.

Most of the arguments I hear in support of home-schooling are misguided attempts at protection by isolation. That won’t work, and it screws kids up, turning them into fucked-up adults.

snowberry's avatar

It’s unfortunate that many people think that it’s OK to toss your kids into a potentially deadly environment because after all, “it’s the real world, get used to it”. That’s awfully callous. Some kids will thrive, but many others will come out with scars that stay with them forever. We’re not doing the kids or ourselves a favor by that attitude. If your kid is not doing well in public school for what ever reason, it’s in your kid’s and your best interest to change what’s wrong if you can. If you think it’s a deal breaker, move them to a better situation if you can.

Neither homeschool, private school, or public school solves anything. Whatever you bring into the situation will stay with you. If your kid is hyperactive in public school, he’ll be the same in private, or at home as well. The problems may alter a bit, but they’ll still be the same problems. How you choose to deal with them is up to you. It’s all about taking responsibility for your life.

People who want to homeschool successfully have a better chance if they do so for positive reasons, rather than negative ones. Your attitude dictates how it goes, because attitude directs thoughts, thoughts direct behavior.

@jery, It’s unfortunate that the people you know who’ve been homeschooled are screwed up adults. I know many many homeschool graduates who are very UN screwed up, hardworking, amazing people, Done right, homeschool is a wonderful thing.

Seek's avatar

@snowberry – it worked for how many thousands of years before the advent of institutionalised schooling?

jerv's avatar

@snowberry I’m not saying that home-schooling can never work, but I am saying that many of the people I hear about doing the home-schooling thing are doing it for the wrong reasons, and often going about it wrong as well. Isolate a kid from their peers, keep them in the dark, feed them bullshit, and some will thrive but many others will come out with scars.
Even better is that when your little one sees some of the stuff you’ve been trying to hide them from for the first time, they are totally unequipped to deal with it in any rational manner.

Done right, homeschool is a wonderful thing Done right, you can throw yourself out of a fifth-story window and land unharmed too. Screw either one of those things up and life gets…. interesting.

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The response to that is that for thousands of years the vast majority of people didn’t know how to read or write, let alone know or need to know anything about science.

deni's avatar

why do so many people have a problem with public schools? where i grew up, the public schools were just fine, perfectly normal. the private schools, on the other hand, is where parents paid for their kids to go because the football team was better. half the students were drug dealers, too, and that is honestly not an exaggeration. not just weed either. it was bad. i’m so glad my parents trusted public schools.

and who’s to say that a private school can’t have a student committ suicide or someone bring a gun to school? i dont understand at all this whole private school thing.

snowberry's avatar

You’re entitled to your opinion. That’s not the reality I’ve seen or know. I’m entitled to mine. In my opinion, it sounds like you’re spouting criticism that you’ve heard other people say, and plugging in a lot of your own bias. It’s obvious you’ve never known a properly raised homeschool kid, let alone a whole group of them. You don’t have a clue about the philosophy behind it, or anything else attached to reality. But that’s my opinion. I invite you to change it.

If you would pull up RELIABLE statistics of your own to shore up your argument, I’d be very interested.

snowberry's avatar

Sorry, the above comment was directed @jery

jerv's avatar

@snowberry Actually, I do know a few. The catch is that they were home-schooled for reasons other than those cited by most people who want to home-school. Of course, they went on to a private school when they were a bit older since teaching is best done by those that have a better academic understanding of the subject matter than the student.

My problem isn’t so much home-schooling as the reasons that many people choose to do so. Some do it for the “official” reasons, and some do it for reasons I find ludicrous. If you’re worried about your kids getting shot, get involved with drugs, have premarital sex, or learn the Theory of Evolution, keep them totally sequestered from the world; schools are not the only place that bad things happen. There are valid reasons to home-school but many of the people I’ve seen looking at that option are not doing so for any reason I feel is valid, and often for reasons that I feel would be detrimental to the kid in the long run.

There is also the matter that the kids will likely surpass their parents in academic achievement in their early-teens unless the parents are themselves quite highly educated, but that is coming from someone who spent most of their school days working two grades above their peers so take it with a grain of salt. To show you where I am coming from here, let me tell you a little about me. I almost skipped a couple of grades, but it was determined that since I was already the youngest in the class, moving me in with people 3–4 years older than me would be a disaster. The academic portion would’ve been easy, but the social education… I would not have been a well-rounded, well-adjusted person if I had skipped.

The reason I bring that up is that there is more to education than just the textbook stuff, and home-schooled kids generally lack that sort of education. Those people I know that were home-schooled? They were smarter than their peers in the bookish sense, but lacked wisdom and were generally clueless for a while once they hit the outside world.

Now, as for your request for RELIABLE statistics, you seem to be rather unwise there. See, this here is the Internet. You can find anything you want, whether its true or not. Hell, it was true before there even was an internet! It jsut happens to be quicker and easier to choose your lies of choice in the 21st-century. Therefore, I have a bit of skepticism for that sort of stuff; a skepticism that my home-schooled acquaintances never really developed until after going through a hell of a culture shock.

However, I do trust personal observation. I don’t have or need 872,145 different versions of my life with notarized statements filed in triplicate; I lived it, and I know what I have seen and experienced. If my experiences run counter to yours then c’est la vie, but I don’t feel I have to prove anything in a question that asked for an opinion.

snowberry's avatar

@jery OK, so you have this huge idea all based on a few isolated people you know. I get it.

snowberry's avatar

@jery And while I’m thinking about it, you say you “know a few”. Together my husband and I have known and/or worked with hundreds of homeschool families. I have participated in workshops for homeschool conventions, written curriculum, and started homeschool clubs in two different states. There are always going to be a few bad apples in every bunch, but please don’t try to convince me all homeschoolers are like the few you know.

jerv's avatar

@snowberry A few people I know personally and more that I know of. Admittedly, fewer than you, but enough to draw conclusions. I know too much about statistics to base a strong assertion on too few data points, so chalk it up to me not living in the idyllic utopia that you seem to or to one hell of a coincidence. A quick guess of the odds and I would wager that it’s differing experiences.

I also know enough to walk away. (Whether I actually do or not is a different matter entirely.) This time I am not going to get in a heated argument with someone who is otherwise decent just because of one instance where we are diametrically opposed. I stated my opinion and and the basis of that opinion. you have proven that you are also biased, and I don’t think we can accomplish anything more in this thread.

Have a nice weekend :)

Seek's avatar

Okay, let’s just put it this way:

Don’t homeschool your kids if the driving factor in your decision is to keep them from being secular/worldly/too liberal/too conservative/sexually active.

DO homeschool your children if the driving factor is avoiding your children having to stare at “The Friday Dress”, and being forced to work at the pace of the stupidest, most disinterested kid in the class.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Storms my boys are all in the process of being brainwashed. It is starting to freak me out a little. All they want to do is watch Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Just the other day the middle boy asked me to buy a teapot because he wants to join the Tea Party.~ Sorry to be sarcastic, but I am just not buying the brainwashing argument.

@Seek_Kolinahr I am a huge supporter of public education, but if I was in a horrible system, I would definitely consider home-schooling. Fortunately I am in a great school system. I do have several close friends who home school their children. They belong to a group of home schoolers with different parents teaching different subjects. Their children are not lacking the social interaction they might get at a public school, but they are being exposed to a very homogenius population and are not being exposed to kids who don’t look exactly like them. That part bothers me.

As for private schools: I have family that has chosen that route for their kids. One of my nephews has a serious speech impediment. Where does he get services? From the SLP at his local public school. These are people who bad mouth the schools but are right there when their kid needs services. I have another nephew who went all the way through a private elementary school, getting to sixth grade, before it became clear he was reading on a first grade level. His parents pulled him out of the private school, got him an IEP and got the interventions that boy required – from their local public school. The piece that is missing in private schools is the accountability piece. At least I know that my kid is meeting some education standards.

In the interest of full disclosure I should probably add that my father was a public school teacher his entire career, my uncle is a public school teacher, my sister teaches at an inner-city public middle school, two of my brothers teach at public universities, and I will be student teaching next year in a local public high school.

snowberry's avatar

Good comments folks. Sorry @jery wasn’t around to hear this.

liminal's avatar

Any system of education (whether in the home or in an institution) can be of benefit or of disservice to a child. Homeschoolers are capable of perpetuating brain washing behavior: http://www.fluther.com/disc/76487/should-parents-be-allowed-to-teach-their-children-whatever-they-want/

For me, it comes down to the needs of each individual family. While one setting may work for one, that same setting won’t work for another, or every member of the family for that matter.

@jerv, I hope you are still following the thread. How have the homeschooled people you know of acclimated after experiencing culture shock?

snowberry's avatar

Actually, I was hoping that @jery would say something other than emotionally charged negative statements to inspire me to change my mind. It’s sad to paint all people of a group with the same brush.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree that it depends why someone is home-schooling their kids whether I am all behind it or not. If it is because the child is academically better suited to learn at home, sounds good to me, if the child is miserable socially at school I can see it too. If the parents are sheltering their child from the horrible scary world to paranoia, I don’t like it. Only in extreme cases can I see this, like inner city where gangs really possibly are a very big problem, and I can also understand if your child is beginning to experiment with drugs or hanging around bad people, no matter how good the neighborhood is, and you want to pull them out of that environment for a while.

I have a girlfriend who started her children in homeschool, and at any time she would allow them to go to public school, but for now they all want to stay at home. She is a CPA and her husband an engineer. The children are not “sheltered” it is simply an education choice that has worked for them. I think that is fine.

I had a teenager stay with me for 5 weeks one summer, who had been homeschooled until she was 15 and then her family moved to the west coast of FL for her brother who was training to go pro in tennis. It happened there was a magnet Performing Arts high school, and her passion was ballet, so she enrolled. She did not have any trouble with the transition. Her parents simply were looking for whatever suited their children academically to encourage their passion and happiness. I loved how they thought outside of the box for their children, encouraging their creativity and their academic acheivement.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie That’s pretty much what I did. The boys were allowed to make up their own mind about whether they wanted to go to public school or not. They tried out the public school, but were very unhappy about the grading system, and the fact that they had to ask permission to go to the bathroom. There were many other factors. I wanted them to love learning, not hate it.

When I was at Disneyland, I overheard a parent telling her children the historical significance of the Abraham Lincoln animatronic, and the child argued “Mom, we’re on vacation now, we don’t have to learn!” I believe every day is a learning day.

Seek's avatar

I believe every day is a learning day.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Seek's avatar

@SuperMouse

I’m so glad you’re around such a good system. Like I said, as long as I live in Florida, my kid won’t darken the door of a public school.

It was 13 years of hell every single night working on math homework, and it wasn’t until after I graduated and got tested that I found out I have dyscalculia. My sister will graduate this year. She reads at about a third grade level (at best), is obviously dyslexic and always has been, but because of a combination of our parents being the shite they are, and the school not caring as long as she scrapes a passing grade in the FCATs, she’s never had the slightest amount of help.

Gods, I could go on forever with Florida school horror stories. Anyone dare me? I have a million of them.

snowberry's avatar

@Seek Kolinahr Hey, I’m all ears. Start already.

Snarp's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr BTW, You’re blaming the whole state of Florida, and while I imagine things are different now, County districts vary considerably across the state, and my schools weren’t that bad. How many different districts do you have experience with?

Seek's avatar

Pasco and Hillsborough, and friends from Hernando.

I blame the “state” because my main concerns revolve around the FCAT and the state being linked to those test scores. I can’t help but wonder if our teachers weren’t so driven to “teach the test” that they would have cared a little more about the actual progress of their students, or would have done more to prevent kids that didn’t perform well from dropping out. Freshman year, my class had over 400 kids. 143 of us walked on Graduation day. IMO – that is completely unacceptable.

Seek's avatar

*state budget, that is, being linked to test scores.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Although I completely believe your school sucked, and that much of FL sucks, and I am not on board totally with the testing, although I do think we need some testing; some schools in FL seem to be ok. As dpworkin would say, look for the Jews. West Boca and Spanish River High School in Boca have graduation rates of something like 75–80% I think.

YARNLADY's avatar

My sons were self schooling from the very beginning, as all children do. They experiment from the very beginning of understanding. My first was already reading, writing, using addition and subtraction and beginning to understand multiplication. He was starting to use colors and understood that mixing two or more colors resulted in a new color. He knew many shapes and learned new ones easily (a cone and a cylinder, for example). He knew the difference between 2 D and 3 D.

I asked the first grade teacher what program she could recommend for him since he already knows how to read and write, and she said to him “pretend you don’t!” I didn’t leave him there that day or any other day.

MissAusten's avatar

@YARNLADY Was she the same teacher Scout had in “To Kill A Mockingbird?” ;) I sometimes had issues with my daughter’s teachers, but usually once they had a chance to get to know her in the classroom they were happy to adjust the reading material for her. She’s 11 now and we’re still trying to get her to use legible handwriting. Maybe she’ll be a doctor someday. Last year when my son started kindergarten, it was really interesting for me to see his reading homework and watch him progress from barely reading to the point his now, toward the end of first grade. My daughter picked it up so young and so fast, we didn’t even realize she could read. This time we get to be a part of the process and share in his sense of accomplishment.

Storms's avatar

Well, if Fluther says so.

jeffmbca's avatar

We originally thought we would homeschool our kids but decided to start them in public school knowing that we could pull out at anytime. Fast forward to today and our oldest is just finishing her Junior year in public school. Where did the time go? There have been good times and bad, good teachers and bad, all in all, like life in general. Schools are the same as when I was a child for the most part except things move more quickly and technology is everywhere. Socially, school is a better place than home. Not that it’s easier, sometimes it’s more difficult. But they get much more exposure and experience in dealing with their peers which they will need throughout life.

My two kids both have learning disabilities but they’re mainstreamed in the regular classroom. It’s been difficult but some of the resources available through the school have helped. The important point is to be involved. The schools only go so far. We have used learning centers out side of school for help and the internet is a huge boost. There’s no such thing as an Easy IEP for children with learning disabilities but you can find a website about it. http://www.easyiephelp.com. And there are plenty of resources like http://dictionary.reference.com, that make learning and studying much easier than when we were kids.

Watching my kids in school, I sometimes wish I was back there too. Sometimes. :)

jeffmbca's avatar

Sorry, I didn’t include this in the previous post but there’s a website for parents to do research about schools and get report cards on them if you’re looking for a new school or to check up on your current school: http://www.greatschools.org

SuperMouse's avatar

@jeffmbca lurve for a great answer and welcome to Fluther!

MaryW's avatar

I am not happy with the public schools ( drugs, drop outs, lack of scholastic care and choice ) in the area so the grandkids are in a small private school. I think it depends where you live.

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