Disclaimer: This is not a knock-down of the public schools, teachers, etc.
I'm a teacher.
Some of my best friends are teachers.
Some of my favorite students are becoming teachers (see Geetha's marvelous blog on this subject).
I have nothing but the highest respect for dedicated teachers who do their job well. And there are a lot of them out there.
But here's where I get po'd:
I've been involved with, and aware of, rules and regs for the home schooling community in various states and countries since the 2000/2001 school year. In many settings, the scrutiny of parents teaching their children is extraordinary. Lesson plans submitted for each week of the school year. Requirements for a syllabus that practically contains when the child will sneeze, etc. There are very few school districts that apply this level of scrutiny to their own teachers.
And here is the other thing: the majority of home schoolers are beating the pants off of public schooled students in ACTs, SATs, state-mandated tests, etc. Home schooled students tend to be more prepared for college, having needed to work independently throughout their high school years. They are socially more mature, having spent their years with a variety of age groups, taking on internships, etc., at earlier ages.
There are certainly exceptions. The media loves to latch on to the "crazy" home schooling parents who are abusive. The children who never see other children, etc. But from my experiences, these folks are in the same kind of minority as they would be in the public schools. Maybe they are even less frequent.
Because those who choose to home school usually do it because they want more for their children. They want their children more challenged, or given a stronger moral base, or to have the ability to go at their own learning pace or to develop a passionate interest. These parents give up one income, usually, and make enormous sacrifices in order to home school. And there are a heck of a lot of certified teachers home schooling their own children. And there are now plenty of co-ops and social organizations of home schoolers so that it's very rare that these kids go without seeing PLENTY of other kids.
So, when I, who have 25+ years of teaching experience, have spent the past three days with my rear end GLUED to my chair preparing paper work so that a teacher with 15 years' LESS experience than I have can approve courses I'm teaching for home schooled students in the fall, it gets OLD.
Now the program I'm prepping for is very home school friendly. Folks are trying hard. The teachers in the school district who have taken this program on are working their little behinds off. I respect them TREMENDOUSLY. I also know it's the old issue - accountability. That word, in and of itself, may be the killer of all innovation in education in this country.
In addition to the thousands of children who have been left behind by the "No Child Left Behind" act, what about all the creative, innovative teachers who have been left behind, as well? Can we really afford to lose the best of what they have to offer?
On much more cheerful notes...
That creative twosome, Jenn, of Something to Say About Life in the Netherlands and Allison, of Soccer Mom in Denial have joined forces to create an absolutely stunning photography blog Looking Into . By all means go check it out - the photos are thought-provoking and simply beeeeyooootiful!!! Congrats Jenn and Allison!!!
Don't forget to enter the fabulous The Long and The Short of It Grand Opening Contest