This is part of The Blog Exchange. My Blog Exchange partner is Jerri Ann and she can be found here. Please visit The Blog Exchange for other participants/issues and visit Jerri Ann to see "the other side" of this topic.
I'm supposed to take the "con" side of public schools. This is hard for me in a variety of ways. I'm a teacher by profession. I love education. I love my students. I see very dedicated teachers working at my son's PUBLIC school every day. Many of my friends are teachers. I am excitedly watching one of my favorite former students becoming a teacher this year (for her wonderful insights and reflections, please visit Geetha here).
Despite my background and affection for public schools, I don't see them as a be all and end all. I don't see them, as they are supposed to be, as "Great Equalizers." In fact, when they are used as a tool to wedge us all into equal parcels in society, I think they fail miserably.
The more they push towards fitting us all into the same mold, the more they fail. You can not have schools that promote complete equality and promote excellence at the same time.
Because we are all different.
Yeah, basic but also true. Every time I hear that a new reading method will teach everyone to read, I laugh. The fact is that we have all kinds of learners and there is no "one fits all" method. And just as pedagogy does not fit all, learning environments don't, either.
There are children who are traumatized by crowds and noise. They will not necessarily be desensitized by being in a school building each day; they may simply give up on learning. There are children who don't read well and who never will. It will not be easy for them. But maybe they have a genius for carpentry. They will not be nurtured in our public schools. They may have "accommodations" and they may have a "learning plan," but they will still probably feel both different and a failure, because kids are smart, and if they really are a square peg in a round hole, they know it. There are children who become traumatized by bullies; contrary to popular opinion, social skills are NOT taught in schools, they are taught by PARENTS. And if the parent isn't in the game, the child will NOT learn appropriate social skills, and it is much more difficult to control bullying in schools than anyone from within a school system will admit.
And because public schools have to be everything to everyone, they are not as well equipped to handle many of these issues as many smaller, private schools, home school settings, etc.
If your child is thriving in public school, more power to you. But our ultimate responsibility as parents is to make sure that our children are emotionally, mentally and physically healthy, and if a school environment is causing damage in any of those areas, then it's time to come up with a new learning environment for that child. And it is one of our strengths, here in the U.S., that we do have a right to choose for our children.
Then, of course, you have to be able to afford those other choices.
But that would be the subject of yet another blog exchange.