I am actually a very strong believer in public school. I believe we owe it to kids who are disadvantaged—in a whatever way that is—to help them get a good education and have a decent entry point into adulthood.
I am also a strong believer that every kid can learn and every kid is smart and creative if you teach them the right way. Whatever way that is.
So it’s crushing to me that I am taking my kids out of public school and basically giving up on making it good. Because I think it’s hopeless. There will have to be a sea change, and I am not the activist type. I’m too self-involved.
There. I said it.
I don’t want to spend my days making the world a better place. I want to spend my days making sure I don’t repeat my terrible childhood by making my kids’ lives terrible. That is no small feat. The odds are against me.
But I saw this video about Cyber Schools, from education professor Ali Carr-Chellman, and it made me really sad. The bottom line about Cyber Schools is that millions of dollars in public school funding is being diverted to Cyber Schools. Any kid can elect to leave the local school and do school online. The Cyber School has to be a non-profit, but the curriculum company they contract to can be for-profit. So the CEOs of these curriculum companies are making multi-million-dollar salaries by being the single-supplier to a given Cyber School.
School reformers are diverting millions of dollars in public school funding to pay for Cyber Schools. The teacher to student ratio is 50 to 1, and the New York Times did a months-long investigation to determine that the schools are bad for kids and terrible for public school budgets.
I hate that this is happening. I don’t think I will be able to do anything about it. No direct action from me in the near future. But it does make me wonder if I am too isolated in the public debate about how to make society good.
I got fed up with schools and took my kids out. And I’m teaching my kids that if you don’t like it, leave. And here we are, largely isolated, on a farm.
But what about contributing to something larger, and engaging in public debate and social reform? I think this is part of a good education. I’m just not sure how to do it because I hate being part of it myself. It feels hopeless.
Then I thought, well, maybe this blog is that. It’s a way to contribute in a larger way. So, I can’t really think of ways to help kids understand how to contribute to the public good. But maybe you guys have ideas.
Let’s hear them.