My six-year-old made it through three days of school.

Before school started, when I could see that he wanted to go, I asked the school to test him, so the school would be very aware of how far ahead he is. For example, he tested at the end of second grade for math.

On his first day of school, the math he did was circling two balls, and writing the number two. Stuff like that. He brought it home. I said nothing. Although I noticed that after a page of this sort of math, he started making mistakes like writing there is one shoe instead of two shoes.

On the third day of school, I found him in his bed, crying. He said, “I was so excited to go to school and now I’m not excited anymore.”

He said the playground is too scary because there are third and fourth graders and the first graders can’t do anything. He said his best friend got beaten up and no teachers saw.

“What? Beaten up? Like how?”

“His skin got peeled off. Really. I’m not kidding.”

I don’t know about the skin. I’m sure he’s scared, though. The school playground reminds me of Lord of the Flies but without starvation to keep kids focused on the serious issue of hunger.

I called the school to say I am taking him out of school until he gets a differentiated math curriculum.

The school said they thought the math he was doing was okay for him.

So I told them to forget it. He’s not coming back.

I don’t think single parents can homeschool. I think it’s too scary. (There’s a good discussion about that in the comments on this post.)

According to Shane Krukowski, CEO of Project Foundry, homeschooling is increasing at the rate of 30% per year. And only 38% of homeschoolers today do it for religious reasons. The bulk of homeschoolers are moms who have a college degree and a husband and live in a school district they don’t think is acceptable for their kids.

So this means that

1.     The moms with a college degree and a husband are lying to themselves that the kid’s school is good enough and/or that they cannot homeschool. (Don’t tell me it’s about the money. It’s a bad excuse.)

2.     The school systems should cater to helping single parents and parents without college degrees, because other parents can handle schooling on their own and should stop relying on the public to support them. (A microcosm of this issue is teaching a kid to read.  My friend, Lisa Nielsen, education maven for New York City public schools, explained to me once that kids who have educated parents who read to them do not need to be taught to read — they’ll just learn. The reading programs are only necessary for kids who don’t have educated parents at home reading to them.)

Conclusion: Most moms lie to themselves about school, and then they send their kids there. Me, too, I guess, since I have a kid in public school. It’s hard to make a good decision when public schools are the best all-day babysitting program in the world, and homeschooling demands so much time and energy from the parent doing it.

My son came home with a list of words. The goal is for all first graders to read that list by the end of the year. He read the list out loud while he ate his after-school snack.

I was so upset that I offered him another bowl of ice cream so we didn’t have to talk.

I thought I would have fear that I wasn’t teaching my homeschooled son well enough. But all my worries are for the boy who’s in school.

It happened so fast.  I called a consultant to help me teach math, and she was very gung-ho on trying the school. The same day, I met with the school to tell them I’m homeschooling, and I felt scared to lose the only part of the community I have gotten to know during the year I’ve lived in rural America.

Then my six-year-old had a crying fit that he hates living on the farm. Maybe it is because he is sick of me fighting with my husband. My son said we could live in the city and see my husband once a week just like we see my ex husband – my son’s birth dad – once a week. My son painted a city picture of a parade of dads.

He also said he wants to be able to walk to friends’ houses again. Not that he ever did that. We never lived in a house long enough for him to make a friend. He’s moved five times in six years. So of course he thinks it’s time to move.

So I deal with the friends part of the problem and I put him in school. He asked to go. He said he wanted to be with other kids.

I know a hard-core homeschooler would say, “The parent decides.” But I didn’t have the guts. Or the heart. Or the brains. I don’t know what I was missing.

I meet with the elementary school principal. I bring her lunch so it feels more like friends having lunch and less like I am the most demanding and unsatisfied parent in the school.

I’m a half-hour late, which is an improvement from last time, when I missed our time slot completely. The principal is incredibly forgiving. She has a son with autism and understands, more than most people how I can be brilliant at some things and absolutely incapable of doing other, very basic aspects of life.

Sometimes she has an obvious agenda, like when she had to tell me she was sending me to the truancy officer. Sometimes I have the agenda, like this time, when I tell her I’m taking my kids out of school.

She says, “I know. I read your blog.”

I tell her I don’t exactly want to take both kids out. I want the first-grader to come to school three times a week because he loves being around the kids.

She says no. He’ll fall behind.

I point out he’s two grades ahead.

She argues that he’s not gifted, but I think it’s more about setting an example for the other parents.

Parents want to take their kids out for cattle shows in Colorado, and Disney World in November, after the corn harvest is done. The school would go to mayhem.

I show her my doctor’s note. I think it might work. Because no other parent in the district would think to do this. The note says my son is gifted and he needs to go to enrichment classes outside of school two days a week and his mental health depends on this stimulation. I thought it would be good to add the mental health part because it sounded more like a medical thing.

The principal reads the note. Twice. She looks at me and says, “Did the doctor laugh while she was writing this note?”

When I’m deciding if I should homeschool, I don’t need to decide if homeschooling is the answer to this country’s education problems. I only need to decide if, given the school district we live in, could I do as good a job educating my children as the school district could?

I have spent a lot of time with strong performing high schoolers from our district. I do not want my kids to have the education these kids had.  It’s not the education I had. There are different values. For example, the high schoolers don’t read for fun. They don’t go to enrichment programs over the summer. These are things I assumed every high school kid did before I moved here. I was ignorant, I know. But it doesn’t change what I want for my kids.

The problem is that my choice becomes a referendum on the school district. And then all my neighbors take it personally. I’m scared to publish this. I don’t want to be alienated from our community. But I’m not sure I have a choice.

During an interview with The Washington Post, Vivek Kundra, the federal government’s chief information officer, was explaining how outdated the government is when it comes to technology. He said that people are assigned PDAs based on a how long they have worked for the government and the square footage of their office. He said that most school kids are carrying better technology in their backpacks than government officials have on their desks.

I live in a school district where kids do not get assigned homework that requires a computer at home because so few kids have home computers. At first I was shocked but then I told myself that my idea of school is messed up because I only have personal experience with rich districts.

I’m sure that most government officials are the same, but they cannot talk about most districts and kids like they are rich. It would not be politically correct.

And then it scares me that I just normalized the problems and the consequent behavior of one of the poorest school districts in the country.  I start to doubt my judgment.

Check this out: I am in a Title I school district, but the parents I have spoken to have no idea what Title I means, let alone whether or not they are part of that.

Title I means that my district — the Darlington, WI district – is estimated to be performing in the lowest 20% of the country. Why is there no serious discussion of this in the community? Why aren’t parents scared? How can we send kids into the world to compete with the other 80% for jobs?

There is no way that people in my community are going to accept me because I am not going to be able to shut up about this. The best way to make a community better is to talk about what needs improving. What are people talking about improving in Darlington? I’m not really sure.

This is a guest post by Antonio Buehler. He works with homeschoolers to identify individual learning styles so parents can better tailor their homeschooling approach to their children’s capabilities and needs. He also helps students who want to gain admission to a highly competitive college or university. Buehler’s blog is http://buehlereducation.com/

Homeschooling is by far the best alternative for most black children. There are problems in public school for all children, but the institutional racism of traditional schools means that black children have the most to gain from homeschooling.

Today 15% of homeschoolers are minorities, but that percentage should escalate rapidly as parents begin to realize the benefits of homeschooling compared to the tremendous harm of public schooling. Here’s why:

1. Politicians sacrifice the black community over and over again.
The black community is worse off than most other racial groups in America in a variety of sobering ways – from HIV rates to incarceration rates to poverty rates. This situation is driven directly and indirectly by flawed or deliberately destructive government policies that disproportionately harm Black America. For example, the drug war, our foreign policy, minimum wage, public housing and gun control all have a deleterious effect on the liberty, prosperity and security of those in the black community. It’s hard to put a finger on which government policy is the most destructive to the black community, but if I had to choose just one it would be the public education system.

2. Public schools are still segregated.
Non-white students are disproportionately located in the worst schools in the country. There are 1,700 high schools (out of 27,000) that produce over 50% of the total dropouts in the nation. More than one third all black students attend these schools, which helps explain why the graduation rate for black students is only 51%. Kids who attend these 1,7000 schools are more likely to find themselves in economic poverty and/or prison than graduating from college.

3. Public schools expect less from black students.
A culture of low expectations surrounds black students on a daily basis. Whether or not they are made aware of the tremendous achievement gaps between blacks and whites, they tend to recognize that the idealized American vision of being able to achieve whatever they put their minds to does not apply to them. Instead they learn that the academic struggles they may face are merely a symptom of their stupidity and that ANY transgressions are punished harshly in a criminalized classroom. While they are reminded that society has been extremely unkind to the black community, at the same time they are reminded that they must know their place in society, and that demanding equal treatment is disruptive, uncouth and unacceptable.

4. Private schools are not a solution.
Private schooling is a much better option for black students, however, stereotypes and biases exist in private schools as well. Moreover, if a family is socioeconomically depressed they will go to private school through a scholarship or voucher program, and throwing a poor kid into a rich school often has its own problems.

5. Homeschooling solves a huge number of educational problems for black kids.
Homeschooling allows black children to develop in a manner which emphasizes their worth as individuals and not their lack of worth as members of an unfavored racial group. When they learn to read they can do so in a way that is relevant to them, and not in a way that is prescribed by bureaucrats and special interest lobbyists. When they learn math they don’t have to deal with a teacher who assumes the least of them. When they study history, black children can learn about all the inspirational men and women who aren’t prioritized in the Euro-centric curriculum of public schools. Instead of being told how stupid they are or how little is expected of them, they can be free to develop their unique talents to the best of their abilities.

And it is through developing those unique talents, in conjunction with the real education that homeschooling provides that black children will be able to overcome many of the hurdles that government has placed in their way.