Conversations about Education

My oldest daughter spent the night at a friend’s house last night. Great for me, although I didn’t know how great at the time. When I went to pick her up this evening, I spent two and a half hours talking to the friend’s mom about education issues.

I guess part of my problem is that I am so used to the people around me being apathetic and so used to the status quo, that I never really expected to find someone as sensitive to education issues as I am, much less someone that is the mother of one of my daughter’s friends. It was an amazing conversation, and with someone that isn’t an educator! We talked about the increasing entitlement mentality of our kids (she recommended a book that I hadn’t heard of on the subject) and the waste and fraud in our school systems. And of course, since our daughters go to the same school, we talked about issues that run rampant in their school. The talk was so uplifting for me that it has given me hope that there are parents out there that aren’t totally apathetic. And I know that there aren’t. But as someone who has spent most of her adult life as a single working parent, I haven’t had the time to be active enough in my daughter’s school to get to know other parents all that well. This episode has shown me that I may well want to start, though, and not just for the reason of meeting other like-minded parents. As a taxpayer and parent, it is my job to find out how my money is being spent, and for someone as interested and concerned about our public school system as I am, I am being horribly negligent in keeping up with what is going on in my own daughter’s school. As far as her classes go, I have a pretty good idea and she and I talk about it a lot, but as far as the whole school – I didn’t walk away from that conversation feeling like the most responsible parent in that department.

Another area that this conversation has me thinking really hard about is homeschooling. Not that anything the parent told me surprised me. I wasn’t surprised by any of it. But, being someone who has thought seriously about homeschooling in the past and still constantly thinks about it, this conversation has re-affirmed my conviction that public schools are not the places that are the best for our children, and the government is not the most trustworthy educator. They certainly aren’t the most trustworthy when it comes to handling Other People’s Money, which is why there is so much fraud and abuse in the public school system in the first place. If they run out of money they can complain and get more. Private schools are businesses, running on a profit-motive; if they don’t have the money to do what needs to be done, they shut down. They have to be responsible.

So why would I homeschool rather than putting my daughter in private school? As an educator and someone who is very interested in how kids learn, I would gain first-hand knowledge about how kids learn. I have already done extensive studying into the topic. Plus, what mother wouldn’t want to stay home and take care of their kids? Since the advent of the welfare state made it almost impossible for mothers to stay home with their kids and daycare is becoming an ever-growing industry, parents aren’t raising their kids any more. Educators are doing it more and more. It really is a shame, and sometimes the parents of the kids I teach point out that I spend more time with their kids than they do. They expect to get their money’s worth because of it, and I try very hard to deliver, but I hate the fact that it is me, rather than them, who is raising their children. To be the one raising my kids and teaching them the things they need to know to be independent, thinking adults would be one of the greatest gifts that I could give them. And perhaps, through the experience, I can extend that gift to other parents by educating their kids to be independent, thinking adults.