Because of many of my political positions, not to mention my theological ones, many people suppose that I would think public education was the be-all and end-all of education. And I do believe that making education available to everyone is an essential of civilized society.
The problem is that writing a health care bill titled America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 will not assure that all Americans have affordable health care choices, and creating a “public education” system does not necessarily mean that the public will be educated.
Both fall into the category of difficult goals; the methods used to accomplish those goals deserve to be carefully studied.
Today I found a report of a study on home schooled children on the Christian Post. This study does not appear to be done by a completely independent agency, and even in the course of the short news story, there are potential factors other than homeschooling that might influence the children’s academic performance, such as two parent families and the obvious advantage of parental involvement and so forth.
But my own experience makes me tend to believe the study has some validity. I was homeschooled, and no matter how many times I have compared by experience with public school students I have never discovered a case where someone had a more academically challenging experience in public school.
I have significant problems with much home school curriculum, such as material from ABeka, which uses the King James Version of the Bible to teach children, and a huge amount of material that uncritically teaches varieties of young age creationism. These are serious problems, in my view, but they don’t detract from the fact that home schooled children are learning more.
With so much failure in public schools we need to be taking a radical look at just how much success we are having. We’re not doing that well, and a democracy needs educated citizens. I would be the first to say that home schooling is not a solution to our educational problems, though I believe strongly that parents should be protected in the right to provide home schooling to their children. Home schoolers have a huge advantage in being able to select their students–absolutely!
At the same time, perhaps we need to learn something from this success and apply it. We are not looking for tweaks to a working system. We need revolutionary change in a failing system.
PS: I’m aware that I have vented without suggesting solutions myself. This is a blog, after all, and I get to vent!