Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why I Will Homeschool My Child

There has been a lot of debate lately, especially among evangelicals, about the best education options for our children. I am adding my voice to the debate as a teacher who has worked in the public schools for the past six years. Let me also state that these viewpoints come from my time at teaching at the HIGHEST performing high school in my county, a state School of Distinction. These are my reasons why, God willing, I will homeschool my child, no doubt!

1. Schools are not designed to serve all students.

If you have not been in a public school in the past 5 years, you have no idea what the schools are being asked/told to do. Under the current No Child Left Behind law, schools are rewarded for moving 4-5 kids in a class up an academic level. If your student is a high achiever, the schools are not rewarded for his or her progress. What does this mean? This means that discussions of merit pay, school rankings, etc are based on the performance of 25% of the kids. If your child is in the other 75%, they will NOT be the focus of the school. It also means all the money being poured into education is not going to ALL schools, it is going to the lowest performing. Your child attends a medium to high performing school? No money for his school or its programs- only the poorest, worst performing schools see real money.

2. Teachers are asked to do more and more that has less and less to do with actual teaching.

One of my pet peeves is to hear people complain that teachers are overpaid, or say that “Well at least you get summers off”. Here is a run down of the things I am asked to do on a daily to weekly basis:

· Keep a data notebook with grades, student samples, parent contacts and rationales of my teaching methods
· Participate in 1-2 weekly staff meetings lasting 1-2 hours each
· Contact parents for any absences, low grades, etc. When dealing with 75 kids, this means I easily have 5-10 contacts to make each week. A contact doesn’t count if I leave a message, get a bad #, etc. I have to track down the parent and speak with them. This can mean 5 contacts equals 15 phone calls around.
· Keep an updated webpage for each class I teach with lesson plans, resources, announcements, etc
· Get progress reports and report cards ready every three weeks- this means papers are graded right away and entered into a complicated computer system for all to see
· Participate in 5 scheduled observations, each with its own pre and post conference. That means 10 conferences with my principal. This does not include all the “unofficial” walk through reviews I get that I must look over. All of this is done to fill out my 10 page, yes 10 page, individual evaluation for the year. And I am only evaluated to the level of my weakest subpoint. I can be distinguished in 20 things, and proficient in 1 and I am, you guessed it, proficient.
·Incorporate the “Big 6” into my lesson plans- it is no longer enough to teach, I must use writing to learn, questioning, groupwork, literature circles, scaffolding, and class talk in my lessons. Your child doesn’t do well with groupwork? Too bad because I have to use it.
· Participate in staff development. Just this summer, my “time off” I spent 3 unpaid weeks at various conferences and trainings. 3 weeks away from my family, while students relaxed and never looked at a book.
· Meet with a central office instructional coach and a state instructional coach. Our state coach is only here 30 days a year- only one/sixth of the year. As part of those visits, we have more observations, more pre and post conferences, and more data to collect

And after all this, I get to actually plan my daily lessons!

3. Society as a whole doesn’t care about your child, they want their child handed every opportunity, even if that means your child is left in the dust.

Education used to be a three way partnership between parents, students, and teachers. No longer. In fact, I recently was told by a well paid “expert” that student success was 13% due to school administration and 87% due to teachers. Really???? Wow! Glad to know students and parents play no role in their own education. In fact, students today are well trained by the parents to argue over grades, ask for extra credit and hand-outs, and when all else fails, to complain about the teacher to administration. Your child worked hard to turn a project in on time? The students who turned it in 3 days late wants the same grade and momma will get you if you “deny” her child. There is no reward for doing what you should, rather there are rewards for doing nothing then complaining about it.

4. Curriculum is all over the map with no rhyme or reason.

In the six years I have been teaching, there have been two major changes to the high school curriculum. This means that just when teachers are learning what they are to teach, what they are to teach changes. There is no real reason, just more money being poured out to companies that develop the “rigorous” state tests. Rigorous in that you must make a 50-60% to pass. That is not a standard I hold for my child.

This is just a snippet of education today. And this is a snippet of why I will homeschool my child- one teacher/parent to another.