I just read an article someone placed on Facebook that stated more parents are homeschooling because they are fed up with “left-wing social engineering and violence in public schools.” Using a quote from the Washington Times the article said, “the top three reasons that parents choose homeschooling are a desire to provide religious instruction or different values than those offered in public schools; dissatisfaction with the academic curriculum, and worries about the school environment.” I worked as a teacher and administrator in private and public schools, and I can say with confidence that those were the same reasons parents said they chose home school over public school thirty plus years ago. The only two factors that have changed is the number of school shootings, and what I can only assume is the invention of a left-wing social engineering curriculum. I say invention since there was no such curriculum – academic or otherwise – taught in the 37 years I was in the profession, and I dare say, there is no such course taught to this day. There may be some who look at certain course offerings in that light, but that is more a personal ideology issue than a public school issue. There have always been parents who home-schooled their children and even some parents who home-schooled their children for a short period of time before eventually sending them back to the public school, and they do it today for the same reasons they did thirty years ago. Parents choosing to home-school does not signify public schools are being abandoned.
Homeschooling is a parental choice that works for some and not so well for others. To a certain extent, homeschooling does shelter children from outside influences and that is generally the ultimate goal of parents who choose to home school. The potential for violence in public schools does cause some parents to lean toward homeschooling, and who can blame them? However, violence not only occurs in schools, but on playgrounds, in low income neighborhoods, in affluent neighborhoods, and in society in general, but overall schools are still one of the safest places for children. The biggest violence concern today of which schools have little or no control over is the growing probability of gun violence on the school campus. There have been at least thirty school related shootings this year alone, so that is a very viable concern for any parent of school age children – public, private, or home-schooled.
As for left-wing social engineering, anyone making such a statement has spent little if any time in today’s schools, especially schools in the South – and most likely across the nation. Overall, teachers tend to be the most conservative family-oriented people in our society, and that has not changed regardless of fear tactics some people try to push. There are two major influences on what a child is taught in school – the local and state adopted curriculum and the community in which the school exists. It is highly doubtful teachings in schools, especially public schools, stray too far outside the parameters of the adopted curriculum or values upheld by the community in which the school exists.
Of course, parents should do what they feel best for their children, and if that is homeschooling, that is what they need do. As for me, I believe in public schools, especially since I have been blessed with three children who received a great education in public schools and I now have eight grandchildren getting an equal or better education in public schools. No, I am not concerned about left wing social engineering in the public schools my grandchildren attend. Their schools have professional teachers who follow the adopted curriculum and respect the values of the community in which they teach. Yes, I am concerned about violence, especially the threat of gun violence. Unfortunately, these days there are few places immune from such violence including schools, the mall, the streets, the church, and even the home. In some respect, we are all hostages/victims of this atrocity, and it is ludicrous to think we can wrap our children in a cocoon of safety indefinitely – even in the relative safety of our homes – until this issue passes or is addressed. Unfortunately, the gun violence issue will not pass until adults across this nation summon the courage to face it head on even if it means taking an unpopular stand to address the violence. Until that day arrives, who can blame parents if they decide to home-school to protect their child, but at the same time, blame should not be placed on public schools for this issue. If blame is to be cast, cast it on a society that allows the slaughter of its children to be looked upon as collateral damage.
Public schools are not without fault, but they are not the reason our society is struggling with its sanity, the loss of civility towards one another, or our self-righteous cherry-picking piousness regarding what is right and wrong. The mess we are in begins behind the doors of conservative and liberal homes where the morals and values of our society are instilled or neglected. A bigger fault than public schools may lie in the abrasive/abusive gum-flapping and finger pointing that threatens to destroy our country and lately seems to have replaced the values we claim to be so important. Name calling, finger pointing, labeling, and judging are testaments to the values we hold closest to our hearts, and most likely none of that will change in the foreseeable future. Neither public schools or homeschooling can shelter our children from such hypocrisy.
Therefore, point fingers at the public schools if you like, sneer at the conservatives if that makes you feel fuzzy and warm about yourself, rant against the liberals if that makes you feel superior, and home-school your children if you believe in scare tactics and left wing conspiracies. I have nothing against homeschooling, but don’t home-school out of fear and doubt cast by fear-mongers, haters, and conspiracy stalkers – home-school because you, as a parent, believe homeschooling is the best education value for your child. That is exactly why I sent my children to public school and my children send my grandchildren to public school.
Instead of inventing banners of disenfranchisement such as “left wing social engineering”, why don’t we practice a little common-sense social engineering for a change? Maybe, if common sense comes back in style, we might actually find a way to improve our schools and resolve the gun violence issue to create a better and safer nation for all children – home-school and public school alike.
©Jack Linton, November 15, 2019