Layers of Learning is a homeschool site, written by homeschool moms. But we don’t hate government schools. We think public schools are filled with amazing teachers who really care. We also think all schools have smart kids who work hard and really learn.
Unfortunately we think those caring teachers and smart kids are achieving in spite of the system, not because of it. That’s one of the reasons we choose to homeschool; we’re not impressed with the system. Actually we’re pretty darn sure that if public schools were what they ought to be, what they were two generations ago, there would be no homeschool movement. It’s very presence is a symptom of a major ill.
Listen to the comments of this teacher who sent his resignation letter via You Tube after the school board refused to listen to it in person.
We know thousands and thousands of other teachers and parents are frustrated with the system too. So what are the problems?
- Teaching to the test.
- Kids working, working, working on worksheets, sitting at desks in their “groups”, but never loving to learn for the sake of the wonderful, amazing, fascinating world we live in.
- Kids getting left behind when they struggle, kids getting bored when they’re ahead.
- Kids getting passed on to the next grade no matter what their learning level.
- Teachers not allowed to deviate from the teaching curriculum or teaching methods proscribed by a district, who generally get their direction from Washington D.C. or massive teachers unions (the unions and the govt amount to the same thing in the end.)
- Discipline issues often take precedence over actual teaching because kids are made to sit working on those never ending worksheets, recess time has been cut, and teachers and schools have their hands tied when it comes to actually punishing bad behavior.
- Parents and teachers have no say in the curriculum that is taught to their kids and in their classes, respectively.
- Morality and consequences have been stripped from education in the name of tolerance and the very reason for educating a child has therefore been warped from instilling values and useful skills and knowledge to “job training”. We have lost our common culture, our common mores, and our common sense.
- History is not taught at all. History teaches us our place the in the world, warns us of past evil, and enlightens us to prior good.
- Phonics and logical math skills are taught rarely if at all, leaving kids without the tools to learn on their own.
So what can you do about it? In the short term you can homeschool your kids. But that’s not a feasible answer for really changing the culture of education in America. Over the long haul we need to return control to local school boards. Teachers and parents can have an influence on Joe and Mary who we elected to the school board last year, but not on Mr. Washington D.C. Talk to your state representatives and your local school. Ask them what steps can be taken to get more say locally.
Speaking of Mr. Washington D.C., we need to get him out of our pockets, and no I don’t mean what he’s taking, I mean what he’s giving. Washington bribes states, districts and individual schools with funding for meeting certain conditions, like passing tests with sufficiently high enough grades, having a fully functional special ed department, doing a “wellness” program and many other programs, that take up valuable time and resources but don’t add much to a student’s education. The bribes also cause teachers and administrators to act against the interests of the actual kids. Like putting kids who don’t need special ed into special ed classes to fill up the numbers and in the process solidifying in the child’s mind that they are stupid and can’t learn. Or encouraging parents who don’t actually need assistance to sign their kids up for free lunch, wasting resources that should go to the truly needy. Or teachers cheating on standardized tests so their kids appear smarter and the teacher or the school gets more funding. Or teachers just spending valuable learning time, teaching kids to fill out bubbles on a form and become good regurgitators. Write your state representative and make a stink about the practice of taking bribes in place of teaching kids.
Parents, pay attention. What does your kids text book really teach? How prevalent are drugs in the hall ways? What is the bus ride really like? Which teachers are truly horrible and why do they still have a job? How does the school handle discipline issues? Why is the school offering “interpretive dance” but not “American history”?
Parents, even now with the system we have currently, can make a huge difference in the culture of the school your kids go to. Whether it’s safety, discipline, the language used, the textbooks used, the courses offered, the clubs offered or another aspect, get involved, get up a petition, approach the principal, approach the teacher, approach the school board. Be respectful, you don’t know what they’re up against in terms of rules and regulations and you don’t know what they’ve been hearing from other parents. You catch more flies with honey . . .
Teachers, speak out. Be very plain, explain the situation to the parents. “I wish we could spend time learning science this year, but instead we’ll be spending almost all our time on these workbooks that will help the kids score well on their standardized tests.” “I wish I could give your struggling children extra tutoring help after school or during recess, but school rules prohibit this.” And so on.
We need to support vouchers or another free market system. When schools have to compete for dollars instead of being granted them, then we’ll see a phenomenal improvement, a skyrocketing improvement. American schools will be the best in the world, no exceptions. And this change will apply to the inner city and rural schools even more than the suburban ones.
One quick illustration. Recently my two homeschooled teen boys who were halfway through their Algebra 2 course, were sent back to start over on Algebra 1 because they were seriously struggling. They had forgotten, or probably never learned properly, the Algebra 1 material in the first place. Their study skills and their speed at working problems was abysmal. They were caught in a failing cycle. So instead of passing them on to make them “feel better” and stay with their peers, they got sent back to square one. But a school teacher does not have the power to do that. He can’t send his kids where they need to be. He can’t get them the help they need. He can’t help them to find self confidence through success, but instead has to settle for artificial “self-esteem”. My teen boys are much happier succeeding and getting A’s on a course they already finished, but apparently didn’t master, than they are failing every test in a course they’re not prepared for.
I’m so very tired of the constant begging for more money for the education system when funding clearly isn’t the problem. Spending on education has increased five fold since the 1960’s and our kids are worse off than they have ever been in the history of our nation. Illiteracy is on the rise and math skills are so bad that soldiers my husband worked with in the army actually thought that if they had a check in their pocketbook that automatically meant there was money in the account. Yet we hear clamoring that the problem is that teachers can’t buy enough computers for the classroom?
I’m tired of schools that have become violent, abusive, vile environments without discipline or respect for others because no one can ever be told “no” lest they’re offended.
I’m so tired of parents who don’t pay attention or care what is happening to their kids.
I’m so tired of politicians who pull out the “it’s for the kids” card when really it’s all about their own political power.
I’m so tired of the methodical stripping away of decency and morality from our education system in the name of tolerance; teaching homosexuality, atheism, anti-colonialism, environmentalism, socialism, promiscuous sex, racism, feminism, and anti-americanism all while pretending to be unbiased.
I’m so tired of teachers who get tenured and then stop caring, while good teachers are fired because they still can be.
I’m so tired of schools who cave to one whiny parent who wants the Christmas party changed to a holiday party or winter party. Or who cave to a small group who think a homosexual club in a high school is okay, as though any teen sex club is appropriately sponsored by public facilities and public money. Or cave to parents who don’t think their little sweetie should ever be punished no matter how out of line.
I’m so tired of a media who fawns over the teachers who educate our kids and then actively promotes the destruction of the families who nurture them.
I’m so tired of teacher education colleges run by socialists who teach our teachers to think like socialists and teach like socialists.
I’m just done with political correctness taking the place of truth, of tests taking the place of learning, of multi-culturalism taking the place of history, of self-esteem taking the place of achievement, and I’m done with people who pretend to care about children, but instead only use them.