Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10, 2006: Let’s Call a Truce!

Let’s call a truce! Let’s put out the proverbial white flag. Let’s put an ad in all of our local newspapers:
Attention Public School Teachers!

I don’t know about you, but 90% of the negativity I’ve ever received regarding homeschooling comes from public school teachers. The cashier at Wal-mart wishes she would have homeschooled her kids; my kids’ pediatrician thinks that homeschooling is neat and intriguing (although his own kids are in public schools); my best friend, whose kids are in public schools, recognizes that we’ve made different educational choices but it doesn’t change our relationship.

So what’s up with public school teachers? Why are their feathers ruffled? Why do they feel the need to justify themselves?

I had a somewhat unpleasant experience a few months ago. I was asked to speak about homeschooling as an educational alternative to a class of undergraduates majoring in—you guessed it—education. Whew! You should have seen the fur on their backs! It was standing straight on end and I could’ve sworn I saw some sparks flying out. Claws were sharp and extended in territorial defense. “So are you saying that public school teachers aren’t good enough for your kids?”

Hey, teachers: It’s not about you.

A friend and new homeschooling mom told me recently about an email she’d received from a woman in her church. It was one of those chain mail, feel-good kinda emails. The title: “Who are the real heroes of today?” The article that followed was one you’ve probably all seen in some form or fashion, about how America’s true heroes are not the celebrities but the public school teachers. I’m sure many teachers are modern-day heroes; I’m not arguing with that. But what I found disturbing was why this woman, a public school teacher, felt the need to forward this email to my friend, a homeschooling mom, with this “qualifier” at the beginning:
“This was an inspiration to me. Education gets blamed for the downfall of the home. Blame needs to be put at the feet of the many of the parents [sic]we deal with everyday in public education.….”

What’s up with the blame game? Who’s blaming “education” for the “downfall of the home”? And why does this public school teacher feel the need to justify her position to this homeschooling mom?

I don’t know many parents who chose to home educate directly because of a public school teacher. Sure, I know a mom who was disgusted that her son’s 3rd grade teacher told the class that there were 52 states in the U.S.—but that was probably just a slip of the tongue. No one takes that isolated incident and concludes that all public school teachers are unqualified to teach. I wasn’t thrilled that our son’s 1st grade teacher chose to come back to teach when her baby was 4 months old—even though her husband preferred that she take a year’s maternity leave—because she didn’t want to lose her schoolroom. But we didn’t opt out of the public school system because of her.

Our support group is loaded with parents who are former public school teachers. We even have a few dads who are public school teachers. I’ll bet these moms were fantastic public school teachers. I went through the education program at college and certified to teach at the secondary level. We’re immersed in the concept of public schools. Teachers historically have a place of respect in our society.

Let me say right here that I think our country is filled with some amazing teachers, whether it be in the public, private, or homeschool arena. And our country is also full of some pretty lousy teachers in all three categories, as well. I’m sure there are some homeschool parents out there who think there are 52 states in the U.S. But my decision to home educate has, well, nothing to do with anyone else.

What if I had a friend who worked at a bank, and I decided to do my business with a different bank because that worked better for my family. Would she stop speaking to me? Or what if a church member owned a grocery store, but I decided to shop at a store that had more flexible hours. Would he stop me on the stairwell and ask, “Do you really think it’s best that you shop at that other store?”

I know, I know: our kids aren’t deposits in banks or vegetables (well, most of the time). But the choice is still what works best for my family. My intentions are not to offend. My decisions have absolutely nothing to do with the public school teachers I know. I’m waving that white flag. What else can we do?

1 comment:

  1. I know this is an old post but I found it and thought I'd share an observation. I got involved in homeschooling a few years ago and I was astonished by what a strong gut level reaction I got from all the mothers that I meet (most of whom have their kids in schools).

    In every case, it was a strong emotional reaction. Sometimes an explanation as to why its a terrible idea, or why it's not right for them, or why they hope to do it someday etc etc.

    I was stunned by what a strong emotional reaction that they all had: it was on every mom's mind as a possibility and one that they had each had a personal strong feeling about.


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