03 May 2010

Why this homeschooling family favours public schools

We're avid home schoolers. (Yeah, like that surprises anybody...)

Sometimes I am surprised, though, that people assume that being an avid homeschooler automatically means that we are "against" public schools.

That's not the case at all.

Actually, we almost always vote yes on education millages and more resources for the schools. Public schools aren't the best option for our family, but we consider them to be of critical importance to our culture on the whole. I wouldn't want to live in a place where education was reserved to the wealthy and well connected or even reserved to those whose parents had a burning love for knowledge.

While I do think that all children could, theoretically, benefit by the advantages of well done homeschooling
  • some families don't have the resources to dedicate to keeping one parent at home educating the children
  • some families don't *want* the responsibility for educating their children
  • some families don't have the 'culture of curiosity' that makes homeschool successful, and
  • some children will, unfortunately, find school a blessed respite from completely horrible, abusive, and dysfunctional home lives.
Public schools offer the opportunity of a basic education to everybody, regardless of who their parents are or how much money they have. Homeschooling was the original form of education, it's true -- but the only people who were being educated were those whose parents had the education to share and the luxury of time to share it or the resources to hire a tutor.

Today, every child, from any neighborhood, who is sufficiently curious and determined can get a basic education and learn what they need to know to continue to pursue education on their own terms.

Honestly, the public schools have made the current popularity of homeschooling possible. In the days when homeschooling was the norm, it was only the wealthy who had the basic education they needed to educate their own. In other families it was likely that both parents would have been illiterate. Thanks to the public schools, now any parent who is inclined to homeschool is probably well enough educated to learn what they need to know to teach their own children.

Public schools offer a reasonably uniform standard for education across an entire community, so that one can reasonably assume most people in a community will have a basic understanding of the essentials and will understand what they need to know for society to operate efficiently. That basic education of the majority of the citizenry has allowed developed countries to lead the way into the 21st century.

Public schools offer the to the community a citizenry armed with the tools with which to inform themselves, so that it is harder to "pull the wool over the eyes" of an entire community. An uneducated population is entirely at the mercy of those who speak well and can rouse a rabble. Educated citizens are still susceptible to an emotional argument, but with a basic education, a few can check the facts from which a loyal opposition can be born. This helps to keep our leaders honest.

There are many reasons to be thankful for public schools, and we would not like to live in a society where they were not supported and valued.


  1. I like how you seem to emphasize the word "basic" even if unintentionally.


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