Enough is enough. This country has chosen to continue fighting a losing battle, one that is impossible to win in its current form. Good people have spent their careers trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Why is it that a system that has worked for 150 years suddenly failing so miserably?
Well, the truth is actually that this is nothing new. It’s the external pressure from China and India that is finally taking the blinders off. In 1958, the National Defense Education Act was created to provide educational funding to all American schools. The launch of Sputnik signaled that America was falling behind in the Space Race and the related studies of mathematics and sciences. Since then, every few administrations release their own program for addressing shortcomings in our academic performance.
Educators, politicians, curriculum specialists, and administrators have spent over 60 years throwing money, training programs, assessment measures, and incentives to come at the education problem in different ways. What is the X factor? Teachers are overwhelmed and lack training/resources. Parents are overinvolved/uninvolved and demand too much/little of their school and its participants. Students are disengaged, bringing guns to school, and dropping out. America’s changing demographics mean multilingual classrooms with a growing gap in socioeconomic background, with all extremes of professional aspirations and learning dispositions. Educators and politicians can keep trying, but some parents have decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of worrying about 50 million students, they’re concerning themselves with saving just one.
Vigilantes. Rogue parents. Rebels. Homeschoolers.
A better word for what’s happening is desperation. Parents have been drowning in a failing system for years and this movement towards home education is a sign that parents are finally discovering their ability to take control and save their kids. Modern homeschooling has been around since the mid 1960s, but it was typically synonymous with fringe groups that were characterized by religious or anti-establishment imperatives. This is no longer the case.
You’ll still find that these groups are active in the homeschooling world, but a new class of homeschoolers is emerging. These are parents who are simply seeking to provide a better education for their children, one that is more experiential, tailored, flexible, and interest-driven. Research is finally demonstrating from a large scale that homeschooling is not a form of abuse or neglect, nor that it impairs children’s ability to succeed in life. The first major class of homeschoolers is now out of college and validating what educators like John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, and Pat Farenga have been saying for years.
- Perform 30 to 37 percentile points higher on standardized testing in reading and math
- Read at or above grade level
- Participate in 5 – 7 activities outside the home (on average)Are more likely to attend college and finish with a higher GPA
- Are more likely to say they’re happy
- Are more likely to feel capable of changing the world.
Homeschooling may not be the answer for everyone, but this movement is an indication of something greater. It’s a sign that millions of people are tired of waiting for Superman. They’re learning that access to quality education is not a privilege, but a right. Zip codes shouldn’t classify who gets a good education and who doesn’t. It’s not for the privileged few who can afford private education or the lucky ones who happen upon a spectacular public school or are chosen to attend charter schools.
Every single child has a right to learn the way they learn best, the opportunity to gain exposure to experts and options, and the tools to fight circumstance and succeed. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer, but everyone should have access to the window and gain exposure to all career paths, not just the one their parents walked. This means customized education: professional development, skills training, technology education and application. Beyond that, it’s a new understanding that learning doesn’t happen because school says it does. Education can happen anywhere and continuing to separate learning and doing will plunge American deeper into an abyss of mediocrity.
What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent – in the broadest and best sense, intelligent – is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgment, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them. ~John Holt, Teach Your Own
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Filed Under: UM Blog
About the Author: Christa Johnson is focused on helping new parents get started with homeschooling. She writes about homeschooling strategies and successes, including the latest research in the field. She is the founder of No Agenda Homeschool, which provides practical tools to start homeschooling with confidence.