Russell and Duenes

Reasons for Keeping Your Kids in the Public Schools

with one comment

gattoI heard it suggested the other day that careerism among women has played a significant role in propping up our public education system because it takes mothers out of the homeschooling pool. I don’t have the sociological data to confirm or deny the assertion, but it did get me to wondering. Further, John Taylor Gatto, three-time NYC Teacher of the Year and 1991 NY Teacher of the State, intimated that it was lunacy to hand our children over “to total strangers” for the majority of their waking hours for twelve years of their lives. Which got me to further wondering.

Wondering: What are the underlying justifications, rationales, motivations that drive Christians to keep the public school system going? For they do keep it going. I agree with one commentator who said that, if Christians abandoned public schools tomorrow, the system would collapse.

Of course, there are no doubt many Christians who would abandon the public schools if they did not need two incomes to support their families. It is lamentable that our entire economic system is set up to require dual incomes (it certainly was at my teaching job, a strong reason for leaving). These are the kinds of families that are in a double bind. They cannot afford a private Christian school, and they obviously cannot homeschool. Such families could be helped in providing a Christian education to their children were local churches to plant schools as necessary ministries of their overall ministry. Why this is not happening on a larger scale escapes me, but I should hope to get a better sense of an answer in the future.

On the other side, there are many Christians who think sending their kids to public schools is what Christ would have them do. Generally, their rationale seems to be one of mission, assuming that keeping their children there advances Christ’s gospel mission in our world. This makes total sense to me, though I reject such a rationale.

It’s the ones outside these two categories that I’m curious about. I know that each family is unique and has unique circumstances, so there are likely a million different reasons; but I would love to hear more of the reasons given for either not sending one’s children to private Christian schools when one has the means, or not homeschooling them.



Written by Michael Duenes

June 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

One Response

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  1. I am a product of public schooling, so I am by all means biased (though, we all are at all times, so this is rather moot). The biggest reasons I can see to send kids to public schools all seem to work together.

    Firstly, is the fact that in most states (or at least mine), you still pay for pubic schooling even if you have no child attending it. That is, if you have no children at all for 10 years of independence and then have a newborn, by the time your child reaches entry age (1st grade, in this case) you will have paid for 16 years of public schooling – more time than your child will spend in school. If you are going to pay for it, why would you then choose to pay even more (and often in even greater amount, those statement are not redundant) for private schooling? You can argue that it provides a better product, but the truth is that education is always what you make of it. Individual students, driven to succeed, will learn tons in any system.

    Which is the second point in my argument in favor. I was around students that couldn’t grasp pre-algebra, I know because I tutored them while I learned calculus. I consider myself intelligent, but that isn’t why I succeeded – I succeeded because my parents held me to a standard I eventually held myself to. Also, in an experiment I did, the students could perform and solve all the problems (even problems identical to the ones they claimed to have no clue on) when given a motivation they desired (in this case a free pop to whoever finished first).

    So, the cost barrier and motivation addressed, the final argument is not so much in favor of public schooling, but against home schooling. That is, that the fact of the matter is most people can’t (not shouldn’t) do it. Imagine all the things that your kids ask for help on given a particular topic in school? Math (algebra, trig, stats, calc), history (U.S, world, 20th century), English (grammar, literature), languages (French, German, Spanish, others), science (biology, chemistry, physics). These are the topics that every person is expected to know something about leaving a public school. Could anyone boast to being able to thoroughly teach them all? I certainly can’t, and given that a recent study concluded that most adults over 30 couldn’t pass the standardized tests given to 8th graders – I would wager neither could the rest of the us.

    There are ways around this last problem, namely co-ops. But this meets the unsatisfactory problem of needing to find at least 5 broad field experts (that know how to teach). But in truth you would want to have something like 12 more narrow focus experts (again, that know how to teach) so that you could properly emulate what is provided to a public school student. Then factor in that in any scenario this is probably the first and last time any home school teacher will deal with a particular curriculum or textbook, leaving them at a disadvantage to the teacher that has worked with them for the past 20 years (with other teachers on hand to give them advice when they are unfamiliar and new).

    Like I said, I am biased, but pubic schooling really does offer some advantages, especially over homeschooling. It is likely that a better education could be attained at a private school due to quality of teachers and lower student teacher ratios, but for many public school will be just as good (or bad) for the student, and a fraction the cost for the parent.


    June 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

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