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Schools Are for Parents

August 24, 2011

Much has been said and likely even more written about the effectiveness of America’s public schools. Other nations score higher in math and science. Home schooled kids routinely win the Scripps spelling bee. Private school students score higher on standardized tests. What is going on in our public schools?

I realize this does not apply to all public schools. It is a generalization based on averages. My boys attend public schools. We are generally pleased with their progress. I think I have figured out why kids who attend the same public schools as my boys are succeeding and so many other public school students are not. Parents. That’s right. Just like everything in the life of children, it falls on the parents. As a dad, I don’t say that lightly. I think the reason my kids are succeeding in school is the same reason private and home schooled students succeed. Parents.

Most parents who home school their children are not certified teachers. Most do not have advanced degrees. Many did not finish college. Why do the kids do so well? The parents care. The parents took the time to consider their options and make a conscious decision to educate their children at home. They do not home school by default. They do it, many times, at great personal sacrifice. It is a decision born out of a commitment to the best interest of the child.

What about private schools? Why do those kids test so well? It must be all the money those private schools have. In the vast majority of cases, nothing could be farther from the truth. Most private schools are strapped for cash. Teachers usually make significantly less than their public school counterparts. Most do not have the access to the high-tech equipment that a big tax base gets you. Again, I believe it comes down to the parents. The parents care. The parents took the time to consider their options and make a conscious decision send their children to private school. They do not attend private school by default. The parents send their children, many times, at great personal sacrifice. It is a decision born out of a commitment to the best interest of the child. I realize that many times this choice flows from an elitism that some parents suffer from, but my experience tells me most of the time it is simply parents who are willing to sacrifice for what they believe is best for the child.

This is why so many of our public schools suffer. Parents have never given thought to how they should educate their children. They simply utilize the local public school because it is there. They are not involved. I think this is why my kids’ schools are different. My two oldest attend a local middle school. But it is a magnet school focusing on math, science, and technology. You have to apply to get in. That’s right. A parent has to make a decision to send their child to this school. Because of our decision, my oldest (8th grade) is in a math class earning his 10th grade math credit. He already has his 9th grade credit. My youngest is in a local charter school. Yes, charter schools are public schools. They are funded by tax dollars. Again, you have to apply to get in. they make extensive use of the arts and technology. This will only improve his well rounded education over the long term.

The point is that we, as the parents of our children, bear the responsibility for the education and upbringing of our children. We made a decision to be in charge of and involved in that process. The main thing necessary to turn around the direction of America’s public education system is not more money, a better curriculum, or even lower student-teacher ratios. It is parents who care enough to be advocates for the education of their children. Make a decision. Educate your child.

What do you think? Would parents conscious decision to chose the school for their child make a difference? I would love to have some educator (teacher, home-school parents, etc.) feedback. Comment below!

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