Sunday, January 3, 2010



over the break i was sipping wine at a cocktail party, nicely chatting with a few women about the kindergarten curriculum they use to home-school their children.
no judgment- i was honestly completely fascinated and very curious about what sort of curriculum they used and what sort of activities they did with their little ones. as they got tired of my long list of questions they turned on me.
"So, how old are your children?" they asked, clearly thinking, after my extensive questions, that i'm about to announce that i'm considering home schooling my soon-to-be kindergartner.
i take a sip of wine, hoping they'd lose interest quickly.
"um, actually, i don't have kids"
eyebrows raise
"i'm, um, a kindergarten teacher"
"really?" one asks. "for the church?"
"um, no- (another sip of wine) for a certain public school district"
one of them smiles broadly. "oh! i know all about that public school district! our home school coach is on the school board there. he's home schooled all his children even though he's on the board there- you know, i think that says a lot about that school district"
i nod, not knowing what to say, take a rather large sip of wine and scan the room looking for someone else to talk to. i really had just wanted to know about the nuts and bolts of home schooling but now i was worried that if i responded to that last comment i may get thrown out of the party...

but, people of my district, did you seriously, seriously, elect someone to school board who never put his children in our schools? you're letting someone make decisions who thinks our schools are not good enough for his own children? so the decisions he makes will never personally impact him?
what were you thinking??


The Science Goddess said...

Our school board members here have sent kids through our public schools (taught a few of those kiddos myself). However, I am continually shocked by the large number of public school teachers who either have a spouse who home schools their kids or who sends their children to a private school. I might be able to understand if the family was particularly religious---but I can think of no cases in this area where that has been true. Teachers are even up front that they don't like the part of the curriculum that is church-based. They just don't want their kids exposed to a standards-based education because "it isn't fun." I always feel insulted when I hear that.

Sneaker Teacher said...

I think that although home schooling parents have the best intentions for their families/children and home school based on their personal preferences, they definitely express negative attitudes about public schools and I often feel burned. Even though they affirm that they are not judging, I always feel the need to defend myself as a public school teacher when faced with their ideals about the values of home schooling. Maybe that is just me being sensitive...


Kstack said...

I helped elect a School Committee Member who has taken some (not all) of her children out of the public school to home school them. One of them has since returned to public school for upper grades. I value her role on the school committee, because she acknowledges that the schools have areas of need, and she is working to improve them.

I prefer her position to the former school committee member who believed the schools were good enough for him and his kids, so they are good enough for anyone else. He did not have high expectations, and fought hard to keep our school underfunded.

Also, I am a public school teacher who's daughter chose a Catholic High School. I supported her decision, because it was what I needed to do as her mother. I know she missed out on some excellent public high school teachers, but she is a self-motivated learner who had a good 4 years and is now a college sophomore.

I think it's ridiculous to assume all public school teachers should embrace that environment for their own children. Teachers work hard to do their best in their own classroom, but cannot control what happens in other rooms or in other schools in town. Parents must never feel obligated in their choices for their children, simply because of their occupation.

Mary said...

I have always imagined you worked in our system (FCPS) but I now I truly hope it is somewhere else. Please tell me it is somewhere else as this is stunning.

I get the comment about the school board member whose kid ultimately elected catholic high school -- it is an organized system and the child did attend public schools before. I also understand home schooling for religious grounds. But to be on the school board and home school the kids because public school isn't good enough is shocking.

Kirsten said...

Of course, some/maybe many of the people electing him have no children in the public schools. Maybe they have no children at all.

But I also suspect that the Think Tank is a bit unusual among schools. It lacks serious burnout, for one. And it doesn't seem to be quite as buffeted by 'fads' in education. Because schools are run (at the top of the district) by elected officials and have to respond to the electorate, they are subject to fads in the worst way. When teachers and principals are exposed to that day after day, they may not want that in the education of their own children.