Tony and I don’t have children yet, however, education has long been a passion of mine.  I have often been pulled in two directions when it comes to public education vs home schooling, and this morning on the radio I was provided with more to think about.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has voiced his intent to lengthen the school year by 20 days, to institute full-day kindergarten and to rid the school systems of “bad teachers”.  I didn’t have time to research this next tid-bit of information, so it may be a rumor, but I also heard talk of lengthening the school day.  You can find more details regarding these issues here.

My opinions are many, and my experiences are few.  The bottom line is that I am not a parent, so I’m not sure what the right answer is to any of this.  However, I have been and continue to be, a student…so this is what I think:

I am an advocate for home schooling for many reasons.  Some of these reasons are prime factors in Gov. Strickland’s attempt at revitalizing OH schools.  It is EXTREMELY difficult to fire a teacher who has been tenured, and while I applaud teachers for their contributions, and at one time I aspired to be one, I also believe that there are MANY teachers out there who should never have been licensed…and there is nothing we can do about it.  This needs to change.  In regards to lengthening the school day, or even the school year, my thought is a simple one: stop wasting so much damn time.  There is no reason a school day needs to be six to eight hours in length.  It’s an issue of quality vs quantity.  I also believe that there are too many days off for teacher conferences, extended weekends, etc.  Do us all a favor; consolidate.  

Did you know that it is possible for a child to complete twelve years of education and know absolutely nothing about the real world once they graduate?  I know this because I was one of them.  Children need to be more aware of current events, they need to know SOMETHING about money and budgeting their money, they need to know more about governement…Children need to be more prepared for the work force…ESPECIALLY if they choose to opt out of a college education.  But even those that do attend college oftentimes have been spoiled, and they do not know how to take direction, they do not know how to respect their peers, and they do not know the value of a work ethic.  While I agree with those who say that many of these attributes are ones that should begin in the home with the parents, I am not so ignorant to believe that all children have the luxury of “ideal” home lives.  We live in a world of two-parent incomes where family time is often spent in front of the television, and for some children, this is even a stretch.  Not every family eats dinner together and not all parents help their children with their homework.  The circumstances of children is so individualized that it is almost impossible to create a school day, let alone a curriculum that will meet everyone’s needs.  And this is why I often think that in order for my children to succeed, I feel it would be in their best interest if I educated them at home.  Because as their parent, I could individualize their education more than someone who doesn’t know them at all.  And yet, there are things that only the world can teach them…

Things like, how to take direction from someone other than their mother, how to work well on a team, how to be assertive in an uncomfortable situation…these are things that I learned in school…things I learned because I was the New Girl so many, many times.  Things I learned because I didn’t have a choice…I either learned them, or I failed.  How do I teach that at home?  And if I send my children to school in order to prepare them for these certainties in life, how do I guarantee that they will learn the other things they need to know in order to succeed?

The answer, for me, is that there are no guarantees.  And so when the time comes, I will have to decide which way is best for everyone in the family.  I only hope we will be able to supplement where things have the tendency to lack.  I don’t know what the answer is for Ohio schools, and I don’t know if this education overhaul will work how Governor Strickland intends.  But I will be watching closely.

What do you think?