Thursday, January 6, 2011

Raising a Child UU and Homeschooling

I have several wonderful friends who are staunch supporters of public school and while not critical of our choice to homeschool, they are concerned that because we choose to school our children at home, that we aren't involved in helping to change public schools for all children.

As a UU I understand their concern, but I think they misunderstand our reasons and how entrenched our current education system is in staying IN the system.

I am not anti-public school, I am pro-child.
I am not anti-change, I am tired of fighting a battle I am unlikely to win.
I am not anti-public school, I am for democracy.

Now, before someone gets mad at me for assuming schools are anti-child, I know there are great schools that put the child's emotional and social needs in front academics. I know that some people value academics, and rigorous curriculum/testing. I know there are teachers who teach use the democratic process in their classroom. I am aware of the current push down academics, Race to the Top nonsense and the stress that so many teachers, administers and parents are feeling in this current economy and antiquated system of education. I understand the need for standards and how poverty affects schools, children and families. No, really, I get it.

In fact, it is because I "get it" that I have chosen to not place my children in school. Schools are under pressure from the government, parents, teachers, administrators and general population- they are expected to be everyone to everything.

When my eldest was less than a year old, I was asked during a work review where I saw myself in five years- I answered, "well, if No Child Left Behind is still in place, homeschooling." I was partially serious, and partially kidding- little did I know I WOULD homeschool my children.

Since that statement I have worked within the field of education and have been actively involved in creating policies, lobbying for more sensible testing (to no testing), improvements in school lunches etc- so yes, I want better schools for all children- while I have felt that schooling my children at home is what is best for them. So never fear, I am a supporter of schools, education, and learning.

If there is one thing I know about being UU, it is that for every one person who wants choice A, there are 2 that want choice B and 5 that want an "all of the above" option. I believe raising my children as UUers allows us to build among and beyond ourselves a caring and compassionate community of life long learners who make the best choice for their family, while working for change for the whole community.

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