Homeschool: An Insult to Public Ed?

by Ivory Soap on 12/25/2009

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“There are children every year, that you think,
If I could take that kid home with me for a year, he’d be an amazing student.”
–Mr. Ivory

My husband is a public school teacher.  He has a noble profession and I admire it and him.  Actually, especially him as he is one of the top teachers in the state, in more than my opinion.  He figured out a technological way that a kid with brittle-bone disease could attend class from home including answering questions, seeing the notes as they were written, and working problems on the board.  He’s a genius.

And as a genius, I respect his opinion of schooling-type things.  People are trying to fix our education system in 14 billion expensive ways, but he puts it simply…reduce the number of students per teacher.   With 35 kids per class, he has a limited amount of time and attention he can give to each student’s particular learning needs.  But with 15?  He says he could knock that ball out of the park and into the next state.

Hubby says that the majority of an education degree is about managing a different class of thirty strangers every 100 minutes for 7 hours.  But as homeschoolers, we don’t need to teach 120 per day.

I have three.

Would I walk into a classroom of 30 strangers four times a day and presume that I’m going to do a great job without any training?  NO!

But could I tutor three people that I have known intimately since birth?  That I know exactly who their family is and how much they study?  That know they gain nothing by whining that this homework/test/lesson is unfair?  I dunno, but I’m gonna try it out.

Is that an insult to his profession?

Hold on, lemme ask him….

–He says he’ll be alright.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug December 26, 2009 at 6:32 am

If the homeschooling is privately funded, no problem; your kids, your rules.
If the homeschooling receives public funds and the kids are held to the same standards as those in public schools, no problem; your kids, my money, same expected outcomes.
The same goes for private schools.

Kimberly December 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

It is definitely not an insult to public education- I do hope no one is saying that to you. Its a matter of personal choice. Since you have the capabilities and werewithall to do it, to coin a cliched phrase- you go girl!

vicki suan December 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

The first year we started homeschooling in 1999 was scary. I had one child to homeschool. Now, 10 years later, I have 2 more. The oldest one has graduated and is now in her sophomore year in college. We started off being privately funded and now are a part of the public/charter homeschool system. The kids are doing great and just loving it. More power to you.

Milo Henderson December 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I don’t know. Catholic school nuns used to handle 30>35 students at a time and they turned out some pretty good scholars.

Granola Girl December 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm

There are many programs in our area which allow you to publicly homeschool. Basically, they are charter institutions which count your child as a public schooler and thus receive the government funding for the child. They keep the records of curriculum, assess your child annually, and do a “check in” every week or speak to the child and talk about what they did in school. They child does not go to school, they are taught at home, but are counted as a public school child through the public school.

We homeschool this way because schools which are publicly funding are not allowed to make profit. The school is correspondence, they have a small overhead and parents get the rest of the money. We receive the government funds in the form of an allotment: 500 dollars for the year to spend on lessons (dance, music, computer, art, whatever), workbooks, text books, supplies, field trips, even a laptop. The only thing we cannot buy with the money is religiously based stuff. (They don’t care if I teach him this, just public funds can’t pay for it.) He is half time because of kindergarten status, we would receive 1200 dollars if he was a full time grade-schooler and more as a high-schooler. The financial help is allowing us to do SO much more than we ever could.

The greatest part is I get to choose our curriculum. I get to do all the instruction. I get to do school whenever and however much each day that I feel is important. The school is focused on growth (a test in the fall and another in the spring) and not on “grade level knowledge,” though I have a feeling if your child is significantly lacking they might talk to you due to legitimate concern. I am basically homeschooling, but with the help of public funds.

The second greatest part is that he is also considered a standard public school student so ALL records transfer. He doesn’t want to homeschool in two years, he can go directly into his grade level. If I feel uncomfortable with homeschooling high school, he can directly transfer into grade level. I have taught homeschool children which have tried to reintegrate in high school and middle school, and for our state direct grade transfer is not the norm. Most children do not test into grade level and find themselves losing years. This is just our state, I do not know about nationally. Sometimes it is literally two years back though and this scared me when I started with our son.

We have chosen this route so that we have the most options and it is something you might consider if homeschooling is really working out well for your family.

Summer December 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Exactly! I’ve heard people say how homeschooling hurts schools by taking kids away. I would think it would help, reducing classroom strain and giving teachers a lighter load. Goodness knows they need it!

AuntiePatricia December 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm

ivory, that is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing i have ever read. i am so happy for you and your husband and your children. the early curriculum is so important. i have a friend who teaches college classes who grieves over the illiteracy she encounters daily. i am sure your husband is an able teacher, as he has to be very intelligent to be married to a woman like you. not all teachers are as able and not all curricula are effective. something has shifted in the education system. i wish the sincere teachers were in charge of it instead of politicians.

CJStewart December 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm


Jennifer December 27, 2009 at 8:10 am

My husband is a public school teacher and we homeschooled for 4 years. Boy did we get some strange looks and questions. People just couldn’t figure us out. LOL We are no longer homeschooling, but we could change our minds at any time. You see, we do what is best for our kids at any given time. Many people don’t understand that.

Lindsay December 27, 2009 at 10:05 am

My husband’s late mother was a public school teacher and although we’ve encountered some resistance, none as much as my father-in-law. Since my MIL is no longer here to speak for herself, he finds it necessary to bash this idea everytime we mention it. On how Patsy would never approve and such. Now granted, my husband only knew her for 14 years, but they were inseparable and he is convinced she would be more than supportive of our decision, she would probably come and help me teach.
But how am I supposed to reconcile the fact that my slightly above-average daughter is already testing ready for Kindergarten at 3 years old? I want her to learn at *her* pace, not government mandated pace. And since my husband and I both went through awesome public schools, 2 of the best in the state, we both know how ill-prepared we were for college and the real world. So we’re taking the plunge and my daughter will start K next year around her 4th birthday. And I don’t know what pace she’ll take, but that’s the freedom we get with homeschooling.
I totally agree with your assessment of the classroom size. How can any child adequately learn the material when there are 35 children in a class, with 7 different learning styles, only about 5 are actually learning any one piece of information (on average). Those calculations just don’t make me feel like the 8 hours from home are being used efficiently.
So, the scoffers can say what they will, I love the one about socialization (this is a great rebuttal to that argument: ) but our children will not be freaks. They will be ready for higher education and the real world and they will learn how to *learn*. Most kids don’t know how to learn, they know how to memorize and cram for tests. This will be an interesting learning experience, but it will be fun!

ChulaVistan#1977 December 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

My daughter has, and is, homeschooling her family and it has worked out exceedingly well.

We often attend local gatherings of the homeschoolers in our area and it is a pure delight. Not only are the children bright, expressive and innovative; they are so well mannered and polite it truly makes one proud.

By having retained their ‘innocence’ and inherent child-like love and respect; they stand apart from too many in the ‘public’ schools who’ve been over-socialized and prematurely-sexualized.

You’ll find that most home schooling families are very careful about use of the TV and steer far away from the kinds of programs which tend to corrupt the youthful value system.

The next best thing to home schooling that I’ve observed, is parochial schooling. But even then, a very distant second place.

AuntiePatricia, I too grieve at the lack of literacy, speaking ability, spelling ability and thinking ability, which seems to be the ‘norm’ for public education. I applaud the few notable exceptions as in Ivory’s case. Her husband still has the ability to do his job as he sees fit. Too many public school teachers have lost that prerogative as they are ‘forced’ to comply with the ‘new methods and curricula’ without any deviation.

I worry for America.

Alice December 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

As a mother of a school teacher, I must agree with a few others about the size of the classroom. My daughter went from the standard 30+ students to a class of 15. The students in the first group did not do as well as the ones in the second group. There is more interaction among the smaller group and the level of achievement is greater as well. Ivory, you are to be commended for your willingness to take this route with your children. Among children, I have seen a marked difference in the method of teaching from public schooling, to private schooling, to home schooling. The intelligence factor is remarkable to say the least. What I have noted is the fact that stress levels are down among home schooled children working in a more relaxed enviornment compared to the other two options. Pushing, “teaching”, children to excel in the fcat tests for a higher rating in the state to state school comparisson chart compared to really teaching a child at home has started making itself known. When students are graduating at a 3rd grade reading level or a laborer can’t read a ruler correctly to measure because he couldn’t understand math in public schooling reveals itself quickly in the real world. What have we as parents done going along with the states program for schooling? Isn’t it time to take a stand and demand that our children receive a better education with the our tax dollars? I stand and applaude you for your decision to take your childrens’ education in your own hands. A note to Mr. Ivory, This in no way is a reflection on you as it is known there are some awesome teachers out there and you being one of them gets my vote for you to help Mrs. Ivory help your children become smarter than an overcrowded classrooms, publically schooled student. Congrats to you both.

Debbie December 27, 2009 at 8:27 pm

If I remember correctly, a vast majority of our founding fathers and their off-spring were home schooled. At what point in time did it become something that is frowned upon by society? I home schooled my two children for nearly two years and eventually caved in to the pressure that my husband put on me for having them out of the public school system. So, I put them back into public school and it wasn’t until after they were re-integrated back into the public school system that my husband realized our children were light years ahead of all the other children in school. They were forced to slow down on their learning to “stay” with the rest of the class. And these were awesome public schools with some of the very finest teachers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Keep up the great work. Our society needs more positive examples and good role models on good parenting. Lord knows that I see on a daily basis what poor parenting can do to a person (I am a paralegal in a criminal defense law firm).

Thanks so much for sharing your life with us.


Amy Sirk December 28, 2009 at 9:30 am

When I decided to homeschool I lost a dear friend who happened to be a public school teacher. But I knew it was the right thing to do. My daughter was not going to enjoy any success in the public school and had reached the point where she could not learn. We spent a year and a half relearning how to learn. I put her in a parochial school this year because she was ready. She had received all the benefits that she could from homeschooling and was ready to move on. Each child is different and you, the parent, know what needs aren’t being met by the public schools. No one can tell you what is right for your child, only you know what that is. I admire anyone who is willing to take on the task of homeschooling their children. Its a lot of work but worth the effort.

Stephanie December 28, 2009 at 9:52 am

My husband and I are both former public school teachers and we’ve homeschooled from day one. Since beginning HS I am amazed at the number of former and current public school teachers we know that are homeschooling their children. Homeschooling isn’t an insult to the profession of teaching, and shouldn’t be taken by any as such. Good luck Ivory! I’m cheering for you!

Kika December 28, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I’ve been homeschooling for nine years and my husband is a public school teacher. We need great public school teachers, to be sure. Not everyone will or ought to homeschool. I am thankful for the freedom of choice in my country!

Christy December 28, 2009 at 9:59 pm

I know of several families who have home schooled children successfully. I also know of some who are failing miserably. One family has a child the same age as my first grader who is unable to read due to lack of instruction. My husband is also a high school teacher and finds that many home schooled children fail when reintegrated into public school. There are strengths and weaknesses to both public school and home schooling. I suppose the art is determining what is best for your child. It also seems that involved parents also produce better students in both public and home school environments.

Kat December 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

This is completely off-topic, but I can’t get the contact link to work…
Remember the whole potato conversation about late or early varieties and the use of potato “cages?” Well I just got the Irish Eyes Garden Seeds 2010 catalog and there’s a gorgeous illustration of how to build the cages and the varieties best-suited for growing using this method. I’m absolutely drooling over it!

Mrs. Mac December 30, 2009 at 10:52 am

All of my adult children were home schooled for a good portion of their school years. All are able to read … and have found their way in life. My oldest struggles with dyslexia and would have fallen through the cracks had we not pulled him from public school in 1987. He still has dyslexia … but developed coping skills through all of the alternative methods to his education. He recently told me, “Mom, I’m not sure where I’d be now if you had not taken the time to home school me.” My youngest son has Down syndrome … the public school’s life skills class is the right option for him.

AJ December 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

My husband and I are both public school teachers, but I considered homeschooling our two children at one point. Finances, unfotunately, caused us to change our minds. I really envy you, Ivory. We can’t seem to make it on one teacher’s salary where we live–and yes, we are very frugal folks!

Maven Koesler January 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

I heartily agree with your husband about class size. My oldest son was in “Special Ed” for reading, math, and language skills. His old school (500 students, ave 25/30 per teacher) was telling me that he was mildly mentally retarded and would be placed in Lifeskills for second grade. I was discouraged from home schooling because he does need the language assistance and he LOVES school, his friends, and the socialization.
We moved one district over last spring and his old school refused to take him as a transfer.
It was the best thing that could have happened to him! The new school limits class size to 12/14 students per teacher. In this first semester he has gained 2 reading levels, and has been mainstreamed for everything but reading! His new teachers were flabbergasted when I told them of his diagnosis at his old school at his first ARD meeting with them.
Nothing was changed between the schools but class size and teacher expectations.

Kimberly January 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Former public school teacher here. Totally happy about my decision to homeschool my own children.

Sharon January 6, 2010 at 12:23 am

Homeschooling is awesome! I was homeschooled through middle school and when I went to high school I was able to skip a grade. My nephews have always been homeschooled and are way ahead of everyone else in their age group.

Patricia May 14, 2011 at 12:54 am

As a public educator and ex-“homeschooler” I say, “Carry on!” Contrary to many of my colleagues judgements about those who homeschool, it truly is a better way to educate both socially and academically. Stay the course.

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