One of the only things that people have in common, no matter which side of the political spectrum they fall on, is education. Kids should learn how to read, write, add, subtract, and multiply. Children need to learn about how plants grow, what the Renaissance was, and who Teddy Roosevelt was. But allow me to let you into a little secret: public school is a terrible idea.
I have hundreds of reasons for saying such a thing, but I’ll limit myself to the fact that it doesn’t work. You don’t learn anything in public school – except immaturity and immorality. Trust me: been there, done that. I was home-schooled from 4th grade (I think) to 7th grade, and I went to public school from 8th grade until I graduated high school. I spent fourth through seventh grade learning how to teach myself: by seventh grade, I did all the work myself without my parents helping me. They gave me a schedule and checked my work. I taught myself about the fall of Rome, the British Empire, photosynthesis, and solving equations. In public school it was “Repeat after me” and “This and this and this will be on the test tomorrow.” It was absolutely pointless and ineffectual. And I’m saying that as one of the kids who graduated in the top 10%, 14th in a class of 370ish. But that isn’t the situation for most kids. Over the summer, I worked as an in-home tutor. I given a list of goals and areas in which the student needed help, and my job was to teach them (because that’s what a tutor does). There was one sixth-grader who could not read. Literally. It took thirty minutes to read two pages from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There was a ninth-grader who did not know how to divide. Now, I’m not being judgmental, and I’m making fun of those kids: I’m proving a point. The public school system is a failure. There is no reason for a ninth-grader to not know how to divide and for a sixth-grader to be unable to read. And we didn’t have enough tutors to help all the kids.
Why is this? Why is the public school system such a massive failure? This is a very complicate question, but it boils down to three key aspects. First, public school is not individualized. Every teacher has hundreds of different students (teaching several classes at approximately 30 students per class). There is no possible way for any teacher to make sure that every student is correctly learning the material. It is humanly impossible. A teacher cannot spend thirty minutes teaching each student individually: even at only one class of thirty students, that’s 15 hours a day (30 x 30 = 900 minutes. 900/60 = 15 hours).
The second problem is that the public school system is run by the government. Here’s what the government does: it tells schools what children need to be taught. It says that kids need to learn about evolution (and only evolution) and algebra and U.S. History. A real education is teaching a child how to learn on his or her own, instead of handing all the answers to them. It’s the age-old proverb: give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a life-time. That’s how I teach (I do private tutoring when I’m not catching bad guys): I never give the student an answer; instead, I help the student figure the answer out. Essentially, the modern public school system is nothing but government brainwashing.
The third problem is – obviously – financial. The government, (sarcasm warning) in all its wisdom, decided that bribing schools is a good way of increasing test scores. The schools with better numbers get more money. And it worked. Except that the quality of education is worse. Proof? During my freshman year of college (I went to a state-funded school), my Russian history professor informed us that the President of UofL had told all of the profs to make sure the students passed their classes (which means pushing them through and ignoring grades). Why? Money. Not only would the university continue getting revenue from tuition (which is an evil thing, anyways: making people pay $50,000 for a worthless piece of paper), but they would get more government funds. The professor then went on to tell us that he wasn’t going to follow those orders – in choice vocabulary – which I still highly respect. What matters in the public school system is that kids pass, not that they learn. It is simply broken.
But at the core, the problem is the entire concept of “public school.” Parents, not “the public,” should be responsible for the education of their children. In fact, that is the function of parenthood (and marriage, really): to raise children. And all the objections, all the excuses, are futile and foolish, except in the case of single parents (which is a unique problem). There is no good reason for a married man and woman to send their children to “public school.” What about the woman’s career? Motherhood is the greatest and most glorious of any career any woman could ever have, and part of that is teaching your kids. A modern family needs two incomes? Then the man needs to be a man and get two jobs, or three. No sacrifice is too great for your children. See, people like to make excuses, and they really like letting others take responsibility for work they should be doing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying home-schooling is the easy thing to do: I’m saying that it is the right thing to do.