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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Eating Their Own

As a homeschooler of nearly eleven years, getting ready to graduate my first this coming year, I am struggling with how to best educate them this coming fall. All but 1 and 1/2 of these past eleven years I have homeschooled privately. I always figured, if public school wasn't good enough, why would public school at home be good enough(IE: Charter School, Cyber School, Public ISP)?

We've had our ups and downs, hits and misses, successes and failures, but overall I think we've done pretty well. After eleven years I can look back and see where I did things right as well as honestly assess where I fell short.

Due to our current financial situation, and me feeling a need for some oversight and guidance I decided this coming year to enroll my youngest two in a Public CyberSchool; Connections Academy. This has gotten the response I suspected it may from fellow homeschoolers.

See, homeschoolers have a tendency to think their way is the only way, what ever that way may be....We tend to be free thinkers and rather opinionated, which aren't necessarily bad things, but it can lead to many a heated debate!

Most homeschoolers that I know seem to be very leery of public school, even public school at home type programs. Perhaps with good reason, let's face it, most public schools leave a bit to be desired these days! But the debate can get really heated when one enrolls in a public school at home program and tries to call it "Homeschooling." Such parents and their children find that once they enroll in a public charter or ISP that they are quickly shunned from the homeschooling community, no longer allowed in the homeschool support groups, co-ops, and even asked to stop calling themselves "Homeschoolers."

Never mind that these families may have been part of these groups for a decade or longer, perhaps even leaders in said groups, but now they are shunned and told they aren't "real" homeschoolers, and if this happens to be a Christian group, now said family is nothing short of a heathen, no longer a "real" Christian(let's see, whose the one not acting very Christ-like here?hmmm...)

Private homeschoolers see Public Charter Schools as a threat to "real" homeschooling. They fear that it may infringe upon their right to continue to homeschool as they see fit without public school/government interference. I can understand, I have held those same fears myself. Here in California we have had recent battles on the legality of homeschooling. But while I think families should have the choice to homeschool privately if they see fit, I also think they should have the choice to join a public school program, or (gasp) even go to public school! It's an issue of parental choice, not which educational method is best or even most godly(don't laugh, this is a big debate among Christian homeschoolers)

Perhaps if private homeschoolers were respectful of public homeschoolers and helped support their right to choice, then in turn the public homeschoolers will in turn help to defend your right to school privately. But if we are shunned, isolated, called names, have our faith questioned, don't expect us to come to your rescue if needed.

I have officially enrolled in the program, and received our books, and yet still am unsure this is what I want to do. This is a decision that has not come lightly, but I really need to evaluate how much is true second thoughts and how much is me being brainwashed after nearly eleven years that the public school is my enemy and I am less than a loving parent or faithful Christian if I choose to be in such a program, or that my kids will turn into heathens if we have any involvement in a public program.

I have to admit to formally being one of these judgemental homeschooling types, but after observing different families and schooling experiences I have come to understand that it's not as simple as public school vs. homeschool and one is more superior to the other. I have seen lots of kids graduate nearly illiterate from public school, but you know what?? I have seen some graduate from homeschool that way as well. I have seen homeschoolers enter Community College only to leave after a semester because they just couldn't cut it.

I have seen many a public schooler turn away from God, but I have seen the same in homeschoolers as well. On the other hand I have seen public school kids graduate and go into the ministry!!

I have seen great kids come from homeschooling, public and private, and I have seen rotten eggs from both! Not every thing is either black or white, good or bad...

I see the bigger issue as an issue of parenting. Parents caring and being involved in their children's education, either public or private.

We've got to stop eating our own so to speak! We need to stick together so we all have the right to parent and educate how we feel led rather than fight against each other. Not everything needs to be an "Us against them" issue.

I could write pages on this issue, and perhaps I will in a series of smaller posts sometime soon, because this "eating their own" issue isn't just about the public/private side of homeschooling, it can get just as heated over methods as well. I see this type of mentality often in homeschooling and in the religious community as well in regards to issues of theology and such. Why do we choose these things to fight over? I don't see this sort of attitude in other communities, why these two? Anyone?

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