I can't send my kids to public school. This is a national shame.
Both I and my wife are the products of public school. I still remember a few of my high school teachers who encouraged me, and taught me more about life than just the curriculum in the classroom. My kids won't be going to public school though.
It's not about the teachers. Most teachers work hard, care deeply about their students, and do their best to educate our kids. By educate, I mean not just teach the material, but help our kids understand what learning is, and help them become learners for life. There are always bad apples, but I don't judge the apple tree by the rotten fruit on the ground.
It's not about the school board. I live in a small city, in a medium sized county, that's not part of a metropolitan area (100 miles south of Atlanta). I know several of the current and former school board members. They're good people. They want what's best for the kids. Most of them have kids in the school system, or did at one point.
It's not about Common Core, although that's troubling. Erick Erickson revealed what's on every mother's mind: the new curriculum is ridiculously confusing, and moms can't help their kids with math. I can get past the weird math and even using our kids as lab mice by endlessly testing them. I can even get past schools teaching history and science using theories with which I don't necessarily agree. I can defend my own views to my kids, and I actually want them to question and understand why we believe what we believe as a family, and reach their own conclusions.
The reason my kids won't be going to public school is terror. Not "terror" in the sense of terrorists, or gunmen, or kids going on a stabbing spree. If I dwelt on those worries, my kids would never leave the house. By "terror" I mean fear for their minds and their mental health.
American public schools have become the ultimate model for Orwell's "Animal Farm". It's a microcosm of the police state, where every rule, every denouncement, every complaint, is taken to its logical--and absurd--conclusion. If I sent my kids to public school, I would worry about their very sanity, navigating through such a maelstrom of fear, confusion, and corruption.
Yes, corruption. Not in the sense that the schools are stealing money, or cheating (although Atlanta has some issues). In the sense that my kids' minds will become corrupted by exposure to materials I wold not show them at such a young age. This is the kind of stuff that the curriculum designers want my (and your) kids to see in first grade.
I understand that there are different kinds of families, but is that a topic that has to be paraded in front of my child in the presence of an adult whom we tell our children to obey without question (the teacher)? Groups like GLSEN want to introduce sexual preference to my kids when they're only a few years out of diapers. I don't want this inflicted on my children's minds.
There there's "zero tolerance", which brings us beyond a dysfunctional environment into bizarro world. Children are taught that "tolerance" is the highest virtue; it is preached day and night in public schools. Except for things that aren't tolerated, and there's no exceptions. A seven year old is suspended for eating a pop-tart into the shape of a "gun", leading a Florida lawmaker to introduce legislation to protect children from punishment for "brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food in the shape of a weapon." Unspeakably absurd.
I don't want my children afraid of the gulag because they are just being kids.
And there's the totalitarian trump card: accusation. Not accusation by the kids, but by a single offended parent. Our local school board had to bow to the pressure of a complaint regarding a prayer at the high school graduation. School boards across the nation are bullied (irony intended) into submission by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which files lawsuit after lawsuit against school boards. These are costly to defend, and getting the wrong judge can result in court-ordered gags placed on students and teachers.
I don't want my children accused of doing wrong just for praying.
Yes, this happened: a five year old in Oviedo, Florida, was told it's "wrong to pray" when she was praying over her lunch. This child stood up to the lunch lady, but most just comply: after all, we teach our kids that adults at school are authorities to be obeyed.
I don't want to send my kids to public school and have to tell them to resist authority, or tell them about their First Amendment rights. What does a six year old know about the First Amendment?
A six year old should not have to learn anything except reading, writing, and arithmetic at school. That, and how to obey adults in authority, how to socialize and make friends with kids who are different from themselves, and how to become a learner.
I can't send my kids to public school because there they will learn that Christians belong in the closet, that standing up for yourself is intolerant and hateful, that everybody must affirm and celebrate everybody else regardless of what they believe (except Christians), that cultural rules and "norms" are just old fashioned roles to be broken, but the rules of the school are inviolate without exception. That's not learning, it's indoctrination.
I can't send my kids to public school because they'll come home every day and I'll have to undo the daily damage done to their fragile psyches, if it can be undone. I know we talk about reforming the system from the inside, but I think American public schools are past that point.
As for me and my kids, we withdraw. I hope millions of others choose to do the same, until the neurotic nightmare ends and sanity returns to public education.