I finally had a chance to watch this film yesterday. I highly recommend this film if you haven’t seen it. It will make you think a lot about the state of education in the United States and about your own family if you have children. Even if you don’t have kids, you are a stakeholder in the educational system simply being a citizen since we are all impacted by how well we educate our country’s future.
A lot of thoughts come to mind. My heart simply aches over the painful dilemma of these families who are trapped in an educational system that simply doesn’t work. For the alternative solutions via charter and vouchers, there just simply isn’t enough to go around to fulfill the immense and overwhelming need that is out there.
As a mom, I completely understand the desire to provide the best education and all the opportunities you can for your child. This is why the pretty good, better, and best school districts keep going in that direction since people mortgage themselves in order to buy homes to live in those districts. This is also why people with children are fleeing the school districts in San Francisco and Oakland for alternative schooling options.
If you know me IRL, you know that I read a lot of public policy and education books. I am very interested and passionate about education even though I am not a professional educator. I try to stay current on the state of public education. Quite honestly, it is a pretty depressing scene. I greatly appreciate the efforts of those people like Michelle Rhee who are working their hardest to change what seems to be an impossible situation. I really admire Michelle Rhee and was disappointed to see a lot of her efforts unraveling. I have very little love for teachers’ unions even though I greatly value teachers. I am not a supporter of teacher tenure which will probably make a lot of people mad that I said that. I believe seismic change must happen quickly. All the sacred cows of education need to be on the proverbial sacrificial block.
To be honest, as much as I am passionate about educational reform, I don’t believe that the current system will serve my son well. So, our family is choosing to opt out of the system and go the homeschooling route for our son. Homeschooling is a fast-growing movement with more than 2 million students in the US. It will likely always be a minority in the educational community, but it will exist and is a vibrant and diverse community.
We have been homeschooling in one form or another since my son was a baby. It has become increasingly apparent to us that public school would be a huge step backward, and his needs would be lost in a class of 25 or more K students. My not quite 3 year old son already has a reading vocabulary of over 500 words, mastered phonics over a year ago, counts to 100, understands quantity, taught himself to write his letters and numbers a few weeks ago, and is currently working on single digit addition and subtraction. Where will he be in two years from now? Who knows? I have no idea where this journey is going, but I do know he won’t be a good fit for Kindergarten.
I know now that my current calling is to educate and nurture our son on his educational journey. This is a huge sacrifice for our family since it means giving up any income that I used to generate. It means a lot of work to prepare lessons, modify curriculum for a young learner, and a lot less time for myself. I am passionately committed to continuing to nurture his gifts, his passion and love for learning and to be able to go at his pace even when it is a lot faster than I want to go. Everyday is a new experience for the two of us on this journey. Especially as I continually learn to be flexible and to release my carefully laid out plans.
I imagine people might ask me whether or not I feel guilty about choosing to opt out of the system and not working from within to reform. To be honest, I don’t. I feel that we are making the best and right choice available for our family and our son’s needs which is the only thing that anyone can expect any parent to do.