School Choice

yourchoice.jpgI just read another article on “school choice.” Ugh!

One of the reasons the writer supported what he called school choice was to provide “a way out for thousands of children trapped in failing public schools.” Children are not “trapped” in public schools. There is no law that says your child must attend public school. Your state most likely has a law saying that your child must receive an education and attend some type of school, but it does not have to be a “public” (aka government) school.

School choice is alive and well in America today. In every state, choices include government schools, private schools, or homeschool.

Homeschool: Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in one form or another. In some states, homeschools must register as a private school. Laws vary widely from state to state as to government regulation. With homeschooling, the parent educates and/or oversees the education of the child. I say “oversee” because many homeschoolers are not educated only by their parent. Many homeschoolers attend co ops, private lessons, workshops, etc. in which they are educated by someone other than their parent. All expenses associated with homeschooling are paid by the parents. Homeschool expenses are not tax deductible. In the end, the parent issues the diploma.

Homeschooling requires a commitment of the entire family. Most homeschooling families are one-income families consisting of Dad being the breadwinner of the family while Mom educates the children. This requires the commitment of the entire family to stick to a tight budget and often find creative ways to be frugal. Educating the children is a full-time job, so running the household must become a family affair, not just Mom’s responsibility.

Private School: Private schools are flourishing in all 50 states. Some are university model schools in that they meet three days a week and expect the students to do homework the other two days of the week. University model schools are not to be confused with homeschooling. The school is in charge of educating the child and issuing the diploma. Private schools are often passed by due to the fact that they require a tuition. In some families, Mom takes on a job or home business to pay tuition.

Government School: Government schools have been commonly referred to as “public” schools. Money in the form of “taxes” is taken from local property owners to support these schools. These schools are run by the government. As with any government program, if you choose to participate there are strings attached. You will be told when, where, and how your child will go to school. The government will choose which curriculum best suites their needs and use it to indoctrinate your child. You will have no say so whatsoever. You can either like it or lump it.

In an effort to attract private school and homeschool students, our government has created charter schools and virtual schools. Charter schools are a way to make the parent “feel” like they have a say, but in reality it’s just another government school run by the government. Virtual schools are intended to look like homeschools, but they are not. They are still run by the government who dictates the curriculum and issues the diploma. Don’t be fooled!

We do have school choice in America. It is true that most parents choose to send their children to government schools. My opinion is that too many parents rule out homeschooling too quickly. Homeschooling requires discipline and a lifestyle change that many families are not willing to make. I’ve been told countless times, “I could never homeschool my kids.” With that attitude, they’re right.

No matter what educational choice you make, many state laws say that education is the responsibility of the parents. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to fully take on that responsibility or if you are going to delegate it to someone else. If you don’t like the choices available today, you are welcome to come up with another. However, government programs weren’t intended to include “choices,” and this includes government schools.

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