A friend of mine recently posted an article expounding the merits of homeschooling. The article states that children who are homeschooled are more intelligent and creative than their public schooled counterparts. I respect that some people choose to home school their children. If they have the financial means and the ability to teach their own children, then so be it. However, to demonize public education as stifling the creativity and intelligence of children is a travesty. It is also not a fair comparison, as public schools must educate all children regardless of socioeconomic background and preparedness for school.
In sort, public education is what the students and parents make it to be.
Yes, there are teachers who have given up trying to teach for the sake of passing on knowledge and have succumbed to teaching to the test. They have become robotic rather than creative and would rather churn out test-taking automatons and remain employed rather than rage against the system and demand more of themselves and their students. There are even teachers who are demonized for having advised their students not to perform well on pre-tests so that their test scores will increase on the post-test so that they, the teacher, can remain employed the following year. (A trend that will grow with more and more high stakes testing and teacher pay/performance based solely on test data. And, yes, it happens everywhere and even with administrator approval so long as the teacher does not get caught. If that occurs, then the teacher is left alone to suffer the consequences and the administrator acts shocked at the suggestion. How to I know this? I witnessed it on a daily basis as a teacher when the idea of pre-testing and post-testing came out in my former district).
Homeschooled students may progress at a rapid rate because they can specialize in certain areas where they are strongest and there are fewer distractions. However, they must learn to live and work with others who are not family members nor are like them socioeconomically, racially, or theologically. This cannot happen in the sheltered environment of a home school situation unless the parents intentionally expose them to people and situations that are not like them. This rarely happens. How do they learn to date without there being others to practice the rituals of dating and human relations? Some do, with struggles in learning, and some never learn this.
Humans are social animals. Without that socialization comes a myriad of issues from simple isolation to dangerous tendencies that go unnoticed until the stresses of life overwhelm the student and cause him or her pain beyond anything he or she has experienced in the safe confines of the sheltered home school environment.
No, homeschooling is not the answer nor is it the panacea that some make it out to be. It is taking a malleable, sentient being and placing their potential academically and socially in a box their parents determine is safe or within the parameters of what the parent wants rather than what the child or future society may need.
Public schools need to be fully funded with good, current textbooks and have classes taught by teachers who love their subject and the students whom they teach as if they were their own children. Public schools need to allow teachers to teach their subjects without worrying about their jobs. Public schools need to trust that teachers will do everything possible to help their students learn the subject matter as well as a bit about themselves. Public schools need to pay their teachers a living wage as well as a wage that rewards teachers for obtaining higher degrees rather than higher test scores. Public schools need technology that is up-to-date and relevant for their students.