This is the story I wrote for the Gulf Coast Newspapers describing why we made a big decision regarding our son’s education. Check back in the days to come for updates on how our new way of life is going.
I feel like somewhat of a traitor because with my whole heart, I’ve always loved public schools. I’m the product of a great public school education from 1st grade all the way to an advanced college degree. I taught in public schools and saw the beauty of having all walks of life pull together, becoming friends and learning as one community.
But now we’re retreating and have decided to take our son out of the Baldwin County School System for the remainder of his high school years.
In the last few weeks, two of my son’s friends were sent away to out of state boarding schools, several are moving to private schools and there are others who are homeschooling.
What happened? Just as there’s no one cause for the brokenness, there’s no one quick answer for a solution.
Most teachers are saddened to see their passion for education being crimped. Funding issues, computers which eliminated both textbooks and taking notes by hand, political correctness gone mad, and the cutting of fine arts and language programs, plus many other things have all led to a less than perfect situation.
Educators can’t take all the blame because many families have placed a low priority on a quality education. As long as their student is passing his classes, they don’t care what the school or state rankings are, or even what is being taught in the classroom.
Parents sat silently and didn’t bat an eye at a meeting a few years ago when it was announced that no other language courses would be offered other than Spanish, but moments later, cheered wildly when it was announced a new Bass Fishing Club was being formed.
If we don’t demand it, we won’t get it.
The good news is that we have a few new common-sense School Board members and local city governments who are developing ideas that will certainly turn things around. Our current search for a new Superintendent of Schools will also bring fresh ideas.
Although different groups are pushing for different things, the positive spin is at least we know we live in a community where many people care. Citizens are researching innovative programs to meet our challenges, and my husband and I remain committed to help in any way we can. We realize that even though our children will be gone in a few years, the health of the school system is indicative of the entire community’s well-being.
However . . .the reality is, it’s going to take a few years to get it just right, and my son only has a few years left. He’ll be starting the 10th grade this year, and because we’ve seen how quickly our eldest son slipped through our fingers and into the world, we know time is precious.
These last three years will be pivotal in our son’s educational, social, emotional, physical and spiritual life. And to turn that short time over to a system in turmoil wouldn’t be prudent.
We’ve investigated private schools and for one reason or the other, decided they aren’t a good fit. So for us, the clear answer is to homeschool. Before you gasp and send me a butter churn, I promise you, it’s not what it used to be – sitting around Ma’s kitchen table by candlelight has been replaced by high-tech individualized action-packed, hands-on courses.
My son was actually the one who asked to be homeschooled and made a mature list of “pros and cons” to argue his case. He’ll take all the required classes, (thank you God for creating math tutors) and additional classes that wouldn’t have been available in regular school. He’ll double up on reading and on occasion, may actually write with a real pen and paper.
Every child is different. What’s good for mine, may be terrible for yours and vice-versa. But everyone deserves the opportunity for a quality education, and despite being in a state that ranks low in that area, I truly believe Baldwin County will rise above the challenges to be great once again.
Until then, I’ve found peace by realizing that although leaving public school made me feel bad, not being an advocate for my own child would have felt worse.
*This story first appeared in the Gulf Coast Newspapers.
If blog posts become sparse while we’re adjusting to our new routine, you’ll know it’s because I’m busy traveling, reading, exploring and learning with my precious, funny, fast-growing son.
I can’t wait!