Why NOT Public School?

A couple of years ago, while engaged in a conversation with a fellow homeschooler, I made a fairly extreme declaration:

“I would never send my children to public school.”

A day or two later, this fellow homeschooler called me and challenged my statement.

“Why would you say something so extreme? You don’t really mean that, do you?”

In fact, I do mean it.

I acknowledge that this position is extreme. Parents decide to teach their children at home for a multitude of reasons. Many of these are more proactive than defensive. While I agree with many of the proactive reasons, for me they are all secondary. The main reason I homeschool my own children is defensive… I don’t want them in public school. I am a certified teacher and my arguments against public schools are based on experience and observations from more than 20 years of association with and involvement in public schools. I began to recognize many of these issues early on in my teaching career…some even before I graduated from college! And the problems I began to observe more than 20 years ago have only gotten worse in the years since.

So, the question remains: Why would I say something so extreme?

  • Schools are institutions designed to educate the masses. They are not designed to meet either the emotional or academic needs of the individual. As such, they will most effectively reach “the average” student, often missing the needs of the lowest and highest performing children.
  • Schools are places where values such as tolerance, acceptance, self-esteem, diversity, and relativism are esteemed more highly than academic excellence. Ironically, the tolerance and acceptance so tenaciously advocated is often not objectively practiced by its most vocal proponents.
  • Schools are places where a dangerous brand of socialization is valued. This brand of socialization insists that children are capable of preparing each other to be meaningful, productive members of society. This brand of socialization argues that being bullied, ostracized, and laughed at is a necessary part of the socialization process. (How else will your children learn to get along in the world?) This brand of socialization exalts rudeness and vulgarity over civility and decency. It values disorder and chaos over discipline and self-control. This brand of socialization favors the popular, the attractive, and the likable, creating a social hierarchy which diminishes the value of those who don’t “measure up”. Ironically, in a place intended for learning, this brand of socialization often values academic mediocrity over academic excellence. In other words, in school it’s often considered “not cool” to be smart.
  • Schools are places where government bureaucracy and union mentality prevent good teachers from being rewarded for being good teachers.[1] This same system keeps bad teachers from being penalized for being bad teachers and could even prevent dangerous teachers from being removed from the classroom.[2] And to add insult to injury, schools are places where parents often have no say in who teaches their children. The NEA (and the politicians whom they control) stubbornly refuse to create a system which would provide parents with their choice of schools—a system which would inevitably result in improvements to our schools and a better education for all our children.[3][4]
  • Schools are places where curriculum rich in revisionist history, humanism, environmental indoctrination, multiculturalism, and liberalism is often taught by teachers who share a similar agenda. Current “feel-good” teaching methods often stress self-esteem over academic excellence.[5] In much of today’s curriculum, activities which promote “teamwork” and “cooperation” are more highly esteemed than activities which encourage a strong academic foundation.
  • Schools are places where creativity and independent learning are stifled in exchange for “teaching-to-the-test”. Performance is judged by standardization rather than by the presence of inquisitiveness, curiosity and wonder.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

It was 1985. I was a newly married college graduate, recently certified and looking for a teaching job. I was reading a book, Child Abuse in the Classroom, by Phyllis Schlafly, which presented startling evidence of the existence of many of the issues which I have just addressed. I looked at my husband of just a few months and said,

“I will never send my children to public school.”

And I haven’t.


[1] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_22_06_JS.html
[2] http://teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.cfm
[3] http://www.mackinac.org/3298
[4] http://www.teachersunionexposed.com/blocking.cfm
[5] http://www.unc.edu/cr/features/books/stout-the-feel-good-curriculum.html


Linda Difino is a 40-something blissfully married, work-at-home, homeschooling mom of 4 amazing kids–23, 21, 19, AND 6. When she’s not home-making, homeschooling or working, she can be found blogging the joys and rewards of homeschooling and life at The Joyful Journey and at The Homeschool Apologist. A 20-year veteran of homeschooling, Linda enjoys being an educator and supporter of homeschool families in her hometown and around the country.

avatar Linda Difino (5 Posts)

Linda is a 40-something blissfully married, work-at-home, homeschooling mom of 4 amazing kids--23, 21, 19, AND 6. When she’s not home-making, homeschooling or working, she can be found blogging the joys and rewards of homeschooling and life at The Joyful Journey and at The Homeschool Apologist. A 20-year veteran of homeschooling, Linda enjoys being an educator and supporter of homeschool families in her hometown and around the country.


6 Responses to Why NOT Public School?

  • avatar
    Carolyn says:

    If there is any truth to any of these facts, could it be because the Church has removed itself from being LIGHT from a mission field that would love to know those who are willing to share the Good News. Many Christian teachers are in classrooms where there is not a child who has been raised with stories of the heroes of the Bible.
    It is hard to start a discussion without another child who can help keep it going. Today we have parents who are distraught with fear forgetting that the Almighty is both “Strong and Courageous” and is looking for rugged disciples who are “Strong and Courageous” because they abide in Him and He in them. Lets train our children to be “in the world but not of the world” (Christ’s own prayer for you and your children) by letting them practice from your home while you can help them to develop “Strength and Courage”…

  • avatar
    Sarae Martin says:

    As a mom who feels called by the Lord to keep her kids in public schools so that there will still be some light in the darkness, this article does little to encourage me.

    I know that there is a great debate of homeschool vs. public school. And I could go on and on about what I see happening in homeschooling. But instead of arguing with each other about what is the RIGHT decision, why not be advocates of what God is calling each individual family to be about. What God calls my family to be about will look very different than the things He calls your family to be about.

    If we as parents will be as passionate about seeking God’s will for our families as we are about rather our kids should be home-schooled or public-schooled, than maybe we can be an encouragement to each other to stand firm to the things of the Lord. If we as parents would chose to abide first, then we can stand in confidence of what God has called our individual families to be about!

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