Thursday, March 31, 2016

Love me some learning

Did you ever think that America would ever seriously consider electing a socialist? I mean really vote for a candidate that was running as a self proclaimed all out socialist? Why would a people who are free to make their own decisions and choose their own future ever want to give up such a luxury? I believe its because they don't know any better. They don't know what socialism means any more than they know what capitalism means. All they know it that they have a lot of student debt and the socialist has promised to make it go away. They know that the poor blame capitalism for their poverty. They like the idea of being open to ideas and new ways of thinking. They have no idea how many times socialism has been tried and how many times it has failed. This election is revealing a lot about American's and our lack of understanding. As confused I am about the support we have seen for Bernie the socialist I am equally confused about the support for the billionaire playboy dictator . Here we have a man who has absolutely no morals, integrity, or virtue. We have seen that demonstrated throughout his personal and professional life. Trump supporters have told me that none of that is necessary to lead a country. Apparently they are unfamiliar with our country's history or the history of the rest of the world for that matter. If they were more familiar with history and our Constitution they would be terrified of a candidate who offers solutions through any means necessary. They would never consider supporting a candidate who has no intention of being held in check by the Constitution. And then there are the Hillary supporters.....I suspect their issues run a little deeper than being uniformed. But I am choosing to be optimistic and maintain  that with a lot of work there might still be some hope for them.

Where does the problem start? If we take a look at our public school system we might find some answers. The Council for Economic Education released a report stating that in 2016 only 20 States require their high school students to take courses in economics. Less than half of the States require high school students to take classes in civics. And only three States require civics taught in middle school. Studies also show that less than 25% of students are considered "proficient" in American history. Lucky for us our children's education isn't the governments responsibility; Its ours. As parents we are responsible to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. We are fortunate to have several different options to choose from.

Let me start by saying I was homeschooled and I loved it so I am a little biased towards this option. That being said I understand that it is not for everyone. Let me go over the benefits and statistics and then you can decide if its a fit for you and your family. Probably the biggest draw to homeschooling is that you have complete control over your children's curriculum, you choose what your children learn. This means your kids will actually get to study American history, economics, and American government. Another draw is the personal one on one attention your children get. As their parent you know them better than anyone else. You know how they learn, you know their strengths and weaknesses and that makes you the best candidate for the job. We all know that children struggle and excel in different areas. Homeschooling allows your kids to moves as quickly or as slowly as they need to. It has the advantage of giving your kids the chance to fully understand and comprehend the subjects before they move on. Now let me take a moment and address the elephant in the room. Everyone will tell you that they knew a homeshcool kid and he was super socially awkward. I'm sure those same people also knew plenty of kids in public school we who were super socially awkward as well. The truth is your kids will have so many different opportunities to socialize through sports, music, dance, your community, neighborhood, and church that you really shouldn't let the issue be a deciding factor. And then the next concern is college. Will they be prepared? Seventy four percent of homeschooled students go on to college and 66.7 % of those students graduate. As a comparison the average percentage of students who graduate college is 57.5%.
Homeschooling requires a lot of discipline on the part of the parent and the child. It also requires a huge commitment of time. As I said, I am a huge advocate of homeschooling but I also understand its not a perfect fit for everyone.

Private school
The obvious benefit of private school is that you can find a school that shares your educational ideology. Private schools generally have smaller classes, they tend to encourage heavy parent involvement, and they hire teachers with advanced degrees who are passionate and dedicated. Private schools also have the advantage of ample resources and offer excellent extracurricular activities. Probably the biggest draw back of private school is the costs. The average cost for private elementary schools is $8,440 a year and the average for private high schools is $12,900. For many families this might not be an option.

Charter School
Charter schools are publicly funded independent schools. They are established by a group of parents, teachers, or some community group. Because they are publicly funded these schools are held to specific academic standards but they are free to follow more unconventional paths. There are many charter schools that put a major emphasis on history and American government. Some of the benefits of a charter school include, high parent involvement, a specific teaching methodology, and smaller teacher to student ratio.

Public School
Let's say that due to your economic or family situation your only option is public school. That's just fine. You can still be heavily involved in your child's education. Apart from volunteering at the school you should know what your child is learning. Go over what they have discussed in class. If you feel that they aren't covering all that you think they should or they are learning things you do not agree with then encourage some self learning at home. You can start by getting them some history books to read. Yes there are exciting and interesting books on history that are accurate and fun to read.

There are of course many other options that I haven't mentioned. And I am by no means an expert on education. The point is that as parents our children's education is our responsibility and it's time we take charge. We must make sure that our children understand history, economics, and civics. If we do not prepare them for the responsibility of freedom they will never enjoy it.

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