This is a topic that’s been weighing on my mind for quite some time — the lack of respect when parents are debating homeschool vs. public school vs. private school.
Let me begin by saying I am all about parents making the best decisions for their families. Be it homeschool, public school, private school, religious school, educational co-ops, etc. I respect that most parents have their kiddos’ best interests in mind and act accordingly (as much as the reality of their lives permits). So PLEASE know that I am not judging others who school their children differently than I do.
The problem, as I see it
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend . . . that of making fun of other families’ schooling choices. On par with the so-called Mommy Wars, there’s demeaning name-calling, hurtful and inaccurate comparisons, and lots of one-upmanship.
Why in the world do we have to hurl insults at how other children are being taught? Why do some think that they’re lifting themselves up by putting others down? If we’re tearing each other down with our words, there’s less common ground for us to work together. If we want to create better educations for all of our children, there really needs to be a baseline of respect for each other.
Why is this on my radar?
As a mama, a teacher, and an educational blog writer, I hear and read a lot about education – be it educational journals, talks with parents and other teachers, informal articles and blogs, etc. This homeschool vs. public school vs. private school debate, and the disrespect that sometimes comes with it, has been on my radar for a while.
I’ve heard and read rude comments about kiddos and families in all schooling situations. Keep in mind I do NOT think the below comments are true, I’m just using them as examples of the mean-spirited nature of this “debate”.
- Public school children are aggressive, brainless zombies who can’t think for themselves.
- Homeschooling families are religious freaks, and homeschooled children are socially incompetent.
- Private school children are pampered, rich snobs who don’t have to work for their diplomas.
A few personal incidents brought it even closer to home . . .
My mind has been swirling ever since I read a certain homeschooling article a while back. It was meant to lift up and support other homeschooling parents, which is a nice thought (in my opinion). In doing so, though, it put down mothers of public school children. It said something along the lines of public school mothers “giving away the best of their children”. It hurt my heart, as I’m mama to a public school student.
On the heels of reading this article, I heard people close to me tearing down public school teachers and students — saying that teachers don’t do anything, that teachers aren’t ever willing to learn and change, that public school children aren’t learning anything, that those students are going to be brainless adults who can’t function on their own, etc. It was said that homeschooling families are basically better than families in the public school system. My reaction was hurt, defensiveness, and anger. After a time, those feelings have tapered off into frustration.
Why is it even happening?
I think it’s happening for a variety of reasons. The optimist inside of me thinks many of the comments are born out of a lack of knowledge. Perhaps the different “camps” just don’t understand the pros and cons of the others. Perhaps the comments are being worded without really considering the effect they’ll have.
The realist in me, though, sees other reasons behind all of this. It could be insecurity about their own schooling choices – “I’m not sure my choice is right, so I’m going to tear down others to make myself feel better.” It could be defensiveness – “You said something bad about public school, so I’m going to say something bad about private school. See! I’m better!” It could also just be a serious lack of respect and understanding for others. Some people inherently feel better about themselves when putting others down, and that might be at work here a little bit.
“Choices” when deciding homeschool vs. public school vs. private school
Keep in mind that not all families have much choice in the matter. Personally, I’m a single mama to an awesome 7-year old boy. I don’t have the income to put him in private school. I don’t have the income or the time to homeschool him, as I need to work outside the home to support my son and I. So he’s in public school (at a great school, with an absolutely wonderful speech therapist, and he was blessed with great kindergarten and first grade teachers).
That’s an oversimplification of the facts, but that’s what it boils down to. I must admit, though, that I’m a bit jealous that others DO have a choice in the matter. Call it childish, but I want to have the same choices that other parents have. I want my son to have the same opportunities given to others. But we don’t, and that’s just reality. 🙂 I don’t know what option I’d pick if I did have a choice, but it would be nice to have it.
I recently read Manic Pixie Dream Mama’s Luxury of Choice, and she puts it far more eloquently than I. Her comments are more in regard to attachment parenting, but she still hits it spot on for this topic as well.
My suggestions are simple:
- Make the best educational choices you can for your family and your family’s individual circumstances.
- Give other families the benefit of the doubt that they’re doing the same.
- If you need a pick-me-up, focus on all the good you’re seeing within your own family.
- You know you’re doing the best for your children. Honor and support your own choices, even if others choose not to.
- Remember what works best for one family might not be best for another family. That doesn’t make either family’s decision better . . . just better for them.
- If there’s disagreement, keep name calling and demeaning words out of it.
- If the local school system needs reform, get in there and let your voice be heard (no matter how you’re schooling your children). Every citizen has a right, a responsibility, to speak up for positive change.
For more information regarding schooling choices for your family, check out the following articles:
- Creekside Learning shares how she’s preparing to send one of her kids to public school while homeschooling the others.
- Pragmatic Mom’s decision-making process when deciding between public and private school.
- Fantastic Fun and Learning talks about making the best schooling decision for her family.
- Not Just Cute‘s guest posts at Life Your Way about teaching your child no matter what schooling situation you’re in.
- Twodaloo discusses how to decide if a preschool co-op is right for your family.
- Frugal Fun for Boys shares what to think about if you’re considering homeschooling.
What are your thoughts about respect in the homeschool vs. public school vs. private school debate?