Raising Richmond: The Great School Debate

Public? Private? Homeschool? Where do you stand on The Great School Debate? Here we share our thoughts, and opinions, and a few worries (ok, lots of worries). We hope you’ll share yours, too.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the newest installment of our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a little while). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Today’s question: Public? Private? Charter schools? Homeschooling? Where do you stand on The Great School Debate?

The Salgados

Oh, how I miss the bliss of preschool. The days where play and art are the primary form of learning. Being a former preschool teacher myself, I was completely unfazed by sending my kids off to the care of others, mostly because the doors were so wide open. It didn’t feel like leaving that much at all — it felt like a visit with your favorite auntie.

Elementary school, well, that was a different animal all together.

All of the sudden I felt like we were releasing our boy into the great big world… and maybe even a jungle. Someone I just met two days ago would now spend eight hours a day with my kid, seriously limiting my own time with him. We were officially inviting a stranger into the influencing-our-child mix in a major way, and that scared the bejeezus out of me.

It is hard not to become obsessed with the decision of where, when, and how. The six months before kindergarten became known as The Great School Debate at our house, and boy, were there lots of questions flying around.

Do we send him to our local city district school that isn’t that great now but is up and coming? It isn’t that diverse, so will that be a problem for our kid who will be the minority?

Do we try to lottery him into one of the three “good schools” in the city? Does that mean we aren’t investing on our primary community if we choose that route?

Do we attempt to send him to a private school we can’t really afford? Will we be wading into a more elitist world then? Is the learning environment too intense?

Do we homeschool? Are homeschool kids just a little weird? Is it a good weird?

(Charter wasn’t even a twinkle in some one’s eye at the time.)

Call me a helicopter, fanatic, liberal, crazy parent, but these are the honest to God thoughts that I grappled with. I was fully aware these are first world problems, but at the time they all felt so much bigger than they were. Truth be told, I couldn’t quite find what I was hoping for in any of my options, but I am pretty picky and dream big. I went on tours, researched on the Internet, and sat on the edge of sandboxes at the park to talk to other parents in the same boat. I called older mothers when it all felt too overwhelming to talk me off the silly ledge. In the end, we decided to try to lottery in to the good schools; if we didn’t get in, it would be our sign to go to our neighborhood school. We didn’t get in and off we went, until a week later we got a call there was a spot for our son at one of the schools, but we would need to decide soon. Very soon.

We felt conflicted. This was a curve ball in our universe-revealing plan. I went to pick up food from Oburrito (oh, how I miss that place) and asked the guy making my burrito what he would do. Should we stay and invest or go to something more solid? He smiled and said he thought we should do right by our kid first, so we did. Turns out later, his own kid went to the same school. The school has been fine — nothing earth-shattering, but good. What I missed in the whole debate was one very part of the equation: our kids have us, and we have them. We really cared and would help our kids through anything, come what may. Children are much stronger than we give them credit for and with our support will find a way to be in the world that is good for all. We can and should be putting our trust in each other… or at least this is what I tell myself.

Did someone say middle school?

The Catrows

With most parenting decisions, my husband and I don’t waffle. We knew right away where we stood on breastfeeding, co-sleeping, vaccines, and what have you. But the topic of schooling has led to some sleepless nights, at least on my part. And we’ve got three to four years before it’s even a real issue!

We take education very seriously — not in a snobby way, but, you know, knowledge is power, etc. While we feel so very fortunate that we have educational options to choose from, those choices can be somewhat paralyzing/suffocating/”oh my hell, what do we dooooo?” for me. Just ask anyone who had to be in my vicinity as I was trying to nail down a day care situation for our son. It wasn’t pretty.

Put simply, to say I feel conflicted about schooling would be an understatement. In fact, it kind of turns me into a fretting, crazy person.

My husband and I are products of public school (albeit suburban ones) who went on to graduate with honors from respectable universities. I taught in the public school system for four years and loved the diversity of it. We think one of the most important factors to the success of neighborhood public schools is having parents who have intentionally enrolled their kids and are committed to being involved with what goes on in the building.


While our city neighborhood feeds into a solid elementary school (where we do plan on sending our son), middle school and high school in our area are great, big, terrifying unknowns, as they are for many parents who have chosen to live within the city limits.

Part of me thinks, “We’ve made the choice to invest in Richmond by living in the city; if we’re going to walk the walk, we better be ready to really walk it.” So we should just keep the kid enrolled in our neighborhood schools, be supportive of what they’re doing, and commit to making it work for our family.

Here’s another but…

At the same time, I don’t want to potentially short-change our kid just to prove a point, to say “Look how awesome and socially-aware we are, all living in the city and what not.” We have no plans on moving, so if we’re not comfortable with the middle and high schools in our area, we owe it to him to explore the other option of private school, right? But to be honest, while the idea of a likely smaller school is appealing, the private route causes hand-wringing as well. Aside from the expense (which is actually comparable to what we pay for day care… my checkbook groans whenever I open it), private school is totally uncharted territory for us. Will it be diverse enough? Will he fit in? What if their academic approach isn’t a good fit and we have to start the search all over again? And is the prospect of paying for school absolutely ridiculous when there is a free one right over there?

When it comes down to it, I just want to do what’s best for my kid and what makes the most sense for our family… but I currently have no idea what that looks like. So, I’m turning to you. Please share your thoughts, your experiences, and your opinions. My husband would really appreciate it — one can only take so much of a hand-wringing madwoman.

Ok, your turn

What schooling route did you choose and why? Did you even have a choice? How has it all turned out for you and your little ones?

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Patience Salgado

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. kimmy on said:

    Yes it is a big,important question that each parent should struggle with. It is a discussion worth having and I think we can do it without diminishing one path over another. The ultimate question is: what will be the best way for you to shine and polish that gem of genius inside your child? It may be a different answer for each child. Not convenient, but very possible. I have known families that had one in private, one in public and one at home.

    We chose to homeschool our children and have never looked back. And seriously, I was not voted “Most Likely to Have Kids” so, I am as surprised to find myself a homeschooling mama as my family is. It has its challenges just like any choice. For instance, folks are constantly “requiring” us to defend our choice (as if it is a direct afront to their own choice…which it is not). We struggle with work schedules and finances (who doesn’t) and we tolerate, as well as we can, other peoples’ stereotypes and assumptions of what a homeschooler is like (ie: weird, antisocial, Christian, etc). Occasionally, personal time is hard to come by but we’ve managed.

    The actual teaching and learning part is not that hard. Kids actually like to learn and do it effortlessly if given the right environment. Of course, 2 -4 kids is one thing, a room of thirty is another.

    I support any parent’s right to choose the way they educate their child. It is OUR job to make that choice from an informed and loving place. It would be foolish to think their is only one or two right paths. I believe their are as many paths to educating a person as there are people and for some, public school will work. For some it will not. I know plenty of people who came out “weird” or worse in public school.

    Private school worked for my best friend. She received a much better education than I did in “good” public school where I was a great student but was harassed, bullied and sexually assaulted. Charter schools can be a way for us to get out of the box and try new paths. Some will succeed, some will not.

    Homeschooling , for us, gives us freedom and an opportunity to form a very tight family bond. It also puts us a in a space to be part of the learning process, to tweak that process, or find new processes. We often go out into the community for sources. We rarely sit inside at the table “doing school.” We travel. We volunteer. We spend a lot of time under the sky. We read for hours, make music, build things. We participate in learning cooperatives and we even do long division. We do the things that will prepare our children for living in the world today.

    I have a favor to ask. The next time you hear about or meet a homeschooler, please remember that our choice does not mean that we think you are wrong for making a different choice and that we are not weird, antisocial freaks. True, homeschool kids do have a hard time “Lining Up in Lines” but all in all they are a great bunch of normal kids who happen to learn without school, that’s all:)

    Good luck with your struggles! Struggles like this mean that change is afoot. Many parents and teachers are dissatisfied with present day education methods. It is time to look forward to methods that work and new ideas! I salute everyone who takes the time to really think about this issue!

  2. Kimmy–What a thoughtful response. I don’t have kids, so this is not something I’m close to considering, but I work in education, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks.

  3. kimmy on said:

    Thanks Holly. We have an 11 year old son and a 6 year old daughter . Over the years, I’ve developed my educational philosophy through reading and research.

    I also woke up extra early this morning, so I had quiet time and appropriate caffeination whilst responding ;)

  4. Education has been the hardest parenting aspect for us so far. What I want for my kids and what they need is always changing and evolving.
    We had our kids in private school but their needs were not being met and it created issues for all. We pulled them out and LOVE our switch to our local public school. The Faculty and Staff at Short Pump Elementary School (SPES) have been great and my kids made the switch easily.
    But it was because of the great things we heard about SPES that we bought a house where we did. I “settled” on my house and where I wanted to live for the school(s).

    But, ultimately, I believe it is our job as parents to educate our kids. I don’t send my kids to school to get 100% of the education they need. Learning is not just from 8am-2pm. It’s every moment. And I want my kids to grow-up knowing that each day is the opportunity to learn something new.

    In reality I am not committed to any system completely. There is a lot of variety when it comes to private schools, public schools and homeschooling. I am open to change and will make adjustments as I see necessary. At this point, with 5 kids, other private schools are cost prohibitive and I would rather spend my money on travel experiences. And hopefully help out with college!

    These are my kids and I have the obligation to provide for them. People can share their thoughts and ideas but when all is said and done we as parents are the ones that need to be able to stand by our choices as our kids get older and we face the good and the bad that kids deal with while growing-up.

  5. Kimmy, thanks so much for your comment (and for making not feel like a loon for getting so worked up about this).

  6. It is a hard hard path. At every crossroad there will be sleeplessness! I liked the philosophy our pediatrician suggested. Send them to public or private AND home school. Wow. Who says that school is the only place your children will learn?

    I think the elementary school options in Richmond are pretty broad. Don’t forget about the less-talked-about options of Holton and Fisher. We’ve been at Fisher for Pre-K and K. The school is really great and has a warm familial feel to it. It is more diverse than either mumford or fox.

    We have our daughter enrolled for Patrick Henry charter and while as a new school, it is a bit of the unknown, I believe that with a new staff and new approaches that it will be a great experience.

    For middle school, one approach is to work really hard in elementary school and try for the IB program. I’ve also heard Albert Hill is good, although there are few out-of-zone spots. If you can get into honors/IB there are the governor’s school and Open High.

    But even the best laid plans may be upturned by your dearest, darling child. You could pick a great private or public school and have to reevaluate your choice at some point. I think it’s a matter of being as intuned to your child’s needs as to picking the right school and making changes when necessary. you are not locked into any choice that is not successful. Not all children will thrive in the same environment.

  7. Tiffanie on said:

    This column may have had an adverse effect on me — worrying about schools wasn’t on my radar yet (my daughter is 2), but now it’s looming on the horizon, right next to potty-training and whether or not she’s getting the right nutrition. Oh boy.

  8. Kathy on said:

    All great responses. We don’t live in the city. We used to, but we moved out to the ‘burbs because we knew eventually we’d have kids and that we could never afford private school for the 2 children we planned to have. If money had not been an option I would still live in the city (in the Mary Munford district where we lived) and gone the private school route for middle and high school. Yes, it’s a bit hyprocritical, but that’s the way it is. We now live in one of the “better” county school districts. I honestly don’t worry too much about diversity. My children will have their entire lifetimes to experience diversity, working and living w/ people of different races, cultures and backgrounds. I don’t feel like they are going to be unable to function in society if they go to grade school with people from similar backgrounds. Like the above poster said, learning is not just from 8-2. All parents obsess over educating their kids, but in the end they’ll turn out fine, even if they don’t get into an Ivy League school.

  9. lindsey on said:

    I agree that this is a really important decision and I do not have kids so I cannot judge or help very much. What I can say is that some of the best teachers and the most invested teachers I have ever met teach in schools in Richmond City at tough schools. Your child can still get an exceptional education at a school with exceptional need.

    That said, these schools do have problems with bad attitudes, arguing and sometimes physical fighting. But you can make all the difference when it comes to those things just by volunteering heavily in and out of the classroom and making friends with other parents and encouraging the same from them. As a future teacher in likely an urban and more impoverished setting, i have seen parents turn a group of kids around with their support!

    The diversity aspect however is so interesting to me. In order to create the diversity, upper middle class families would have to actually send their kids to these predominately lower and lower middle class schools in order to ever create any diversity in them!
    But it is really important not to make an example out of your kid at the same time, so I understand why the decision is so tough.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is, I totally can’t help you, except to say that I hope the parents of whatever kids at whatever school I end up teaching in have a little faith in me to do right by their kid. Valerie you know after teaching in public schools that all the responsibility does not fall on the teacher. We can teach our butts off up here but if no one helps with homework at home or reinforces concepts then we could wave our arms around all day and kids would still not succeed. I know that you will be at home working hard to make the partnership between parent and child a positive one, so J.R. will do great wherever he ends up!

  10. Gianna on said:

    I have been debating this recently as well. Had I lived in Richmond still, I would have rented just to be sure my child went someplace like Fox. Living in Lynchburg, I hear horror stories of the public school system and, though I am not 100% settled on this, I am leaning towards private for k-8 then public high school. I figure if my son builds a strong understanding of how great an education is and is offered a broad spectrum of opportunities, by the time he is in high school, he can give me his opinion on where he sees his schooling going and we can discuss what is best for him at that point. I know that 50% of an education comes from a school type setting, but as parents we have to be proactive as well in our children’s learning.

    My child will likely have a learning disability due to a defect in a ventricle in his brain, so in 2011 I will enroll him in a Montessori school. I want to be as active as I can in giving him other choices as how to learn besides to read and regurgitate information.

    I think everything we do as a parent is trial and error. We find what works best for our situation and what is best for our child. There is no right or wrong when it comes the setting a child is learning in, as long as they are learning and thriving.

  11. I teach at Wilder Middle in Henrico county.

    I don’t have any really deep insight, as our kid isn’t even out of the womb yet.

    All I can do is give an eye-witness account.
    Wilder is bad, I’d never recommend it to anyone who cares about their kids. The teachers are amazing and the facilities are nice, but there are fundamental flaws in the administrative and disciplinary structure that pretty much ruins the overall potency of the work done here.
    The kids rule the school, and not in a good way.

    I’ve seen lots (I mean LOTS) of well-behaved, adjusted, and intelligent 6th graders literally turn into criminals in this environment. My advice would be that if you have apprehensions about the school you’ve chosen (specifically beyond 5th grade) and you feel your fears coming to fruition during the child’s experience, pull them OUT! The threat of negative peer influence is real, don’t underestimate it, especially at the middle school level.

    The occasional kid will keep his/her head down and achieve anyway, but I’ve seen enough kids take a seriously negative turn that I think this warning is warranted.

  12. Hoo, boy. This is one of those topics that can make my brain go into tailspins. SO many levels upon which to obsess. It’s not just education. Honestly, the whole what-are-they-learning-and-when part is the LEAST of my worries!

    My biggest concern is this: what’s the environment in which my kids will be spending the majority of their waking hours? Who are the adults, how do they relate to kids, what tone do they set? Are the kids cooped up all day or do they get to move their bodies? Is there an awareness of the nourishment of the whole child, not just drilling of math facts?

    In my parenting journey thus far I have considered homeschool, private traditional school, private progressive school, charter school, public school, unschooling, you name it. I used to buy into the “change from within” and “support the system” mentality. Thing is, I’m not every kid’s parent. I’m my kids’ parent. What I’ve come down to is this: every year I need to look at the child in front of me and the options available and make the best choice I can for that time, with the resources (financial, emotional, time, etc) I have at my disposal right then. It could change year to year, kid to kid.

    So far a super-amazing, nurturing preschool community has been perfect for my kids, and my eldest has a temperament that allows him to thrive in public elementary. My middle son? We’re giving him the gift of another year of preschool and we’ll see where his abilities and needs are in a year. I cringe at the idea of the expense of private school, not to mention the down sides of having kids on different campuses, but I suspect the elementary program into which our preschool feeds (at a Reggio-based, progressive school) or homeschooling may be what he needs and that public school would really not work for him.

  13. Jeb on said:

    When we moved here, we bought where we bought because of the reputation of the school system. Unfortunately, I think that about 10,000 other parents did the same thing. I could swear my wife said that our elementary school (which utterly charmingly is just a few minutes’ walk from our front door) is going to have seven kindergarten classes this fall. But we can’t afford private school and homeschooling would probably send my wife around the bend. The best thing we can do is equip our kids with the life skills and understanding to deal with a little of everything.

  14. Wolf on said:

    I don’t have kids. But, isn’t home-schooling more expensive (in a sense), because one parent probably can’t work at all? Unless private school costs more than that parent’s income, that is.

    My experience is that private school kids end up super snobby and not any better educated than (suburban) public school-educated kids. Of course, that’s a generalization. Of course, I consider understanding people who aren’t wealthy and white part of “education.”

    Lastly, high school in Richmond generally sucks. A lot. Not only will you get a worse education, but you might be, you know, killed.

    I like the idea of home schooling if you can get your kid around other kids enough so that they don’t end up being weirdos / mama’s boys.

  15. Gene Harris on said:

    As the father of Valerie Catrow, I can attest to the fact that the public schools that she and her siblings attended were mostly terrific, and the three of them all “turned out fine”. And I myself am a product of public schools, for whatever that’s worth. None of these schools, however, were in Richmond.

    My wife taught in a local private school for about seventeen years, and now teaches in the Hanover County system, in a school that is probably not markedly different from a so-called “typical” Richmond city school and that serves quite a diverse economic population base. The difference between her current school and the private school she previously taught in is HUGE — from the quality and content of the curriculum, to the way the administration treats the teachers, to the level of interest the parents take in their children’s education — the differences can be immense. And the cumulative effect of each negative aspect of a school is a chipping away at the education each child is getting. The more time that’s spent by teachers and administrators dealing with kids that are causing problems — and their parents, who are often enablers or even instigators of the problems — the less time that’s spent on the education of YOUR children. And with public schools, so often things are handled in a “one-size fits all” manner, with no room for individual considerations, for either students or teachers. This is not necessarily the case in private schools; there’s more room for handling certain problems on a case-by-case basis.

    This is not to say there aren’t problems associated with private schools — the insularity, the typical lack of diversity, the sense of elitism (and believe me, that sense is real and palpable to anyone who isn’t part of that circle, e.g., the teachers and spouses of the teachers), the sense of entitlement that some of the kids and their parents have, etc. I applaud anyone (Val and Ross included) who want to support the public school system and commit to it by sending their children there, and sending your child to a Richmond city school doesn’t doom them to a life as a street criminal by any means. But making the best of it will take PLENTY of parental involvement to counteract some of the negative aspects, so if you choose or are forced to choose that route, be prepared, and go in with your eyes open.

  16. gray on said:

    Richmond public schools I would happily have my children attend:

    Elementary – Fisher, Fox, Holton, and Munford. I know well educated, creative, happy families and teachers at all four schools.

    Middle – I.B. at Lucille Brown and Albert Hill. We have found that the art programs in public middle school are far superior and progressive than the ones we experienced in private school. In public the focus is on process, exploration, and discovery -more creative freedom -not just a rush to produce a product for the parents to gush over (similar to our experience with the Richmond Ballet where children learn to dance not just don glittery tutus).

    High school – I.B. and art program at Thomas Jefferson, Open High, Community, and the Governors’ Schools.

    I would choose a good public school over private any day. I would also go with a so so public school over a cheap private school. My children had an opportunity to attend suburban schools and we turned it down. Our eldest begged us to keep her in the city -we’re city people -different culture and way of life.

  17. Am I missing something on said:

    I’ve decided to not respond so much rather than to put together some very telling comments from your posts and responses and add some questions I have. I find it rather interesting that the majority of the readers and writers are likely white and middle class. I’d like to hear more from the people who are attending the Richmond Public Schools.

    So here it is:

    “Someone I just met two days ago would now spend eight hours a day with my kid, seriously limiting my own time with him. We were officially inviting a stranger into the influencing-our-child mix in a major way, and that scared the bejeezus out of me.” – Do you really spend those same eight hours paying constant attention to your child and do you think the teacher will as well? Can you imagine how the other parents might feel about your child influencing their child or how the teacher might feel about having to respond to you and your child? Do you think teachers are superhuman or should be?

    “[Our neighborhood school] isn’t that diverse, so will that be a problem for our kid who will be the minority?” Do you think removing the little bit of diversity you are adding to the school would help or hurt the other children? Don’t you have any knowledge or compassion for the Little Rock 9?

    “Do we try to lottery him into one of the three “good schools” in the city?” Do you know that all Richmond Elementary schools are accredited? What makes those other schools “bad”? Are you certain your child is going to improve the school? Isn’t a lottery referred to as a tax on idiots?

    “Do we attempt to send him to a private school we can’t really afford?” In an era of accountability, why would you want to send your child to a school that’s not required to be accountable? If schools were so awful before No Child Left Behind unveiled how bad they are, can you imagine how terrible those private schools are now since they are still not accountable?

    “Do we homeschool?” Haven’t you been homeschooling since the day your child was born? Have you looked at the results lately? Have you checked your data and used formative and summative assessments to determine your ability to be a successful educator? Would you consider being your own doctor, carpenter, dentist, and lawyer too? Are you one of those people who believe that anyone can teach?

    “I was fully aware these are first world problems” So do you think other people around the world are too poor to be concerned about their children’s education?

    “Should we stay and invest or go to something more solid? He smiled and said he thought we should do right by our kid first, so we did. Turns out later, his own kid went to the same school. The school has been fine — nothing earth-shattering, but good.” Once again, don’t you think you’re a bit arrogant to see yourself and your children as God’s gift to the educational system?

    “My husband and I are products of public school” Don’t you think this is a way of blaming an educational system for your parent’s having sex? If I am only a product of my school system, I would be a pretty sad mess. I was rejected as a defective product from my high school, I earned a GED and now I’m about to finish a PhD… do you think the educational system is giving me that???

    “Look how awesome and socially-aware we are, all living in the city and what not.” And again, don’t you think this kind of elitist, arrogant, self-righteous thinking is a bit much?

    “When it comes down to it, I just want to do what’s best for my kid and what makes the most sense for our family.” Do you think you’re the only one?

    Now that I have finished asking questions, I’ll comment a little. I’m getting a PhD in Educational Leadership. I’ve worked in K-12 for the last eight years in schools that were highly diversified both economically and racially, and schools that were totally homogeneous. I’m a bit worn out on the teacher bashing that parents frequently do because I doubt that any of you are making headlines in your professions either. The majority of us human beings want to be treated well and live well. However, there are plenty of us who are too darn lazy to work hard. Heck, I should be working now but instead I’m hoping to plant some seeds in these barren fields.

    If you think your schools are awful, do you also think avoiding the problem is going to improve it? Apparently that is the mode of most every white parent in Richmond. Or did you fail to notice how this town has white flight still? Maybe it’s because this is the capitol of the old Southern Confederacy, maybe it’s because there IS something in the water of the James which prevents people from crossing it like it were the DMZ between North and South Korea, but even those folks have had tunnels which allowed some to cross the line. Whatever it is, it’s a damn shame Richmonders, both black and white, are still stuck in the race game. What exactly are you protecting your children from and what effectively are you condemning other children to? If Richmond’s schools are so bad, well they are PUBLIC schools and that means YOU have control over them! Don’t like the way the schools are being run? FIRE the people running them!

    I don’t think there is any sort of racial reason the schools in Richmond are run poorly (not that all of the schools or classrooms are being ran poorly) but I do believe you have a lot of incompetent people in any organization and that they should be removed. I know there is a lot of cronyism and nepotism continuing to plague Richmond and there are a lot of bad business practices happening as well. However, a school is always a reflection of its community. If you don’t like that the schools here are typically black and poor and come with the problems of being black and poor, then ask yourself one very important question: what am I going to do to fix the problem?

    I tried very hard to help fix the problems for nearly five years and it became very clear to me that there are some powerful people who would rather bury their heads in the bureaucratic sand than fix the problems. I am moving on to more fertile soil, but I hope one day that Richmond will heal and that the kinds of bullshit conversations that are being started here will be swept under the rug in place of good discussions about how each one of us will help fix the schools in our backyards.

    Everyone has a vote, this is how I cast mine.

  18. Sarah on said:

    How will public schools ever improve if parents who are invested in their child’s education won’t send the kid there? As a teacher in a middle school in Los Angeles (97% poverty rate), I’ve seen the POSITIVE impact that my students from families who are involved in their education can have on the rest of the students who would normally fight, flunk out, etc. The charter schools are taking over out here, and it’s detrimental to those students who might only have a chance to succeed in a public school. We need more positive influences (from kids, parents, and strong teachers) in the public school system.

  19. To Am I Missing Something, just to clarify:

    I didn’t say we are ONLY a product of public schools. But in the context of this discussion, we are the product of public schools.

    As far as the “Look how awesome we are” comment, I was implying that I *didn’t* want to give the impression that we felt that way. That’s not why we live in the city.

    Me saying I want the best for my family doesn’t imply that other people don’t feel the same way.

    I also didn’t say that we had made a decision either way, hence me inviting comments and opinions. So thanks for yours, really.

  20. lindsey on said:

    i agree sarah. and i don’t think this is a “bullshit conversation” even though i agree that rps needs the help and support of the parents to ever become anything different. this is an important conversation and something that comes to mind for every parent. it means that you are a good parent and care about your child and want to make a good decision for your precious baby even at the expense of your community or local school system. that doesn’t make anybody a bad person. it makes you a great concerned parent. i know there will always be people who can’t seem to say anything nice on the internet, and though i politely disagree with folks with no faith in our middle and high schools, i am glad this was a topic for raising richmond. i know when i have kids someday the decision may not be as easy for me as it seems now. thank you rvanews!

  21. Am I missing something – I really wish you would have told us who you are. You are the exact person I would love to have tea with and pick your brain.

    I feel very aware of the many problems with the statements in my part of article even if those were my raw and honest thoughts/ feelings at the time. I could probably respond and clarify but I think I will leave it be. I am just happy this topic brought so many thoughtful responses. Thank you for your contribution.

  22. how exciting is it that Val’s dad commented?! :)

  23. Also, Sarah, thank you so much for your comment. I think it’s important to hear both the good and bad from people who are in the thick of it. The perspective that involved parents can positively influence children in addition to their own is such an important one to keep in mind.

  24. Am I Missing Something – yes, I do think you’re missing something, especially since you made some pretty broad assumptions about the writers of the comments you quoted. Please try reading this thread again with the idea that every writer is a concerned parent who truly wants what is best for his or her children and is also probably concerned for the overall health of his or her community. Also consider that some of the first-world comments were made sarcastically, by a person admitting to herself that she knows her decisions pale in comparison to other decisions faced by parents here and everywhere. They are, nevertheless, the questions she must face right here and right now, and it’s ok for her to place importance on them and struggle with them.

    As for the idea of change from within and staying with the school system in order to improve it – that is a bold experiment to undertake with one’s own child. I fully embraced the idea before having school-aged children myself. When you enter the public school system, with its jumble of goals and demands and overtaxed resources (headed by good people, usually with children’s best interests at heart, but still, every system has its problems, can we agree on that?), it is hard to witness the chipping away at your own child that Mr. Harris mentions. It is especially hard to continue sending your child to that environment if you think you may have other options at your disposal.

    I would also like to point out that the availability of a free, appropriate public education does not REQUIRE that anybody take advantage of this resource. Public education is available (thank goodness!), not mandatory (again, thank goodness!).

    As a mother of several young children, I have had many, many discussions with friends about how to select schooling for your child. Even if you are committed to public education, no two schools are alike and if/when a family decides to move to another part of town or another town entirely, it makes sense to consider school choice as part of their approach to home buying/renting. Every parent I know who has faced this choice has weighed not only their child’s best interests and family convenience, but also the needs of the community at large. The difficulty comes when families and communities have conflicting needs. Discussions like this one are helpful in sorting out how to approach those choices!

  25. another thought from ever-chatty me: NO school is perfect. there will be benefits and sacrifices no matter what you choose. educational, emotional, financial, community, sustainability, etc etc

  26. It’s not something we would be able to do, but I would love, love, love to hear from someone who went the homeschooling route. What lead you to the decision? What is the day-to-day like?

  27. Am I missing something on said:

    I keep trying to put a response together, but it becomes difficult to get all of my thoughts and feelings together in a succinct enough piece that you would want to read it. This is a complex issue. Let me see if I can get a few maxims for you.

    “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Mark Twain

    “Only the brave should teach. Only those who love the young should teach. Teaching is a vocation. It is as sacred as priesthood; as innate a desire, as inescapable as the genius which compels a great artist. If he has not the concern for humanity, the love of living creatures, the vision of the priest and the artist, he must not teach.” ~Pearl S. Buck

    Einstein never finished school but he spent the rest of his life trying to close the Pandora’s box he and Oppenheimer opened. – My personal observation.

    Classism is now replacing racism as the biggest social problem our society must face; racism is never reverse it’s just racism.

    You must hire the right person for the job, you don’t call a shoemaker to repair your heart when you need a doctor. Thus, why would you expect that you are the most effective teacher when you have had no formal experience in doing such a thing? – A paraphrasing of Socratic logic ala The Republic

    After all is said and done, more is said than done. – Aesop

    Hell is paved with good intentions. – Samuel Johnson

    In brief: Face your problem Richmond. Fix your schools. The road is hard and the path often hidden, but nothing comes of talking around it, so Catrows, let’s start a new thread: What we can do to fix Richmond Public Schools so that anyone would want their children to go there.

  28. Christine on said:

    While I completely agree with Sarah’s comments from an educator’s viewpoint, it is difficult for me to condemn anyone who chooses what they see as best for their children.

    First, growing up as a one of the children who were “resourced” in public schools, I don’t know that I would want my children used to benefit their classmates. My elementary and middle school teachers were told to put the good kids next to the problem students and while I’m sure this helped some of my classmates, I spent my days teaching my emotionally-stunted classmates instead of learning anything. I was repeatedly poked with pins and later urinated on by two of these girls who were supposed to be benefiting from my good example (these examples both happened in the fourth grade but there were plenty more).

    Second, I would fear that putting my child in a Richmond public school might make him or her grow up too quickly. We are allowed to be naive for so few years and I rarely hear someone who regrets their idyllic childhood. I worked in an expressive writing program at Henderson middle school a few years ago. The students were all allowed to write for twenty or thirty minutes about their experiences with violence. Every week a different student had a story to tell about seeing someone stabbed or shot. While it’s important for children to be exposed to the world at some point, I’m not sure if I would want my children to have to grow up so quickly.

    It should be noted that I have no children, and don’t plan to have any. I just don’t want to have to make these decisions!

  29. Of all the parenting things I worry about, school ranks fairly low on the list (thus far). I’m a product of homeschooling (most of elementary, all of middle), and Henrico Public Schools for high school. Exposure to homeschooling has made me open to all kinds of non-traditional options, and I think it will come down to a game-time evaluation of my child’s needs, our financial situation at the time, what the public school situation is, and what the available alternatives are (Which seem to change every year BTW).

    Here’s another argument for ya ;) If I had a high-schooler right now, I think I would avoid sending him to the top suburban public high school. The flip side of school systems is that the really top notch ones are at risk of falling victim to toxic competitiveness. There is more to life than high school achievement!

  30. Scott Burger on said:

    Its great to see parents considering City public schools again.

    But please recognize what’s at stake and the City’s priorities- when City Council give subsidies, loans, and outright give-aways to developers and projects, that’s money that could be going to improve your neighborhood school system instead.

    Virginia has the oldest school buildings in the country, and Richmond has many of the oldest in the state. Just about all of them need some form of renovation. Many of them are still technically illegal under federal ADA law.

    Council likes to blame the School Board for the state of things, and while its true there is plenty of blame to go around, Council is in the best position to really change things. And remember, money is not everything- attention matters also.

    This is why it is particularly galling to see the Times Disgrace and City Council to keep up the charade in favor of so many downtown development schemes that will not ever make a return on their investment- Center Stage, the ‘Greater RIchmond’ Convention Center, the push for a new Coliseum, etc.

    Isn’t it time that parents demand investment and attention in City public schools, particularly its buildings? If you are investing in the City by putting your child into its school system, you also have a right to demand that the City invest more in school renovation.


  31. I think that’s a great conversation to have, Am I missing something. So let’s talk about it:

    What we can do to fix Richmond Public Schools so that anyone would want their children to go there?

  32. I have no real thoughts or opinions that I will be sharing on this subject. I am only leaving this comment to say this: I read a blog written by a women who home schools her children. Mostly her blog is about crafty things and how to make them, but lately she’s discussed home schooling her kids. She also has the kids enrolled in some sort of school/co-op for home schooled kids which sounds like it would be the answer to making sure your kid is socialized.

    Here is a link to her posts regarding home schooling. http://treyandlucy.blogspot.com/search?q=home+school

    She seems like someone that would have a conversation about it, if you asked her nicely.

    Oh and one more thing. I am friends with a woman who was home schooled. She’s not weird or whatever home schooled kids are supposed to be. In fact, I think she has her life together a little better than most.

  33. gray on said:

    From our family’s experience in schools both public and private -the key ingredient is outstanding leadership, i.e., a great principal. What follows is neighborhood involvement leading to families enrolling their children into the neighborhood school. Holton is an excellent roll model to follow.

  34. Vocation, vocation, vocation.

    Obviously safety seems to be the main issue for people looking to send their kids to inner-city schools.

    From working in a high-risk, frequently violent facility I’ve learned that most children who perpetrate criminal acts simply don’t want to be here. In days of yore, you’d just toss them into a caste system and to the fields they’d go. Obviously we’ve evolved past this (though I agree classicism is the new racism), but the tenants of “vocation over academia” can still have merit.

    I mean, you MAKE a kid read Catcher In The Rye, he’s not going to read it. He’s just going to lose the book, flunk the test, and bother some other kid in his class. However, figure out what piques his interest, then send him to a school equipped with circuit boards, a garage, and/or a barber’s chair and you have an excellent electrician, or mechanic, or barber who’s never read Catcher In The Rye. WIN!

  35. Wow, thanks so, so much Valerie and Patience for starting this conversation. I don’t have plans for kids yet, but my boyfriend has been pushing buying a bigger house (sigh) in my neighborhood (Stratford Hills) if we end up together, and his family is stressing out about the school question.

    I do feel I could supplement a mediocre school with support at home, but I’m a lot more swayed when I hear that attending Huguenot High School would put a kid at risk of physical harm. I don’t know what I would do – I have zero desire to live in Short Pump, even though I think Deep Run is about as good as it gets.

    What a valuable forum RVA News is! Thanks for the service you provide to everyone who’s investing in Richmond.

  36. Taking a deep breath and plunging in here…

    I’m a former educator who has taught in Hanover County and Henrico, and also spent several years as an SOL remediator, an educational consultant and educational director in both counties; I’ve observed in or dealt with just about every school in the region, public and private, city or county, with the exception of Chesterfield. I’m also a product of 12 years of fancy private school education (though not a local one), so I feel l like I have a pretty good basis to comment here. I’m also about to become a parent, and the one thing I’m most concerned about is the schooling choices we’ll have to make in the future.

    Education is an important personal choice for families, not a political one. I don’t think it’s fair to expect parents to make decisions about their child’s educational future in order to serve the greater good of the community, but it’s also true that so-called problem schools will only be able to improve if they have community support. It’s a tricky conundrum.

    But honestly, when it comes down to choosing the abstract “greater good” over the concrete “I want my child to succeed” there’s really no debate for us – the kid comes first. If that makes us some sort of first-world elitists, so be it. I do know that another big factor for us is some sort of diversity in a school. I spent 12 years of private school and 4 years of college surrounded by nothing but white, affluent kids who looked just like me, and that’s something I’d like to avoid if it’s possible.

    We don’t yet know whether or not we’d go the route of public or private schools, but a huge factor in our choice is the SOLs. I personally feel they are complete bullshit and that NCLB is slowly eroding the foundation of our public school system. Strong wording, but education to me has absolutely nothing to do with focusing on minimum competency tests. The flip side of this is the obvious need for some kind standards, but the ones we have aren’t what’s needed – they aren’t serving our children. I’ve seen first-hand what happens to schools that become driven by the need to meet a certain passing score or a certain ranking, and it’s not pretty.

    Some of the worst school environments (public and private) I’ve been in have be the so-called “good” ones, where competition and privilege have produced a warped group of kids with the wrong priorities, kids I wouldn’t want my child to emulate. Likewise, some of the best environments I’ve seen are in schools you would not necessarily expect. This is why I always suggest that people do as much research as possible when choosing a school – visit, interview, observe.

    As far as homeschooling goes, the most successful students are ones who have parents who either are truly equipped to teach or who know their limitations and seek out other options (homeschool co-ops, etc.)

    This is a fascinating conversation and it’s why I love you, RVANews.

  37. Also, Matt, you are so ridiculously right. Vocations are completely overlooked, and there were so many kids in my English classes who would have been better served learning a trade, because that was where their talents are. So what if the Great Gatsby isn’t their jam? So what if the college track doesn’t work for them.

    College isn’t better than a vocation, it’s just different.

  38. Matt,
    ” In days of yore, you’d just toss them into a caste system and to the fields they’d go.”

    Having worked with school systems for underprivelaged children and orphans in India, I find this a bit offensive. No disrespect to you, but the caste situation is much more complex and problematic, and though things have certainly come a long way it is definitely still an issue. I will say that people in such situations often take it upon themselves to educate themselves, and there are several schools throughout India (and all over the world really) which have been established by individuals in rural areas to educate those who cannot afford it, because these people know that through education they can change their future in a very tangible way. Being able to carry on a conversation with an eight year old child in Telugu, Hindi, and English with little difficulty makes me wonder why I could hardly speak my own language at that age, and why we often seem to overlook real education in favor of resources.

  39. I would like to quick reach out to our homeschool friends and offer a sincere apology. My word choice was reckless and very off the cuff.

    After reading these responses I realized I am pushing up against my own ignorance and fear as we are delicately exploring the very option ourselves.

    While I do still hold lots of apprehension, I appreciate your thoughtful responses and insight.


  40. Alison, if you feel like sharing, what lead your parents to switch to homeschooling? When I was teaching, my only homeschooling experience involved kids moving into public school out of the homeschool setting (usually because a work situation required the change).

  41. Sarah on said:

    I completely agree with Matt’s response. I find these standardized tests completely ridiculous and the assumption that every student is college-bound is absurd. The world NEEDS electricians, mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, etc. The middle school where I teach has NO electives for the students because they have to take extra reading and math classes thanks to the obsession over test scores. These children are never going to discover what they might be talented in that doesn’t involved the four core subject areas. And the lack of any sort of creative outlet has, in my opinion, a negative impact on their overall education. It is so frustrating!

  42. Taylor:

    I sincerely apologize.
    As a religious studies major and individual seriously interested in Hindu culture and the study of Vedic tradition I should have chosen my words more wisely. It just seemed like the shortest way to encompass the idea of barbaric social structure and I didn’t take into account that this karmic belief structure is still used to oppress people the world over.

  43. *religious studies minor. sorry guys

  44. Matt,
    No worries. It is a very complex issue, and is so different in so many different parts of the country. I am sure it made perfect sense when it was first developed (pre-billion + population), but after it was appended to Vedic traditions it evolved into what it has become today. There have been huge improvements in the country though, and particularly in the south where I was. In fact the education system in the southern state of Kerala is boasted as the best in the nation, and they actually have a near 95% literacy rate, above the national average of 65%. Economically it has historically been behind many other states (there is much money coming from family working in Gulf states now though), but there has always been a massive importance held in education, which can be seen all throughout the state. I think it is that drive that I see a lack of in American Public Schools, but it is most definitely possible to instill that discipline into anyone. It just needs to be done on all levels, which should really include the home.

  45. RMB on said:

    AmImissingSomething…two quick questions…which are purely out of curiosity and not meant to sound affrontive or mal-intended (tone really is hard to peg in these forums): 1. Do you have children? 2. What made you leave Richmond for “more fertile ground” and not stick it out and work on the questions you posed?

  46. Homeschooling mom stepping in….

    Ok so I totally don’t think Patience meant anything mean or hurtful. Let’s face it we assume anything other than the “norm” must be weird. It is human nature and I also, once upon a time believed the same stereotypes, especially before I had my own children. Those stereotypes are what originally pushed us towards putting our children in traditional educational setting. Within the first years we knew that a traditional school setting was not giving our children what we longed for. A desire to learn.

    Those who have never met a “normal” homeschooler…well seriously do you walk around asking every adult you meet where they went to school as a child? Doubtful….if they are “normal” why would you ever think to as something like that? Being a past homeschooler isn’t something you wear around as your identity. It is simply how you were educated once upon a time.

    We are not a church going family…I wouldn’t say not religious but we just have never found a church in the area we like. So our reasons are not religious based. The stereotype I believed was one that you can only homeschool if you are indeed a very conservative christian.
    I soon found out that I was very wrong on just about every stereotype I have ever had.

    The Richmond area has to have one of the LARGEST homeschooling communities I have ever heard of. My children get together just about everyday with other children in our homeschooling group. The children in this group seldom ever fight or bully each other, are very comfortable with all ages (including adults) and the families are so close it is amazing to watch, they have sleepovers, play video games and do all the “normal” things. If the image you have in your head of a homeschool child is the weird child hidden from the world around them you are for the most part wrong. Their are those children who are hidden away from the real world to protect their parents ideologies and ideas but you will never see those families because..well ya they are only going to mingle with other like minded folks. The majority of us are out in the real world everyday with our children doing hands on work and really taking the time to form well rounded children.

    The joke among homeschooling mom’s is they sure do wish their child weren’t so darn “un-socialized” cause their socializing calendar is crammed full. Just about every homeschooling family I know is involved with co-ops, playgroups, field trips you name it they are doing it.

    Old stereotypes are just that…stereotypes. Anyone who would like to find out more about Richmond and homeschooling can simply google homeschooling Richmond and they will find tons of resources. We are now getting ready for the annual HEAV convention ( http://www.heav.org/ ) which is MASSIVE and while religious based it is a great resource for learning more about homeschooling. You will see all kinds of people at this convention from every walk of life and spectrum. And you can ask anyone you see there and they are more than happy to help you figure it all out.

    Final note. Homeschooling is NOT for everyone. I never think badly of my friends who send their kids to traditional! This is indeed work and you do find yourself teaching all day everyday because learning doesn’t just happen between 8-3pm. Many of us still hold down full time jobs outside of the home just not normal hours. It can be done. There is ALOT of sacrifice that goes into homeschooling on the parents part but at the end of the day good parenting involves sacrificing from the day they are born. I came from a teaching background so teaching 2 children is farrrrrrr easier than a class of 25 for me. I know my own child’s interests and abilities. Their limits and their goals. I know what they need when they need it and I am very in tune with who they are as people. Not saying you can’t know all of these things with traditional school…just saying it would be much harder to keep that relationship on this level if I am sending them away 7-8 hours a day and only spend 3-4 waking hours with them.
    For us…homeschooling “fits”.

    When they were in traditional school they would come home and we would spend 1-2 hours on homework every night. Now we spend 3-4 on book homeschooling each day so not a very huge time difference in the grand scheme of things. We then spend the rest of the day out in the world doing all the various things listed above. Not every parent is going to be good at this or enjoy it. In the state of Va my children have to take a test each year to prove they are progressing and so far they score each year in the 90’s so we must be doing something right.

    As far as “weird” goes…well let’s face it “weird” people do tend to have more fun in life! Being able to step out of normal and think outside of the box has some extreme benefits in life…it truly does :-) My life is a very good example…as we sit at the beach in the middle of a…gasp…school week!

  47. charbatkin on said:

    AmIMissingSomething (AIMS) is a perfect example of why I don’t want my kids in the public schools. I don’t want my child seen simply as a means to AIMS’s idealistic ends. AIMS has demonstrated no comprehension of or compassion for the needs of individual families, and is simply looking at the issue from a system-level and PhD-theoretical perspective. That’s not someone I wish to entrust with my kid.

    It is the responsibility of the institution to provide a worthy product. To blame parents who chose not to subject their child to an inferior and possibly even dangerous school relieves the system not only of blame, but of accountability. SOLs are not true accountability — people fleeing the school system is. We should focus on allowing those who care (regardless of socio-economic standing), to seek something better.

  48. Kathy on said:

    After reading Tisha’s post, I wish I could be a stay at home mom so I could home-school.

  49. Gene Harris on said:

    Am I missing something quoted a previous comment —
    “Do we attempt to send him to a private school we can’t really afford?”
    — and responded, “In an era of accountability, why would you want to send your child to a school that’s not required to be accountable? If schools were so awful before No Child Left Behind unveiled how bad they are, can you imagine how terrible those private schools are now since they are still not accountable?”

    My only response to that (and I’m not particularly advocating private schools, just stating facts as I know them) is that private schools are accredited periodically by some pretty rigorous standards, or they lose accreditation and reap the results. So, no, they don’t have SOLs, but they have the equivalent or better. Also, at least one of those “terrible” and “unaccountable’ private schools in this area has a 100% acceptance rate at the University of Virginia. Yep, that’s pretty terrible.

  50. David L on said:

    i was homeschooled from the start through 9th grade. i’m the oldest child in my family. my mom taught me to read when i was 4 and decided to keep teaching after that. there wasn’t a religious or school-quality reason that prompted the choice.

    Starting with the 5th grade i was given my textbooks and a schedule at the beginning of the school year and it was my responsibility to stay current and pass exams. I credit this for preparing me for college learning.

    10th-12th: my parents sent me full-time to a private school to pick up advanced courses (math & science) that they felt a school could better teach.

    The “socialization” stereotype is simply an uninformed generalization. Are there “unsocialized” or really awkward kids in homeschooling? yes. in schools? yes.

    I agree with kimmy, i certainly don’t judge either school choice (homeschool, private, public, etc). there is no single best option that will apply to 100% of all students.

    homeschooling allowed me to learn at a very fast pace, prepared me for the future, and at the same time spend some of the best years of my life with my family and friends.

  51. Julie on said:

    I’m a parent, and I didn’t have much of a choice, my line of work prevents me from being available to homeschool, and I can’t afford private schools. There is a lot I could say, about how I expected to be at war with the schools from day one, and how we have indeed had our little battles. In an elementary school in Iowa, my son (a whopping 2 weeks into kindergarten) didn’t like to stop what he was doing to get in line. When forced to come to an abrupt halt on a favorite project, he would yell at teachers, even having a meltdown under a table one day. Their answer to this was to say he might have Autism and should definitely start going to Special Education classes immediately…after all, the sooner we start dealing with this the sooner we can get federal funding…oops! I mean help your child! (Found out later this school was pushing students into Special Ed & Speech Therapy for funding reasons.) Of course I refused, and now my son is happy, mastering the viola and getting excellent grades at age 11. We now live in Washington State, and the schools here are more progressive, though we still have occasional issues. The biggest problem I see with the public school system in general, everywhere, is that it is such a massive institution, such a mill, so focused on funding and not on celebrating the interests, development, and achievements of students. Each of these kids is a rare and amazing creature, full of potential. But there are so many. And sorry to say this, but some teachers got what it takes, and some don’t. Too many don’t. I would love to live in a nation where the schools are given more funding prioritization and community support, where the teachers are not only more accountable but the ones worth keeping are PAID WHAT THEY’RE WORTH, and have job security! I think that the kids and parents should have to write up anonymous reviews of each teacher, each year. Then the teachers’ raises and job stability can be based at least in part, on that.

    On another note I wanted to also say, my brother who grew up in Fredericksburg, our parents are not religous but he started going to church with Grandma at a young age and really embraced religion. He’s a very cool, easygoing cat, very openminded. He goes on mission trips these days to Guatemala and builds houses for the poor. Things like that. He likes to write poetry and play his guitar…he’s not obnoxious or insistent about faith, or an uptight goody-goody. Well anyhow, he got tired in highschool of being treated like a freako Jesus nut because he was involved with his church. So he begged our parents to send him to a private Christian school. He also went off the Ritalin that was pushed on him at a young age, worked through his ADHD and did well on the force of his own willpower at age 13, and is now getting ready to graduate from college…

    My point is that different considerations must be made for different kids, and as others have said public schools are acceptable but you’ve got to be prepared to also be a force for teaching your kids outside the school. Don’t expect public school to fill the needs of a well rounded, intelligent child all by itself. I doubt if our writer-parents would ever be the types to come home tired, plunk the kids in front of the tube, and ignore them, expecting the school to totally take over their development & guidance. But too many parents do, and that is a huge contributing factor to the problem cycles that create “bad” public schools full of “bad” kids and jaded, overworked teachers.

    As for the really inflammatory comments made by AIMS…the whole thing in your first post about how your kid’s not special, do I think he’s God’s gift to the educational system…yeah, actually I do. I think they are all special. I think they are all God’s gift to the “system” the world, the families they were born to. It’s sad that you don’t. I know kids aren’t angels (my 2 ninja sons can be total asses sometimes) but if you are so jaded as to disregard the value of a child to his/her parents, and the sheer potential of what each of them could grow to be…I hope I misread, do you actually teach kids yourself? Wow. Um, when I said that some teachers have it and some don’t…if you don’t even care about kids, and all you care about is testing, the system, and the politics, and your PhD…not sure I’d want you to teach my kids no matter how qualified your paperwork makes you. The best teachers I’ve ever known have one thing in common. THEY CARE.

    If a parent cares enough and has the determination to homeschool, they can seek and find the resources to do a fantastic job of educating their children. I too am college educated, and trust me…just because you went, paid, did the work to get through college, does not mean you retain it all, or are inherently better or wiser than a determined self-educated person. I have no respect for a piece of paper, or the institution that issued it. What I respect is what a person takes away from the learning process and what they do with it. I have done research on medical situations and learned more than my doctor knew at the time. Because it mattered to me, and I cared. With the connections and resources available through the internet, anyone can become a quality educator of their own kids if they are determined enough. So stop trying to belittle the parents here, and their kids. You are very intellectual and I appreciate an intelligent viewpoint as much as the next person, but quit with the condescending attitude. Really. Some of the “qualified” and “accountable” public school teachers I’ve had in my past, and my kids have had, have been horrible. And one size will never fit every kid.

    Super long ramble…sorry about that…this topic inspires parental passion!!

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