We are here to graduate, not to educate!

We moved to a small town so our daughter could be in a friendly place. People here are genuine and personable. This is the low stress life she should experience while she’s young. Maybe she’ll learn to keep the low stress mentality throughout her life.

Of course there’s a problem in our new residence. The public schools won’t take her!

Why you might ask.

Well my wife and I have had very high standards with regards to her education. The local big city schools were not sufficiently rigorous. They were not inspirational, nor were they following the best pedagogical methods known to science and taught to student teachers. In many of the classrooms too much time was spent on busy work. That was work that took the joy out of learning.

What do I know? I was trained as a teacher in California with a credential in Math. I was taught how to teach. Education isn’t students sitting quitely at their desks absorbing information from the teacher. Education is conveying inspiration. It’s demonstrating the importance of learning, regardless of the topic. Convince students that information is important and they will learn. Show them that knowledge is the means of achieving what they want in life, and they will work hard. Inspire them, so that they love to learn and they will truly exceed everyones expectations, especially their own.

Have you guessed already that we chose to homeschool our daughter for most of her life? Well we did. With homeschooling we can achieve the inspiration in education because we love to learn and we can convey that to her. We are not tied to a classroom so we have the flexibility to connect topics to the real world. For example, A bridge is a great place to study math, there are shapes to study, loads to calculate, the swaying of the bridge and the rumbling of the roadway to analyze. And while there, what environmental impact is the bridge having? How does it affect traffic? How does it affect society? Is it a big ugly monstrosity or a work of art? You see, we include many disciplines into the lessons. That’s how the real world often works. The real world reinforces the importance of what’s being learned.

It’s easy for out daughter to absorb information. Learning is more that just facts to her. Her education involves analysis, evaluation, application and synthesis. These are the cognitive skills that you can’t just look up on google but need years of practice to hone. So our daughter excelled. She’s wonderful in math, science, sports, is socially well adjusted and has found a passion in her life, she writes and she does so wonderfully.

She is at eleventh grade level. As difficult as it is to let her go, she should experience diffent teachers. At this age we can’t offer her the expertise that an expert in the field can offer. She should experience the good and the bad of public school. It won’t stifle her love of learning if she experiences a lackluster teacher. It will broaden her understanding of people and education.

For all of her accomplishments, however, she will not be allowed to go to public school. They won’t have her.

My wife and I took her to the local high school in this small town. We brought all of her homework, projects, study guides, and educational accomplishments. This was work that we had been saving for many years. We had organized it and associated it to curricula at the local school, to show that the prerequisites were taken care of so that they could place her in the appropriate classes. They didn’t care to look at it.

“She don’t have any credits. You need 230 credits to graduate.” Both the principal and the counselor repeated this bit of information. “Well she’s done the work and more.” I replied. “We can’t just give her the credits.” objected the counselor.”She’s done the work here it is. She could take a proficiency test to show that the prerequisites are accounted for.” “That’s not the point. The point is that she won’t have enough credits to graduate.” Said the principal. “My concern is that she get a good education.” I said. “Ah” said the principal “we are not here to educate, our mission is the graduate.”

While I tried to find a way to convince them to allow her into the school, I was wasting my time. The the principal, the school and the district were under a perverse incentive. The school system didn’t care about education; ostensibly the mission of a school system. It cared about graduation. That was the mission, so coming in without enough credits, regardless of your aptitude, accomplishments or excellence, means you can’t go. So much for ‘No child left behind.”

The school is graded on the number of students who graduate. That’s a perverse incentive. It means that anyone without enough credits won’t be allowed into the tax payer funded public school.

I’m angry. It’s my kid. It’s also horrendously unfair. While I believe we made the correct educational decisions for her, she wants to go to school now, and she’s being deprived due to our decision. Should a child be punished for the decisions of her parents? Should a tax funded public school be allowed to deny children entry so that they look good on a poorly conceived metric?

Of course I left out the worst part. You see when they denied her entry into the school, they suggested we enroll her into the continuation school, with the discipline cases and the kids who have been failed by the system and moved someplace out of the mainstream. Essentially they were offering for my child to go to a punitive educational facility, that was in a trailer, or as the counselor angrily corrected, “modular classroom”. Way to rub it in.

There is some good left in the world. We found a charter school. I don’t know why they don’t have a perverse incentive, perhaps they do, but when it conflicts with their mission of educating they err on the side of the children. That’s as it should be. After the ordeal with the other school, this place is a breath of fresh air. This is exaclty the environment we were looking for in a small town. Friendly teachers doing the right thing for their students.