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Common Disadvantages of Public Schools

Compare Homeschooling versus Public School – Private Schools

img38Class Size
State Determined Education – Curriculum (behind the scenes selection)
Non-individualized Mass Education
Private Schools (better, but same basic problems)
Special Needs Children  (gifted, learning disability)

Why are we concerned?

OldSchool1_hu5651-001The current public school atmosphere can be detrimental to many students. Many parents prefer smaller individualized programs for their children, where they can help shape their child’s values and belief systems.



Class size

The benefits of smaller classes are now widely acknowledged. Few education issues have been studied more than the effect of class size on student achievement. But until Tennessee’s longitudinal class-size study — Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) project — results were contradictory and inconclusive.

The STAR project showed that those enrolled in small classes as youngsters were more likely to:

 • Graduate on time — 72 percent of students, versus 66 percent from regular classes and 65 percent from classes with a paraprofessional
• Complete more advanced math and English courses
• Complete high school — 19 percent dropped out, versus 23 percent from regular classes and 26 percent from classes with a paraprofessional
• Graduate with honors.

State Determined Education

Though many people, if not most, probably think public schools are controlled at the local level, this is only partially the case. State constitutions and governments define how each state’s schools are to be organized and run, what subjects are to be taught, what curriculum may be used, and how teachers will be trained and certified.

Certain federal laws add some requirements, and some federally-funded programs also influence what is taught by schools. Besides basic subjects – reading, English, math, science, history – many states also require teaching sex education, drug abuse prevention, “diversity”, and so on. Trendy political “causes” get incorporated into school requirements.

The curriculum screening process, while ostensibly intended for quality control purposes, by reviewing and pre-selecting a few textbooks out of the many available for each subject, has become an out-of-public-view means by which issue-oriented advocacy groups have often gotten their agendas written into the curricular materials mandated for use by a state’s school children. These groups’ focus is their particular agenda, not the task of education.

homeschooleasyThus, much of what a child in school will be required to learn, the way it will be taught, and the pace at which teaching will progress is decided by people that have no familiarity with the child.
The local school’s ability to maintain campus and classroom discipline is compromised by restrictions that society (e.g. federal and state courts, threats of lawsuits from civil liberties groups) imposes on the school. Where once teachers, school administrators, and parents usually worked in cooperation in the education and discipline of their students, now many parents and “rights” groups defend student wrong-doers, setting up an adversarial relationship between parents and schools where discipline is concerned. And should a teacher prove to be incompetent or worse, tenure rules and teachers’ unions make removing a problem teacher from the classroom extremely difficult. Non-individualized Mass EducationIn the classroom the teacher has a class of 20 or 25 children, and textbooks that are supposed to be covered within the school year. Usually, on the first day of the school year, the students are total strangers to the teacher. At this point, the teacher doesn’t know where the students are academically, in what way each student learns most easily, or the students’ interests. The textbooks define what teaching methods will be used, and the pace at which the teacher will teach the subject. The size of the class limits how much flexibility the teacher has to slow the pace of instruction or supplement for students having difficulties, and how much individual instruction time the teacher is able to give such students. At the same time, for students who are quick learners, the teacher lacks the flexibility to cover the subject material more quickly, as this would cause difficulties for less quick learners, and might finish the textbook before the school year is over. It would be impractical for the teacher and for the class to have individual students or groups of students proceeding through the subject material at multiple paces.Though the supposed intent of education is to prepare students for real life, schools segregate students into classrooms by age, not because this bears any resemblance to real life, but solely for the convenience of the school as an institution and the teachers.This artificially limits the environment in which the child learns about interacting with people with different interests and life experiences. Homeschooling and correspondence education has changed.
In a public school, most of a student’s time is spent with children of the same age. The child may find friends with interests similar to the family’s, interests that encourage learning and becoming a good citizen. Likewise, a child may encounter children who decide to bully them or exclude them and make the child’s school life generally miserable. And a child may find friends whose interests will lead the child into antisocial and dangerous behaviors.The public school has very limited ability (and sometimes little will) to protect bullied students or guide students away from bad influences, and have a difficult time enforcing discipline. What is easily forgotten, however, is that a disruptive child or two can bring so much turmoil to a classroom that even an excellent teacher cannot teach, and that students who are eager to learn cannot learn as they desire. Inadequate campus or classroom discipline allowing distractions is not a problem in homeschooling.

Private Schools

At present, private school students are faring much better academically than are their public school counterparts. This reflects several factors.

Parents of private school students tend to be more involved in their children’s education. Private schools have considerable freedom from government interference, have the freedom to focus on teaching the core academic subjects, and select excellent curricular materials without being subjected to pressure from political advocacy groups. Private schools also have much greater freedom to enforce campus and classroom discipline, including receiving greater parental cooperation and participation.

Private schools still retain, however, the limitations that are intrinsic to the classroom method of instruction. Their classes still use a single curriculum that is designed around a single approach to teaching the subject. The teachers still lack flexibility with regard to the pace of class instruction. The size of classes place the same limits on the amount of direct personal instruction each student can receive. And classes remain age-segregated, which, while convenient for the school as an institution and for teachers, is quite unlike real life. At a public school (and sometimes a private school), a child does not need to become a troublemaker to find trouble – too often it comes to the child. All it takes is for a bully to choose that child for their target or for the child to be in the vicinity of a violent person or group at the wrong time. While this obviously is not a problem at all public schools, homeschooling avoids this problem pretty much entirely.

Just as not every public school is excellent, neither is every teacher. Having even one bad year can have unpleasant consequences for a child academically, regardless of whether the problem was with the school or with the teacher. Nor do school districts always cooperate with parents who wish to transfer their child to another, better, teacher’s class or to another, better, school campus. Homeschooling avoids the risks of poor quality schools and teachers, and with unhelpful school administrators.

Special Needs Children

Not all public schools do consistently well in handling children with special needs. Thus, a child with a learning problem that requires some sort of special type of instruction or learning environment may not find the public school amenable or even able to satisfy that need.

Likewise, the parents of a child who is gifted may find the public school unable (sometimes unwilling) to provide advanced instruction to help the child develop their giftedness. While homeschooling a child with special needs presents challenges to the parents, homeschooling enables the ones who know the child best and care the most for the child, the parents, to use their knowledge and love for their child in directly educating their child.

A conflict with a child’s school is never pleasant, especially when the school is unwilling or unable to work with the child’s parents to resolve the conflict. Parents need to know how to recognize whether a problem is resolvable, or whether it will go on being detrimental to their child’s education and growing up process. When the latter is the case, parents urgently need to look around for alternatives to what isn’t working for their child.

Homeschooling is one alternative parents should consider when faced with a non-resolvable, harmful conflict.   Flexible homeschool curriculum and full service homeschooling help and support is available at Bridgeway Homeschool Academy.

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