These days, more than eight million children are learning in environments that are free from state control. Tired of homogenized educational systems that produce poor academic performance and low expectations – not to mention the schools themselves, with their violence, physical and emotional bullying, and drug and alcohol problems – parents are increasingly looking into alternate places to send their kids; or else they’re taking personal responsibility for their education.
Most people are in agreement these days that public schools in America are suffering, and are not promoting the growth and development of kids. However, there are differences of opinion concerning the root causes of these problems. Unions claim that schools don’t perform well because they lack the funding that they need. Faculties at the schools sometimes point their fingers at the parents and claim that they should be more involved. Social reformers are wont to say that poverty is to blame. Poor teacher training is another reason often cited.
And yet…many private schools and home schools have managed to overcome their hurdles with even less money and teacher training, not to mention little or no accountability to the state. Perhaps that last factor is significant. A large number of parents around the country have come to believe that compulsory state schooling does little to help children grow to their full potential: that, in fact, it was never meant to. Critics of the system claim that the original philosophy behind compulsory education had more to do with fostering unquestioning obedience, acceptance of authority and deference to government – in short, a herd mentality. The history of early America (which managed to thrive in its first two hundred years with schooling that was independent of government interest, control, and subsidy) does much to support this view.
One of the biggest reasons why parents have grown disenchanted with public schools is that they’re convinced the system is demanding that they give up their rights. Children pass through the doors of a public school and are suddenly beyond our protection and influence. This is a sentiment that the laws in America have sanctioned, as well. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, concluded that when parents place their children in a public school they forfeit any rights to determine what their children are taught – or how. Indeed, the system can undermine the parent-child relationship by promoting the idea that teachers, not parents, are the true and trusted authorities in every young one’s life.
Today, 27,000 private schools serve some six million students, and another two million or so are home schooled. Many people have criticized the public school system and claimed that it’s no longer working; the parents of these kids are going a step further and doing something about it.