Educational Spectrum

I like the idea behind SB36 which proposes allowing home school and charter school students to participate in extracurricular activities at public schools with what appear to be some reasonable restrictions. (hat tip – Daily Herald) This bills seems to illustrate one common problem that seems to plague any education debate. We treat education as an either/or proposition. Either we support/participate in public school or private school, or charter school, or homeschool. Instead we should be looking at an educational spectrum where parents have the option to make use of a reasonable cross-section of the various approaches to education based on the needs of their child. I does not have to be a free-for-all, but why should we not allow for home schooled students to integrate to a degree with their public school counterparts in extracurricular activities, drama classes, or auto shop?

Why should public education be a black box where you put your student in and let the teachers, district officials, and legislature define the objectives and methods or else keep your children out of public school and not be allowed to use any of the services that your tax dollars are still paying for. Public education should be a service where parents are allowed to make use of as much or as little of the service as they deem necessary so long as their choices are granular enough to not interfere with the service being provided.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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7 Responses to Educational Spectrum

  1. Reach Upward says:

    Thanks for this interesting information. Three of my children may be attending a charter school for the first time next year. I will be watching to see where this bill goes.

  2. Laura says:

    I agree, and I like your comment about the ‘black box.’ It is hard sometimes as a parent to have so little control over what goes on in the classroom (although, yes, I do volunteer). The PTA is hardly a viable entity in getting much done beyond fund raising and the teachers just have too much to do (bless their hearts). It would be nice if pubic education had a bit more of a ‘buffet’ feel and wasn’t based solely on age to move ahead, but ability. (Yes, I realize this is a little off topic from the original intent of the post, but now I’ve gotten going.) I think the classes should be split up by ability by the specific subjects. So, for example, a child could be in a ‘level 3’ in math, a ‘level 5’ in literature and a ‘level 4’ in science.

    Another really cool thought that some friends shared with us is something that is being done in the state of Washington (elsewhere also?). In the city they came from (name?) there were public schools and then there were also 3 public homeschools. They worked like this, the parents could homeschool and then the areas they wanted ‘public’ education in, they could enroll their child for those classes at the public homeschool. Seems like a wonderful solution to me. The best of both worlds seem obvious in this ability of the parents to control and base the child’s education on the specific needs of the child as well as the family and not just the mass production unit of public needs.

    Those are just a few of my thoughts on public and private education.

  3. David says:

    Even if public schools don’t want to do this cafeteria approach to education the charter school laws should allow for a charter school to operate similar to the schools from Washington that you referenced. All we have to do is get a chartering authority to approve a charter that would operate like that and get enough parents on board in an area to make the school viable.

  4. Lynn says:

    This ‘buffet’ is already possible. I have home-schooled and public schooled with varying combinations of both. The public schools worked with me very well. Several districts even have an online help option for home-schoolers with a great curriculum.

    The option for athletics also already exists. This bill is about eligibility requirements. Presently, students have to show academic eligibility. This bill wants to allow home-schooled children to be eligible because their parents say they are while school students still have to show eligibility based on grades and scores. Two different set of rules.

    What about Charter students? Tell me how you would feel as a parent of a public school student who got cut from a school team in favor of students who don’t even attend your school. Should ‘choice’ require some accountability with it? or should school choice mean–you get anything you want? That has a price tag, both monetary and social.

  5. David says:

    That’s not how I read the text of the bill. It specifies which schools a charter, or online student may participate in extracurricular activities. 53A-1a-519 subsections 3-5 are the heart of the bill. They specify that schools may not impose any extra standards of charter school students that are not imposed on public school participants except that they can charge an additional fee. The charter school students are expected to meet the same eligibility requirements as other students.

    As for your question – if my student were cut from a school team in favor of students who were not eligible or who were just trying to come to the school with the best team (in other words students who would not qualify under this law) I might be upset. On the other hand, if my student is cut in favor of a student who met these requirements then I don’t see why I should be upset. Personally I don’t consider participation in extracurricular activities to be crucial for my children.

  6. It is encouraging to read commentary that supports true choice in educational delivery for parents. As a long term home educator I’ve long advocated that ultimately society needs to establish learning centres accessible to all age groups. Our aim should be to encourage life long learning and to enable people to learn from those most enthusiastic and interested in the subject matter.

    Beverley Paine

  7. David says:

    Thanks for the links and the comments Beverley. I agree that education is a life-long process. As I watch my children grow I am often amazed at how completely they are built to learn. I think we have to be careful not confuse learning with a particular education system. I firmly believe that different education systems are right for different people at different time and parents are best suited (so long as they stay engaged) to make the choices about what is best at any given time for their children.

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