19 November 2011

Day Nineteen - The Local Public Schools

The day after my post about being thankful for homeschooling, it might seem odd to say that I am thankful for the local public schools, but I am.

Let me be clear - if I had to raise children all over again, I'd want to do it the same way. I'd want homeschool them until high school. Having children spend every day with very large groups of their peers is not a good thing, in my opinion. I work in the schools and I see the pack mentality, the bullying, and the ostracizing. Plus, there are the kids that are unintentionally ignored in class either because they are smart or because they don't have behavior problems. In other words, the "good" kids are the ones that often aren't getting their needs met.

The teachers, however, are gems. I sub in all the schools in our district, from elementary to high school, and every day I see people who are overworked and underpaid, yet they love these children and have dedicated their lives to them. In so many ways, the teachers' hands are tied. Most forms of discipline are no longer allowed, and countless children come to school without having had any sort of training or discipline at home.

The teachers can only do so much, and the kids know it. Consequently, the loudest and most obnoxious kids get all the attention because they can't be put into a corner, spanked, or even sent home. In fact, usually they are sent off with another teacher or ed tech to have alone time, but most of them see it as a treat, rather than a punishment. After all, they are being singled out, they are getting out of class, and they are getting a special privilege. The "good" kids see it this way too. It's very sad. I've actually seen the good kids act up in hopes that they will get to go for a walk with Mrs. So-and-So.

Yet the teachers keep coming back day after day, year after year, doing what they CAN. They try new things, they persevere, and somehow, miraculously, the kids do learn. Because that is what those teachers are - miracle workers.

Last week I attended the National Honor Society induction ceremony at the high school, and I saw 40 or so students who are the best and the brightest in our town. The vast majority of those kids were brought up right here in our small-town Maine public school system, and now they are successful, smart, and college bound. Much of it is because of those persevering teachers back in the elementary and middle schools.

When I was homeschooling, people marveled and claimed they could never do what I did - that it was just too hard. Even now when I mention that I used to homeschool, most people, even the public school teachers pause and talk about how difficult it must be. But let me tell you, I've seen both sides. Homeschooling is a walk in the park compared to being a teacher in the public schools. They are on the front lines, battling the problems that are plaguing our country right now as a whole - mainly, the lack of discipline and self-absorption - a dangerous combination.

I started subbing with the plan to go back to school to get certified to teach, but this past year has shown me that I simply don't have what it takes. I trained and disciplined my own children in my own home, and they were a delight to teach. They learned and they thrived, and they didn't have to wait for a half a dozen discipline-problem kids to be fixed before we went on with our lessons. In other words, we didn't waste time.

I don't know what the answer is. Not everyone can homeschool, and many folks shouldn't - what a disaster that would be. Yet, something has to be done. Discipline needs to re-enter the schools. Either way, the public school teachers have my full support and I thank God that they are bringing up our nation's future generations.

Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes

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