Thursday, January 03, 2013

Even the Manhattan Smart Set Is Adopting Homeschooling

In the face of rampant school corruption and ineptitude in the NYC system, smarter NYC parents are beginning to see the virtues of homeschooling. Here is a personal account from one such NYC parent:
The city’s public schools are underfunded, overcrowded, and perpetually in turnaround. District boundaries governing enrollment change from one year to the next, as do standards for admission to gifted programs and “citywide” schools, accept­ance to which is determined by children’s scores on tests whose educational relevance is questionable. Meanwhile, middle-­class parents are priced out of districts midway through their children’s education, as people a few rungs higher up the ladder move to neighborhoods with acclaimed public schools (the West Village, Park Slope) and put the half-million they would have spent on private schools toward the mortgage.

...We had considered our options: Lenora could go back to work in the shrinking field of newspapering, with her salary enabling us to move to a neighborhood with better schools; or she could work full-time on our children’s education, teaching them and organizing classes with other families, while we relied on my income as a book editor and part-time professor. She was eager for us to school our children ourselves, and persuasive about why we should do so. I had been raised on the cult, creed, and dogma of public school, and this felt like leaving the fold. But given our other choices, it was worth a try.

That first year, chatting with other homeschooling parents at soccer games, picnics, and after-church coffee hours, I found that our decision was far from unusual. Homeschooling has long been a philosophical choice for religious traditionalists and off-the-grid homesteaders, but for the parents we met—among them several actors, a jazz composer, a restaurateur, a TV chef, a Columbia University physical-plant supervisor, and a handful of college professors—it was a practical alternative to New York’s notoriously inadequate education system.

...On a normal day in our Brooklyn apartment, I teach math first thing, then go to an office space in a different neighborhood. Lenora picks up from there, teaching American and world history, language arts, geography, and penmanship, depending on the day. She and the boys then set out into the city for science at the Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo, or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; history at the Queens County Farm Museum or the Wyckoff Farmhouse, in Brooklyn; or art at the Metropolitan Museum.

Some of these programs are free. Some are organized cooperatively, with different parents leading sessions on subjects of special interest to them. Others involve weekly classes for a fee. A class at the Center for Architecture Foundation, in Greenwich Village, teaches children the history of a place—­medieval Europe, Federal-era New York—through its architecture. An eight-week course costs about $140, depending on the number of students: not cheap, but not a $100-a-day, five-day-a-week private-school bill (and participating parents sometimes pool their resources to cover tuition for a child whose family can’t quite afford it). One homeschool soccer program is led, on a Hudson River pier, by an ace coach whose schedule is light in the hours before “regular” schools let out. Cost: $5 a week. _Homeschool Diary
Although the NYC schools are probably not yet as corrupt as those in communist China, they are more than bad enough to give a loving and conscientious parent second thoughts about trusting their beloved children to the system.

And school systems in most other US metropolitan systems are not much better -- and many are worse.

Of course, these trendy yuppie homeschoolers would faint dead at the thought of raising their little darlings as Dangerous Children. But in the near future, that may be the only choice that makes any sense, for parents who truly love their children.

As long as dysfunctional leadership and malignant governmental policies control the system, the system cannot self-correct, and heal itself from the inside.

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