Tuesday, August 17, 2004

homeschool stuff

this is a post i wrote to a homeschool mailing list. my comments later. i wouldn't mind hearing yours, btw. of course i know nobody reads this crap so it doesn't really matter. also, this post occasions a new category.

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[This is long and long-winded. If you want to attack it in sections, or ignore it completely, I'll not be offended. Thanks for your energy!]

So here I am. I'll let you take a guess at my name (since it's on the top of my email). I, my wife, and our three children live at the very southern tip of Fort Worth, in the Crowley ISD. We're close enough to Burleson to be really frightened of it. :)

We have a 2 year old son, and a pair of 1 year old twins, a boy and a girl.

The primary reason I've come is for information-gathering, from real live people near where I live, as opposed to folks in Washington State or New York.

Some background on the source of my interest: My wife was a military brat who spent her life in public school. While I love her to death, the level of her education shows.

By contrast, I went to a (tiny) private school in Fort Worth. Actually tiny doesn't describe it; I went there for grades 2 through 8, and the core group of kids in my class was six kids. Between 7 and 8 many of them left the school, so that in 8th grade there were two students, me and one other boy; there was nobody in 7th grade that year, one girl in 6th grade, and about six boys in 5th grade.

But in a social circle so small, and coming to school in the middle of the year, I was immediately the odd kid out and stayed that way all through school. And because the social circle was so small I didn't bother making friends or trying to learn how.

I then transferred into a public high school in Fort Worth, and spent four and a half years of complete and utter friendless misery being the funny-looking, not-Christian computer nerd who was editor of the useless student newspaper. My high school was a scary place where I was physically assaulted on a number of occasions, got no protection either from my parents or the administration, and I obviously want none of any of that for my kids.

And while my kids are young, this is something I think it's worth thinking about, so that our family can make an informed choice for our kids, rather than a rush decision or simply accepting the default public education because it's what everybody else in the neighborhood does.

I know that the Crowley ISD is relatively good, and we'll be in the area of the new school scheduled to open, I believe for 05-06. And while my wife, a former high school teacher herself, is of the qualified opinion that public school is the way to go, I can't say I'd want my kids going to school with the little thugs who live in our neighborhood. Obviously not blessed with the common sense God gave a slug, I won't be letting our kids play with them in the afternoon; I can't rightly see being comfortable sending my kids to school with them in the morning.

I'm also concerned based on my own school experiences and comparing the meanness of school children against the personalities of my kids, especially my oldest. He's very emotionally sensitive and easily frustrated and discouraged. I have to be careful to not laugh at him when he does something childly funny; he takes it as a hurtful insult, even at this age. I can't say I'm comfortable with the idea of subjecting him to the cruel teasings of public school kids that I know will come even in the best of schools. And because our religious pursuasion is decidedly non-Christian, I'm concerned about that as well; when I was in public school I was physically assaulted on several occasions over my religion and I don't think that's an appropriate thing to put my kids through.

Perhaps as important, my older son is somewhat developmentally delayed. While we don't believe there's anything going on that is of long term significance, it's possible that all three of our kids will wind up in the same grade together, and that leads me to question in my mind the wisdom of sending them to public school together, because of the obvious age difference between them (a year and a few months).

All of that assumes that the public education my children would get is actually acceptable, a question I'm entirely unconvinced about. Recent public debates about various portions of public school cirricula in Texas have distressed me considerably.

The other issue is family-based: My wife, formerly of the Joshua public school system herself, will need convincing and she is unsure that we'll be able to actually accomplish the learning discipline necessary to homeschool. I am a full time college student myself, and she works full time and we don't have the income it takes to do stay-at-home-anybody, much as I think that's a Good Thing.

I also find myself interested in evaluating what I can find in terms of secular-based cirricula. As I've indicated, a Chrisitan religious instruction set will not be appropriate for my family. I'd like to take a look at several alternatives in some detail, yet I'm not sure what options are out there, how I might see something beyond what's published on a web page about them. And I also would like some guidence from yall more experienced folks here about what questions to ask and/or consider when making these choices.

Those are the things on my mind. I'm interested in hearing your take on it all.

Thanks most kindly.

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