Why Parents Choose Public Education

Most parents send their children to public school. The National Center for Educational Statistics expected “50.7 million students in public schools” in 2020. “5.7 million students in private schools” for the same period and “1.6 million students in home schools.”1 The CORONA lock-down increased the homeschool numbers by 11%. Nobody says whether these 176,000 students came from the public or private schools. Even in this extreme situation where families use distance learning, most families still choose public distance learning by at least a factor of 10. These parents spent 2020 as glorified teacher’s aides.

Public School
“Spring in Seattle: Montlake Elementary School, Seattle Public Schools”

Most parents did not know what else to do. Their only experience is with public schools. Shutdown came with directions on schooling, so most families followed along. Education is compulsory and public school provides the easiest path. Private school costs too much. Home school brings unfamiliar challenges. Educators  argue that American Public Schools provide the best education on Earth. It is irrelevant that children in public schools do not learn enough, learn the wrong things, or are driven away from natural human curiosity. Public schools set many social expectations successfully. Most private and parochial schools set the same goals, measure with the same tests, and emulate the basic methods of public education, but they have higher expectations. Private schools claim to do a better job with the same material. They do.

Most Parents Want the Certification

Only a few of the most elite institutions focus the curriculum toward traditionally liberal learning. Public schools do not try to offer this in public education. They offer certifiable progress instead. Parents consciously understand the difference between learning and certification. Successful public education offers certification at several levels. A high school diploma, a university degree, and professional certification for doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

Public schools are government funded, that is tax funded. Parents already pay for the public school on the corner. Choosing another path will not lower that expense. The federal, state, and local governments each have a plan for spending money on the child. Every educator understands the goals set for public education. They work to sustain the system. Hundreds of thousands of people go to work every day to provide public education to America’s young. This happens even if the taxpayer chooses not to use public school.

Public School
“Abstract colors”  by  MelisaTG

Parents see value in standards. MacDonald’s may not be the best meal, but it will be the same anywhere. Public education shows regional differences, but educators across the country strive to offer the same high quality. The plan begins with federal guidelines. States mandate particular goals in the curricula. School Boards, the local point-of-presence, plan the program for districts. Districts impose standards on schools that principals and other administrators enforce on the classroom teachers. The teachers arrive in the morning with more than guidelines. The teachers create lesson plans that often reflect specific details of the federal and state mandates. The plan that public schools have for the child contains a detailed social policy implemented so uniformly that a fifth grader can move from California to Colorado with barely a blip in the educational experience.

Parents also recognize the experts in public education. A massive infrastructure of publishers, consultants, educators, and bureaucrats have a vested interest in keeping the child moving down the steps of the plan. Not all, or even most of the plan includes learning anything beyond how to succeed in the system. That is enough. An authority is granted at the end, a certificate, that says specifically what the child has accomplished. This authority is recognized by other schools and employers. They grant access to university, to graduate school, or to a job. Certification is the educational participation trophy.

Parents know that academic milestones matters more than learning. Each milestone means something different. The child can leave after the compulsory years and go to work. A high school diploma opens more doors. A college diploma opens still more doors. A university degree or a graduate degree the golden ring. That is the idea anyway. Modern society is stratified to allow access at various points. The Walmart clerk is different from a surgeon according to the appropriate certifying authority.

A future without poverty
Brush strokes by  mikaera13

Parents also want socialization from the school. Socialization is the behavioral goal for public education policy, so parents are in luck. Fourteen years of attending some institution from K-12 prepares students for every future institutional human interaction. A certified High School Graduate works at McDonald’s, at the Department of Interior, on the new GM factory floor, or in any major corporation from the sales to the loading dock without chafing. Four more years prepares the individual for a mid-level white-collar job, to manage a Quik Mart, to supervise at the DMV, or as corporate operations manager. Two more years will give the student an executive position, or to become an educator, a lawyer, or a large corporate box store manager. A few more for most professions, doctors, professors, and scientists. The longer the socialization, the higher in the system the educated person should land.

Parents understand the implied threat that dropouts go to jail. The institution sells this failure message. Schools will never tell the success stories about dropout entrepreneurs who lead exemplary lives, who go into business and spend the high school and college years earning money. Fear of the loss of certification is the stick.

public school
Construct/on 22 by Bojan Bjelic

Parents usually make the final decision for access to free daycare. Public school is  designed to mirror the standard work day for the parent. This allows single parents and two income families to have child care during working hours. The parent often needs this most of all. Public school is designed to provide it.

The Broken System

For the parents of 50 million kids these benefits outweigh any arguments against public school. Most parents want the certification. Remember? The COVID Year has changed some calculations. The increase in homeschool is a recalculation from the parents who find themselves saddled with stay-at-home distance learning from the school.

The parents are wrong. The Millennial Generation knows it. They believe the system is not working, no matter what their parents thought. The value of an education no longer dispenses a ticket into work. It dispenses a certification. The jobs quit appearing years ago. Today more than just the humanities graduates cannot find work.

Commercial and Technical Certification

Fortunately, new ways of making a living come with the gig economy and digital society. Some people make money gaming or brand influencing. More find merit jobs online that do not care about schooling. Entrepreneurship is rampant and growing. Companies like Google now provide a path past the public school system. Technical Certifications bypass the usual school-to-job system.

This has been true for many years for technical workers. Oracle https://education.oracle.com/
Microsoft https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/
Cisco https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html
Amazon https://aws.amazon.com/training/
Google grow.google.com

All these companies offer certifications that lead to employment more quickly than any BS in Computer Science from university, and for less cost.  This is the result of the tech sector needing workers with specific skills that schools are not providing. Google has now taken this a step further with grow.google.com. Google offers training and certification in not just technology, but also retail, finance, and more. Google is just the leading indicator of a trend toward alternative education. Most parents want the certification, but maybe public school is not the right certification for students who want jobs.

 

 

1National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/

Kindergarten Helps Poor Workers

Charities to help poor children of industrial families started kindergartens in Prussia in the 19th Century. This was a world where most people over age 10 worked. The kindergarten idea was radical in a world where young children often had to be left home alone while the parents and older children went to work. The young often were drugged or gassed to keep them safe. Caring people watching over the babies for free made it very popular. Kindergarten provided a safe place for children to receive nutritious food, basic hygiene, clean clothes and companionship. The original movement was inspired by revolutionaries like Rousseau who championed the idea that play was healthy for children. Learning in kindergarten was incidental. Most people went from kindergarten to work.

Eventually, the Prussian government banned kindergartens because it feared covert labor activism. Nevertheless, the idea was too good to abandon and it spread across the industrial west. Fear of labor propaganda abated even in Prussia and by 1860 all of industrial Europe, England, and the United States had private kindergartens.

Kindergarten is still a good idea, but today the state runs most kindergartens. The state also regulates private child care. Kindergarten becomes more a part of state education every year as state education departments push legislation to lower the age of compulsory education. Kindergarten is required in K-12 education in 12 states and The District of Columbia at last count.

The world of work is more humane in 2021 but the structure of work is not. Families too poor to afford leaving a parent to raise the children when maternity leave expires still need the early child care solution. All single parents without family to care for children need kindergarten. When both parents must work, they need kindergarten. Early industrial workers were relatively more affluent than their rural cousins, but everyone had to work. Today people are relatively affluent, but are too poor to raise children even if they have a nice house, two cars, a boat and power tools in the basement. Many parents cannot lose a paycheck. The solution has not changed in two centuries. Public kindergarten still manages the welfare of the child, keeps it safe, fed, healthy, and clean like charitable kindergarten once did.

Sadly, the idea of play is gone. Play is radical again. Rolling kindergarten into K-12 public education transformed it into public school for young children. Most kindergartens are abysmal innervating nets of rules and supervision. Any playing that happens at public kindergarten is incidental to all the work that must be done. The child is placed on the lower rung of the learning system to “prepare them with the basic skills to enter Grade One.” No fun there.

Requirements for Public Kindergarten

Children who will attend public school should attend public kindergarten. This is the simple path. The state says that a child’s basic knowledge to enter kindergarten should include social skills, motor skills, particular reasoning and concept development, specific language skills, reading skills, and writing skills. Despite the bureaucratic language, this reading and writing is not Shakespeare. Children must be able to scribble and watch along as stories are read to them. These are fairly routine skills for any five-year-old human. Parents should not fret. Parents curious about the preparation for kindergarten should search the Internet. Many commercial sites like Leap Frog1 exist to set the parental mind at ease. Non-commercial sites hosted by public school districts, like the Fairfax County “Stepping Into Kindergarten”2 provide free resources. The local school district also hosts websites with specific information about what a child needs to bring to the first day of kindergarten.

It is all serious business and not just for the dragon parents who want the “right” preschool to get into the “right” prep school. Every public kindergarten takes itself seriously and expects no less from parents. The usual kindergarten curriculum is likely be ten or fifteen pages of goals and assessments in specific categories.

VISIONWe inspire learning by providing the greatest public education to each and every student.MISSIONEvery student will have the academic, creative problem solving, and social emotional skills to be successful in college and career.CORE PURPOSEPrepare all students to thrive in their future.CORE VALUESLearningRelationships RespectExcellenceEquity

Social skills3

It is all so deadly serious and dull.

The irony of the “COVID-19 lock-down kindergarten” is that the public kindergarten (and school) usually remained open for the parents who were the “essential workers”, who needed to leave the home. These children lost a year of play that non-essential children got. The white collar parents who worked from home kept an eye on the children attending distance kindergarten in the next room. 2020 is a year of unexpected children appearing in critical corporate zoom meetings. Good times. These were also lucky children.

kindergarten at home, "Kids Wishper" by Uncalno
Mom’s At Work Over There

Public School Not Quite Original Kindergarten

Public school kindergarten prepares the child for work by making school into work. The original flow-chart for public kindergarten must assume that 13 years of school prepares the child for a job. Most work is different from school work.

This all made more sense when most parents worked in factories or the mills. Workers went to the factory. Johnny and Joannie went to PS 135. Now the jobs are in offices, but the Kindergarten remains a blue collar factory.

Parents who use the public kindergartens should work hard to push the administrators toward the original impulse of play. Kindergarten should be fun. It is not some subversive idea. Make a sign. “Less marching, more dancing please.” Post it on Tik-Tok. Work will come to children soon enough.

____________________________________________________________

The Problem With Experts

Compulsory public instruction confronts students every day. Who do we blame if this instruction fails to educate students in basic skills and useful knowledge? Not classroom educators. They present the lessons. Experts design the curriculum contents. These lessons support specific ideas and social goals. These ideas are not political, but politicians get ideas from somewhere. Educators deliver lessons to individual children. To qualify only two qualities are needed:

  1. Educators must stay on message
  2. Educators never publicly question the message

Classroom educators understand that they are only a degree and an interview away from being corrections officers. Or clerks. Ordinary people choose teaching because it is a respectable profession. Some are selected, trained, given a teaching certificate and then inserted into the teaching profession. They have no control over what message the experts give them to teach.

Many reject what they find in their first job. It is not quite what they expected. They are blocked from teaching. They leave. The rest settle into being educators. They leave content to the experts. They teach to the greater plan. They introduce new ideas. Instilling belief in ideas is critical.  But sometimes the content is wrong. Sometimes the experts are wrong.

Accepting expert opinion is part of classroom discipline. If a fact fits into an internally consistent set of ideas, it must also be accepted without much examination. Ideas allow no reasoned questioning of  basic principles. Inconsistent facts are rejected and further examination is impossible. Rejecting a foundational idea by a teacher or student is not tolerated. A recent example of this is gender theory. Imagine that a student learns and believes that gender is a social construct and not a biological imperative. This idea becomes true for the individual. If someone insists that only some people have wombs, reality itself is challenged. The question challenges the idea that social constructs are more important than biology.  The question challenges the constructed reality. The challenge is a lie.  As Pilate said, “What is the truth.”

Climate Ignorance

Climate science, unlike gender as a social construct, is an accepted idea beyond realistic challenge. Thirty years of classroom materials supported environmentalism. Two generations of people learned from climate experts. Teachers taught environmentalism from a curriculum. But when did the school teachers become believers in climate science? They didn’t. Experts created the ideas and the curriculum. Educators just dispensed it. They probably were exposed to a certain amount of public information about the environment before college. They chose education careers. On graduation they were certified. They got jobs. About 1.3 million got jobs to face children every weekday. And they went to work. At work they were presented with the product they would teach to the children.

Rachel Carson made little headway with the idea of global environmental crisis in Silent Spring. Al Gore pushed against the amorphous mass of enviro-sceptics with his book An Inconvenient Truth. He was widely ridiculed for “inventing the Internet” and for his belief in global warming (climate change). These ideas had no firm core of believers. Nevertheless, a generation of students all watched the movie at school and read the book.

Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth
Still Inconvenient

Environmentalism needed two generations of students indoctrinated at school to really catch on. The idea also needed thirty years of public information support, NPR to the Ad Council, from dead birds in oil spills to unusual weather before convincing the mass public of climate crisis. Climate change is a foundational idea. It is the truth. Today any objection to climate science is wrong. “Climate deniers” are met with angry rebuffs and are often blacklisted from public events. The idea is entrenched. Reality is secure. Climate change is the truth.

Total Belief

The profession of educator is not the teaching of a century ago. This professionalism keeps them on message. An educator who deviates from the approved class material is removed or censured. This happens rarely because the classroom teachers, administrators, special needs instructors, coaches, principles, nurses, secretaries, and the teacher’s aides are mostly true believers.

Roger Berkowitz by anokarina
Roger Berkowitz by anokarina

 ““Leaders of these mass totalitarian movements do not need to believe in the truth of their lies and ideological clichés. The point of their fabrications is not to establish facts, but to create a coherent fictional reality.” —Roger Berkowitz” 

Is it fair to call public education a totalitarian movement or environmentalism a coherent fictional reality? The experts speak with one voice across all subjects, so yes, totalitarian. What about our example curriculum, climate science? One Washington state science curriculum for hundreds of classes for educators called ClimeTime comes directly from the state. The prospectus is openly ideological.

ClimeTime

“All nine Educational Service Districts (ESDs) in Washington are launching programs for science teacher training around Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and climate science, thanks to grant money made available to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) by Governor Inslee. This group includes teacher professional development and instructional materials resources developed under this grant. “2

The new offering for 2021 includes “A new virtual training, COVID and Climate Change helps teachers explore the relationships among climate change, COVID, and social injustice.” 3

A visit to the ClimeTime web site shows at a glance that “climate science” in that reality is not science at all. It is social engineering. 

Expert truths in the education industry are often ignorant and poorly informed. The idea that Earth Science is ClimeTime enforces the educators mission to indoctrinate children to accept ideas without question.

To the outsider this information is barely intelligible. Ridiculous. Unbelievable. To the student teachers, this information is required to graduate. This blinding of the rational process trains the educator to never distinguish the right wrinkle cream from bad social policy. That’s the truth.

2Washington Open Educational Resources Hub; https://www.oercommons.org/groups/climetime/4081/8036/?&__hub_id=1

 

Why No Indians on the Enterprise?

In “The Kumars at No. 42”, Patrick Stewart, the captain of the Starship Enterprise, is interviewed. The grandmother asks him bluntly, “Why didn’t you have any Indian characters on your show? A ship that big must have had a huge IT department!”

Fair question. The tech industry would be inconceivable without men and women from India, even more in the United States than in Britain.

The Education of Indian Technical Workers

What began in the 1990s as a simple cost-for-quality swap at most US companies became a choice of quality by 2021. The best candidates for reliable on-shore and off-shore engineers, and high-quality technical staff come from India to staff major companies like Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, and Cisco.

To be fair, engineers from China, Ireland, the UK and Russia also arrive, but the vast majority of technical staff come from the Indian subcontinent. Many transit other countries like France and Canada to make the H1B quota work, but they originate in Indian schools.

Quality of training:
The national education system in India is old fashioned at best. Maybe even backward. The images of ranked, uniformed students in front of chalkboards is still true. The education of Indian technical workers begins with the elementary system and secondary system. These schools run the gamut from traditional Catholic schools, and urban schools,  to government village schools. All operate with guidelines from the government. The emphasis is on basic skills like languages and mathematics. Everyone speaks at least two languages, their native dialect and English. Those who do well, advance to college or technical school. The village girl who took bowls of milk out to the fields for the cobras can be a test engineer at Oracle and work seamlessly alongside her more urban coworkers. Finding talent and then training the talented is the key to the system.

Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft
Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft

At the top if the engineering food chain in India are the twenty-three regional India Institutes of Technology (I. I. T.). These schools rank easily with MIT or Stanford for difficulty and quality of graduates. The I. I. T. system formed in 1956 and incorporated a vestigial British university system with a Soviet inspired model for technological institutes. Pavlov, not Freud, as one engineer explained it.

The students in these institutes often work through courses together. Living arrangements tend toward the informal and the communal. Students come together across the ancient ties of family, class, clan, religion and language. The union is not perfect, but it is superior to what society produced in 1956. Indian students cooperate across the boundaries of company, project and geography.

Generalization is foolish when speaking of India, but for the education of Indian technical workers, especially engineering students, long hours in school, tutoring in the evening, and hours of homework at night are typical. Rote practice, drill, memorization with grueling competitive tests for advancement are common. The application of abstract learning to tangible collaborative projects is also common. Learning technology related directly to a specific job, in a specific industry, with a specific company in mind is often the rule.

Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc.
Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google Inc.

Ability to work together:
While students are in school, collaborative living spills over into collaborative studying. This creates the habit of working together, a valuable asset later in the workplace.

The budding software engineer at the Indian Institutes of Technology spends long hours and long years learning to be engineers with the emphasis on real-world application of that knowledge.

Arvind Krishna CEO IBM
On the Right: Arvind Krishna CEO IBM

Ability to collaborate outside the company boundaries:
The resulting engineers solicit help and give help to people through social networks, friends, relatives, colleagues and peers. While this does not nullify the corporate non-disclosure, it does add to the research capabilities and the effectiveness of individual employees.

Learning the technology of a single company differentiates the education of Indian technical workers from others.   Technology learned in anticipation of joining a specific company is often sponsored by the tech giants in technical programs in Indian schools and universities. At the job interview the resulting focused knowledge of company culture and technology is compelling for most technical hiring managers.

Adherence to process and standards:
Strict adherence to processes and procedures requires definition of every detail of a task, the chain of tasks to a goal, and the goal itself. Processes methodologies, like Six Sigma, have taken root in many Indian companies. American software developers and IT professionals traditionally saw this approach as unimaginative, not creative, tedious factory work.

American business managers saw the opposite. Businesses want people who deliver what the business wants, when it is needed, and at the lowest possible price. American programmers traditionally did not understand what is desirable about the Indian approach to technology. With more Indian leadership in firms, this is changing.

Shantanu Narayen CEO Adobe
Shantanu Narayen CEO Adobe

Urge to color within the lines:
The difference between computer science and software engineering is about who gets to draw the lines. The education of Indian technical workers removed the focus  from designing during the project to producing quality manufactured functions within the design. Data communications is a great example. Modems once required extensive configuration to connect two devices and to transfer data. The Internet arrives with all that connectivity in place. Coloring within the lines has been a good approach to achieve predictable performance.

Padmasree Warrior U.S. CEO and chief development officer for Chinese electric autonomous vehicle startup NIO,
Padmasree Warrior U.S. CEO and chief development officer for Chinese electric autonomous vehicle startup NIO,

Reliable delivery:
Coloring within the lines also contributes to reliability. The jobs in the software industry are normalizing just like the Victorian railroads. Originally, the hydraulic engineer needed to ride along on the steam-powered trains to assure the boiler functioned correctly. The railroad engineer became the driver long ago. Now the creative software developer is an industrial manufacturer. Pushing creativity to the inception of the process makes delivery of the design reliable.

Nikesh Arora, CEO Palo Alto Networks
Nikesh Arora, CEO Palo Alto Networks

Desire to work:
Finally, something traditionally American makes Indian technical workers competitive in the US. They want to work, to gain respect, and to succeed. They want the American Dream, the house, the car, the healthy family, the clean streets, and sometimes even the temperate weather. This may come from vivid memories of poverty. It may come from the absence of a social safety net for their families at home. It may come from family pride. It exists. The new technical immigrants not needed on the Starship Enterprise are needed now in Silicon Valley.  Sometimes they are the captain and assimilation is not required.

Give the Classics a Voice

Living languages have a voice. Humans spoke them and speak them. Dead languages sit as silent hieroglyphs in a rock temple or cuneiform on mud tablets. Dead languages rarely return.

Dominant cultures sometimes kill languages. The speakers resist. Yiddish was the daily language of millions of middle Europeans. That stopped with the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s with the killing of most Yiddish speakers and virtually all Yiddish writers.

Native American and First Nations languages were actively suppressed by Canadian and US government schools in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Generations of native speakers learned English at the government boarding schools and forgot the world that grandmother knew.

barbarian invadors anglo-saxon helmit
“Anglo Saxon Helmet, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk”

Greek and Latin vanished from Britain and Western Europe as the Germanic tribes overwhelmed the countryside at the end of the Roman Empire. Christians kept the languages alive in the east for centuries. The monastic movement eventually pushed back against the obliteration of culture. In the 7th Century the monks Theodore and Hadrian reintroduced the Greek and Latin to Canterbury.

“[England] took kindly to the Latin and Greek culture brought her in the seventh century by the Asian Theodore and the African Hadrian, scholars learned in worldly, as well as in divine, lore, who “made this island, once the nurse of tyrants, the constant home of philosophy.” -William of Malmesbury 1

Classical Homeschools

The homeschooling movements in 2021 are testaments to the 7th Century monasteries. Interest in classical education serves exactly as it did 1,300 years ago. A small but growing number of people resist the idea that the accumulated knowledge of the Hellenic Period, the Roman Empire, all of the Enlightenment, and the American Revolution should vanish like the knowledge of the Huron or the Muskogees 2 with the abandonment of the languages and ideas on which they were founded.

This is especially critical in the United States because the Founders benefited from traditional classical education. A classical education in the time of the Founding Fathers meant the study of Latin and Greek and the works written in those languages. Fluency in classical languages came before college. Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, and Washington were literate by the standards of the day. Jefferson all were fluent in both Latin and Greek. They could and did speak and write to one another in these languages.

Contemporary classical education runs the gamut from reading the classics in English, as Mortimer Adler promoted, to full classical language learning in programs like Classical Academic Press that offer both Greek and Latin at every level. Homeschools feel their way forward like Anselm of Canterbury learning with bits and scraps.

Why Classical Education was Dismantled?

The 1914 – 1918 war destroyed a generation of the best educated young men in Germany, Austria, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain. Millions of young men, the best of Europe and America, took their Greek and Latin, their logic and reasoning, and buried them in shell craters on the Marne or in Flanders.

                  Those who survived no longer believed in the same values. They rejected Horace’s Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori and dumped it out with the bathwater and everything else.

The progressive education of the common school movement came from a desire to change the traditional curriculum from what existed before the Great War. The new curricula gradually reduced exposure to the classics. It abandoned classical language learning. Experts believed the classics no longer relevant in the modern age. The Interwar Period from 1918 until 1939 wiped away the classical school philosophy and replaced it with a new progressive behaviorist philosophy. The old way had not worked. New standards were needed.

“Apart from the thought of participation in social life the school has no end nor aim. As long as we confine ourselves to the school as an isolated institution we have no final directing ethical principles, because we have no object or ideal.” – John Dewey3

Advocates of progressive public education still say “it takes a village.” A much reduced human comes from modern industrial education. This is fine with the leaders who prefer the new citizens.

These leaders are wrong, of course. John Dewey, a bloodless Alaric with his timid progressive reformers, overthrew the system. Greek was dominant from Homer through the rise of Christianity. The Bible originally was promulgated in Greek. Latin was the dominant language of the Roman Empire. The Reformation and Enlightenment were founded on classical knowledge. The modern Visigoths wanted to start from scratch.

The Secret Power of the Founding Generation.

The cultural war continues. Americans who read Cicero in Latin, like Hamilton and Jefferson, improve the Republic. Reading Thucydides in Greek opens an archive of recorded business frauds and political crimes. A classically educated public resists the rented barbarians from distracting the public with war while they plunder the treasury.

Homeschool families should make the extra effort.  Learning and teaching classical languages is still part of a classical education. Christian homeschools using programs like Charlotte Mason4 should especially add Latin and Greek for the reason Anselm of Canterbury taught himself Greek word by word from every scrap of Bible annotation. He wanted to read what Paul wrote. It is not easy, but Greek, Latin, and the books written in them are still our best chance to avoid the tyranny of the next Dark Age. Learn to speak to one another.

1 William of Malmesbury, I, 12.

2 Read more at: https://www.aaanativearts.com/extinct-tribes/extinct-tribes-o

3 “Ethical Principles Underlying Education”

4 Simply Charlotte Mason https://simplycharlottemason.com/

Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA)

“When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.”

Song of Childhood – Peter Handke

The Local Education Authority

Curriculum is the first place homeschool parents confront school authority.  Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) usually comes as an administrator representing the local system and a set of forms to file. The LEA has many names, but is usually the local school board. These are often elected politicians who create, implement and enforce local educational policy. The responsibility for curriculum and implementation entwines with many other levels of government, community, county, state, and even federal, but authority ultimately rests with this local government entity.

The ideology behind the selections in curriculum and goals for administering the school social agenda is set higher at the state level. Most state boards of education set requirements for graduation, for example, and it is the LEA responsibility to assure that the local curriculum meets those standards. These requirements vary from region to region, but not significantly. The state and federal governments also influence curriculum through funding. Political parties and social movements also influence this funding to achieve social goals. Curriculum quickly becomes serious business, so the parents’ first interaction with the system must go well.

child as a child homeschooled
Hey There by E. Fleming

The LEA allows parents to select the school type: public or private. The parent also may choose a neighborhood school or a charter school if these are available in the district. The process is bureaucratic and routine. Homeschool is a choice, but this choice takes the student away from the district. Homeschool takes the family off the menu. Different forms are required. Sometimes a brief interview. The parent must understand that choosing homeschooling changes nothing. The LEA is still in authority. Homeschool allows curriculum choices beyond the menu of public or private schools. It removes the student from the social agenda of administrators and teachers. It does not remove the child from potential social services contact or other local education laws.

Getting Free Legal Advice

 Parents must prepare to leave the system. When dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) and the school administrators, never treat them as allies or as resources for anything but their own paperwork. Declaring intent to homeschool usually only requires the parent to notify the school administrators, but an hour getting local legal background pays off. One good site for legal issues, and local regulations in 2021 is Findlaw.

  Findlaw.com/education.htmlFindlaw.com is a legal site with extensive free information on education law and the local implementation of that law. Lawyers with specific qualifications can also be contacted through the site if that becomes necessary.

Administrators, teachers, and the administrative assistant across the counter are paid by the existing system.  They oppose your choice. Homeschool removes funding from the LEA budget by reducing headcount, so any cooperation is at best passive.

decision done homeschooling
Stoic by E. Fleming

Dealing with Local Education Authority LEA Lesson Plans

With the decision and the declaration done. The LEA often requires parents to answer questions about curriculum and lesson plans. The LEA has another box to check off. Plan to have an answer when asked about your home school plans. This may be a form the parent-teacher completes for the secretary at declaration, or periodically to the LEA.  Nothing complex. Nothing controversial. Be prepared before the meeting. What is your good curriculum? Whether you provide a religious or secular program replacing the public agenda, many canned programs are available. Most cost, but a quality free program can be designed by a parent willing to assemble materials. A good curriculum includes basic skills, life skills, social skills, and some form of preparation for future employment. Keep your answers short.

Lesson Plans are not a mystery, and no, you do not need an education degree to follow one, to buy one, or to invent one. Lesson plans can be purchased as part of a home school curriculum, year by year, or simply purchased piecemeal. If you want guidelines, look at what is required to pass the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). A program pointed in that direction will pass any government inquiry.

Ironically, most public schools do not rely on a curriculum to derive lessons themselves. The current fashion is to approach learning from what the student learns, not what the teacher teaches, so it is test driven. The lessons support testable standards. Even in those places where curriculum is discussed, no actual curriculum exists, just lessons supporting a methodology with a goal of achieving standards. Many public school graduates might have trouble passing the GED.

Searching your state’s education web page for curriculum will probably provide you with something like “Essential Skills”. The list will probably include:

    • Self-Awareness,
    • Initiative/ Self-Direction,
    • Personal Responsibility,
    • Adaptability/ Flexibility,
    • Perverseness/ Resilience,
    • Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving,
    • Creativity/ Innovation,
    • Inquiry Analysis,
    • Informed Risk Taking. Collaboration/ Teamwork,
    • Communication, Global/ Cultural Awareness,
    • Civic Engagement,
    • Character.1

The national agenda in America focuses on the social goals of inclusivity and equality of outcome, so a student might excel at school and never master the basics.In contrast, the Indian National Curriculum for Basic Education shows a different focus.

    • languages,
    • mathematics,
    • natural sciences,
    • social sciences,
    • technology,
    • commerce,
    • the arts, and
    • physical education

The Indian agenda is also about inclusive social bonding, but it is contained under the traditional curriculum topics. A country with many languages, races, religions, and long-standing biases for caste and gender uses “language” skills to include people in the larger community. Indian policy focuses on useful basic skills. For example, good engineers bring national income from abroad.

No national curriculum exists for the United States. The US Department of Education sets standards like No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Funding is predicated on these standards. These standards must be quantifiable to allocate funds, so they are set for achievement tests at every grade level.The homeschooling parent cannot duplicate the social ideology of public school. That is the bad news. The good news is if you teach the basic skills required for a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), math, language arts, social studies, and science, your child will graduate secondary school. If you also teach languages, more math, natural sciences, social sciences, technology, commerce, the arts, and physical education, your child will be competitive in the job market with someone from Mumbai.

 

1The Colorado Department of Education internet site under “Colorado Essential Skills”

Some Reasons Why People Won’t Home School

Public school distance learning seemed unplanned and chaotic to most parents in 2020. Some district Internet application, or K12 Internet School, became the classroom in the house. Homeschool could go viral in 2021 with all that learning at home, but it probably won’t.

Here are some reasons why:

Socialization

Parents say, “If I schooled my children at home, they would lose social skills. They need to learn to get along with others. Teachers will prepare them to deal with employers. I want them to get the right socialization.”

The teacher’s authority and classroom regimentation start in kindergarten or elementary school. This socialization institutionalizes students over the years. Methods for preparing kids for future employers changed little since most jobs were in factories. Schools continue an old-fashioned regimented authoritarianism not found in good jobs now. Parents who push children toward socialization should remember school better.

Income

Parents say, “We have to work. We cannot afford to give up one income to stay at home with the children.”

Most homeschool families provide at least one adult to teach the children. Unlike socialization, the need for two incomes and workday child care shifts family priorities away from education. Income and child care come first. These priorities also challenge single parents. Working from home allows parents to work and to homeschool, often with available child care covering time for critical calls and meetings. Parents who must work outside the home should consider a tutor. One decent income can hire a workday tutor. Not a Mary Poppins Governess, but a college or exchange student as the nanny. The cost is not much more than day school. Many middle class families afford this today.

Can a family be too poor to homeschool? If income assistance or government aid is involved, then yes. Authorities force humble, single-parent families to use the public school and government subsidized day care. Promoted as benefits, like government income or health insurance, school care ties the family to the system. To reject this help risks social services calling or visiting. Even still, all is not lost. Parents in this system can work with the school to use K12 and stay home with the kids. This prevents the total loss of parental influence that comes with children raised by the schools, by television and by their peers. Opportunities for supplemental homeschool appear over time.

Legality

Parents say, “Is this even legal? I’m not sure where to begin.”

Government school is the rule. The modern homeschool movement took off in the 1950s and 1960s. Advocacy groups like the Amish and other Christian organizations worked hard to decriminalize school-at-home in all 50 states. Homeschool parents must still adhere to local guidelines, but homeschool is legal. Hundreds of organizations across the country, and on the Internet, can guide the parents through local regulation.1

Those who decide to school at home soon find that the standards are manageable. Attendance is not policed and the rudimentary content standards are easily met. Parents complete paperwork periodically and students demonstrate competence in required certification testing. Even SAT and ACT testing for colleges allow a GED rather than local school certification. Remember, the certifying organizations are in competition with the homeschool. Schools lose money, both federal and state, when a child is not within the walls of a school, so administrators are never reliable helpers.

Time and Work Conflicts

The parent says, “I do not have time to teach my children and keep my job.”

This might be right. The single mother in Oakland who is working at two jobs to keep a roof and day care in her family’s life is not available to teach the child at homeschool. She cannot hope to do more than supplement the free government school. Similarly, the two-income middle class family probably does not have time to be with the child either.

This might be wrong. The basic skills of reading and writing require a commitment of time, but once the basics are mastered, who can say what the length of the school day should be? Isn’t learning to bake a cake an exercise in practical chemistry and household mathematics? No better way to learn some science and math. Unschool or Open School2 parents insist that regimented school hours and curriculum tasks retard learning. Maybe your parental quality time is actually school.

Selfishness

Parents say, “Spending that time educating my child will impact my personal development. Not being seen in the office will hurt my career.”

Many cannot imagine an uncompensated obligation. This speaks more to the quality of the parent and the moral center of the adult than to the issue of homeschooling.

Homeschool families make the education of the children a priority. More Christian families probably prioritize family and education. It is not so great a sacrifice after all, but in the secular world some adults can not understand personal sacrifice.

School Resources

Parents say, “I want my kids to be in band, be a cheerleader, or on the football team. Schools have libraries, bands, athletic facilities and team activities.”

The 2020 distance learning stopped most extracurricular activities. When these activities become available again, homeschool parents still can use the school facilities. Public means access to public facilities. Homeschool families participated in school events in the past. Many localities also mandate that schools open programs to home school students who need public libraries, art museums, golf, soccer, or other available activities. Community programs or church programs serve the homeschool. This requires a 2021 reopening of activities, of course, but it is not about homeschool.

Social Lifestyle

Secular parents say, “We don’t want the religious orientation provided by Christian publishers any more than we

The Dream of the First Internet
“Gutenburg Press” by Killfile

want the social agenda of the public school. The available homeschool curricula, organizations, and materials will not work for my family.”

 

The modern home schooling movement was driven by the Christian families who wished to remove their children from what they saw as the most pernicious influences of popular culture and the government school secular bias. These families have the most proven curriculum materials. More recently, the Muslim3 and Jewish4 communities have also entered into developing curriculum for their followers just like the Christian families. Even secular families no longer are out in the cold5.

Of course any family can design something closely suited to their own goals. The Internet changes everything. Gutenberg6 and The Internet Archive7 alone contain more free material than existed on Earth in all the great universities and libraries at one point in history. A family can offer a secular curriculum easily. The Enlightenment happened and documented itself. This requires more work from the parent-teacher, but is simple. Secular families should be encouraged to look into Unschooling8 where the life of the family replaces the curriculum itself.

Teaching Qualification

Parents insist, “I’m not qualified to teach. Even if I teach the basics like reading, writing, or household arithmetic, what about science, algebra, or chemistry. What will my kids do for advanced study?”

The schools struggle with skills training, so any focused effort on the basics exceeds what the kids get in school. This is why the ranks of National Spelling Champions are nearly monopolized by homeschooled scholars. Similarly, few certified public school teachers mastered advanced mathematics. People who mastered math probably got a high paying job with a tech company. Most certified teachers get their advanced subject skills out of the Teachers Edition of the textbook. Parents can buy those books online and be as competent as most public school STEM teachers. Every course at MIT9 is online for free. Beyond the basics, on-line classes, tutors, and learning swapping groups are available.

Certification

homeschool graduation
Homeschool Graduation 2011 – Jim the Photographer

Parents say, “I think parents must be certified to teach at home. And how does my child get a high school diploma to get work or get into college anyway without one?”

Home teachers need no certificate. Some schools would like parent certification to be law. It is not. The teacher’s unions in some urban areas would like the homeschool parent to be both certified and paying dues. Homeschool learning does not require it. The industrial profession of teaching requires teacher certification. No parent needs it.

Terminal certification is a different challenge. The government empowers schools to certify when a child has completed each level of schooling. A high school diploma is an authority document. Employers and Human Resource Managers still need the degrees. Nevertheless, long-standing alternatives exist. General Educational Development (GED) works as well as high school diploma. It carries the same social authority as a diploma from East Lancing High or any public school for that matter.

Empowerment

People still say, “Is schooling at home an option?”

Many parents do not feel empowered to teach, but they are teaching. Parents begin to teach at delivery. The child learns to recognize people, understand language, learns to speak, to walk, to meander through the complexities of the family, and then, the outside world, all with the help of the parents. Children are learners by nature. Parents teach. Teaching children the basic skills of reading, writing, and math just comes sometime after learning to walk. Not all teaching has unicorns carrying bunnies of course. You begin with diapers and end up with teenagers, but that is the project. Becoming a parent empowered you to teach your children. Every reason not to is just another excuse.

Web References:

Click the link below or the reference number in the text to see the site.

1. Homeschool.com is a good place to start. Twenty years experience means they have seen almost everything. 

2. Open School is a novel idea for most Americans. 

3. Our Muslim Homeschool 

4. Our Jewish Homeschool BLOG:

5. Calvert Homeschool has a secular track:

6. Welcome to Project Gutenberg:

7. Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

8. The Family Unschoolers Network:

9. MITOpenCourseware from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

The Failure of Factory Education

People believed that education failed to teach basic skills to students before COVID-19. People after lock down believe that public school distance education is a sham. Neither matters. The failure of factory education is real, but it is not about learning or quality. Learning and quality are distractions from the issue of schooling. The public belief in a systemic failure of schools began with the abysmal assessment by Rudolph Flesch in 1955, Why Johnny Can’t Read – And What You Can Do About It . The idea that schools fail students stuck and remains fresh. National Review published “Why Johnny Still Can’t Read” by Baker A. Mitchell Jr. on October 10, 2020. The article focused again on quality of education. The topic is evergreen, but still not relevant. Public education is doing very well in the United States. You just need to measure the right thing.

Educators like reform because reform implies that the current education system can be improved tactically. Educators intentionally conflate learning with education. People learn. For example, about 80% of students learn to read well using any educational method, as shown by Russ Walsh1 so long as they are exposed to reading. Given opportunity and motivation, people can learn almost anything. Education is different. Education begins with ideas, with curriculum, and intends to insert these ideas and facts into students. Learning basic skills is often incidental.

According to a 2017 Gallup Poll, public perception has been stable for many decades. Stable, but not good. The 2017 result of 36% public confidence in educational quality could not elect a dogcatcher. It does not have to elect anyone. The survey results would kill most commercial products. Stores can’t sell milk at 36% consumer confidence. Nobody buys a car with 36% confidence in its quality.

The education industry works on what is important: to increase budgets, to implement changes, to redesign the testing process, and make revisions to curriculum.  Education and reform progresses decade after decade, budget after budget, regardless of the public opinion of quality.

The education establishment knows that children are the product. No matter how people feel about schooling, the vast majority of residents send their children to one public school or another private school for as long as the children will attend. Parents in every social stratum expose children to educational institutions. They did before 1955. They do today.

Public opinion of the educational system is declining, according to the media, but not according to polls of the public. Media coverage of education is skeptical on the editorial page, but it lists school closings prominently during bad weather.

Educators and politicians find the idea of a broken education system useful to squeeze the public bankroll. Public demand for better quality gets teachers hired, gets higher pay, and gets public support for increased funding of the industry. This industry employs “3.2 million full-time-equivalent teachers, according to federal projections  for the fall of 2020,” and “90,850 public school principals in the U.S., according to 2017-18 numbers from NCES .” And it gives jobs to school bus drivers, mechanics, and millions of other workers, some in school bus factories.

 The system puts 27,000 yellow buses on the roads twice a day, five days a week in every nook and cranny of America. That is not evidence of a broken system. Millions of families participate. Millions. These people are not confronted with a failed system. Ask anyone to ride a bus in Los Angeles. Millions don’t. That’s a failed system.

Educators support the current system because it works for them. People come out of the educational factory and staff jobs. Other people come out and populate jails. Everything works. Prisons need illiterate criminals as much as Microsoft needs social media analysts. Bodies through the system are the only product.

The President of the United States made opening schools a priority issue in 2021 despite the reality that teachers generally felt safer working from home during the pandemic. The quality of teaching changed little. Distance programs provided the students with remote classrooms. Lessons proceeded. Teachers appeared. Teachers taught. Seniors graduated in the spring. Social services continued as before. For most anyway. Why the urgency for a return to brick and mortar schooling? Education was broken in 2020. The factory closed. No product moved down the assembly line. The “butts in seats” education requires school bus drivers getting up before dawn. It requires factory attendance. The virtual education factory is no factory, so the people who benefit most from the brick-and-mortar education system will resist change. Educators today are like small shop owners looking at a Walmart opening across the street. 

School does not need to be a factory in 2021. If the  focus on making the virtual school better became fashionable, it could align with all the other changes in the Internet Age. This shutdown could be the opportunity to upgrade broadband, give access to poor neighborhoods and rural areas, provide resources to families, and improve learning quality. All that modernization of public infrastructure would bring additional benefits to all parts of the country, the way the Interstate Highway System improved commerce and vacations.

What would America be like without the familiar school on the corner? Maybe factory education follows big newspapers, typesetter unions, stenographers and the corner grocery into Internet Heaven. Maybe it will follow the yellow school bus into history.

 

Gallup: Confidence in Public Schools Rallies

The Washington Post in 2018 Says Our Schools Have Not Failed

2018-2019 Annual Public Education Perception Poll

Why Schools Graduate Students Who Can’t Read

Wikipedia.org/ Why Johnny Can’t Read

The System’s Point-of-View

Rudolph Flesch and The Elephant in the Room

1 By Russ Walsh | Original article on Russ on Reading | Russ Walsh is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child | Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble | Twitter: @ruswalsh

idea

In Search of the Victorian Education

Why Can’t Education Change?


Queen Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837 and reigned continually until her death in 1901. The UK was the preeminent Colonial Super Power when she came to power, although that term was not used. Spain and Portugal lost their colonies in the New World. The Holy Roman Empire gone. Russia emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as a great empire but was not a global competitor with the UK. France, changed by the Revolution, lost the Napoleonic Empire, and the United States ended at the Mississippi River.

Wealthy British children in 1837 were educated at home by governesses until about age 10 when the boys went off to Public Schools like The Rugby School, The Harrow School, or The Perse School and girls continued education at home. Poor British children grew without formal education and most could not read or write. In 1870 a law passed for compulsory education of all children 5 to 10 years old. As most poor children worked, this put a great strain on many British families to maintain even a subsistence living. Nevertheless, the push was to end child labor, not necessarily to provide education. This movement spread like Abolition and proved as irresistible.

The United States education was different in 1837. The large number of religious dissenters who settled in the colonies influenced education. After the Reformation that began in 1524 Martin Luther called for mandatory education laws in Europe to ensure that more Christians could read the Bible. Massachusetts passed a compulsory education law in 1647. Unlike their British peers, most American children learned to read from the Bible at an early age.

Spread of Compulsory Education

Compulsory education spread across Europe and by the 1830s most countries were using the Prussian Model of education. The Prussian Model of Gottlieb Fichte provided hierarchical education for commoners, guided by those who determined the needs of society. Called “Prussian” because it was supported by the Emperor. His army’s defeat in 1808 at the hands of Napoleon seemed to come from too much individuality in the army. He proactively sought a solution.

The Prussian Educational System consisted of tiers. All education would be free for eight years. During that time, elite pupils would be elected to continue their educations at a secondary level and would be trained to think, control, educate, and rule the country in their adulthoods. The rest of the students, the 99%, would, during that same eight year education, be trained well enough to subserviently work in the lower sectors of industry, agriculture, and the military.” (From Weebly.com. See the reference below.)

Prussian Model of Education
The Prussians Set the Bar

The British compulsory education act curbed child labor, but Americans, particularly American industrialists saw the benefits of the Prussian Method and led the way in education. Massachusetts expanded the compulsory education law in 1852 to require every city and town to offer primary school, focusing on grammar and arithmetic. The secular philosophy prevailed. The state fined parents who refused to send their children to school. Egregious cases required the state to strip parental rights. The children taken from a bad environment were apprenticed to other families to be schooled.

By the 1850s most places continued to provide education through private schools and through churches. The Common Schooling Movement of Horace Mann took hold as communities tried to curb the influence of parochial schools on the immigrant children coming from Catholic countries. This moved the emphasis from church and private schools to secular public schools.

Compulsory Education Law

Compulsory education is the still the law. Exemptions exist for homeschooling and the Amish, but every state requires that the homeschoolers follow specific regulations. Ironically, the most pressure for home schooling now comes from Christian dissenters who are not happy with the results of government common school where it is unlikely children are exposed to the Bible. Private schools must also comply with education law. In every sense public school, common school, and compulsory school is government school. What was just a vision for European, British, and American reformers at the start of Queen Victoria’s Reign, is now an accepted right of the state, the law of the land.

The vision realized, now public schools take responsibility not just for compulsory attendance to limit child labor, but following in the early Massachusetts model, they aggressively take responsibility for the welfare of the child, often protecting the child from the family. Today Social Services and Foster Care provide this government intervention, but the philosophy of enforcing the government’s rights over children remains the same as it began in Massachusetts 168 years ago. During the strictest COVID-19 lock-down in 2020 when public schools provided no classroom education, they still provided meals and health care to students. When all education stopped, or went online, the schools still provided social services. Public schools may not create good industrial workers anymore, but the central mission is unchanged. Compulsion. Control. Schools delivers social welfare. It really does take a village to provide public education in America.

Online Resources:

The Prussian Model

Compulsory Education Law

Victora

Historic Maps 1837 

Victorian Children

Early British Public Schools

 

Teaching Yourself and Your Own Children

We make choices for children to further some unstated goal. We live in the best place we can afford to live. We make choices about neighborhood safety. We try to sort out bad influences. We control the content of social media and entertainment. We monitor online activities to protect kids from predators and the wild impulses of their peers. We try to live a life by example. We teach them our values. We make choices. Schooling choice, for example. People know the neighborhood schools before buying a house. Knowing where the neighborhood school sits is not the same as knowing that it is the right choice for your kids.

The next step is knowing what certifications the children will need. Public schools provide a standard set of certificates, maps of progress K-12, records of periodic proficiency test scores, aptitude test scores and graduation certification. Human Resource Administrators use these to evaluate job candidates. Post-secondary schools use the transcripts for admissions. These certifications are the most common reason people who cannot afford private school choose the neighborhood school. Private schools provide all this and allure, that is, an aura of merit for the students who go private. So you found the house. Now the choice is can I map out the necessary certification and learning for my child? Can I afford private school? Or do I schedule a visit to the admissions officer at the local public school.

private school child

Believe it or not, the answers to those questions will be driven by your core values. NPR progressive values, traditional conservative values, Christian, Islamic or secular values all require different learning paths. Any values can be wedged into any choice in the child’s preparation for a career at a company, working for the government, working at the local garage, or in an insurance agency. All schools bring baggage. Life at school becomes more productive when the school shares the family’s values. If your values are preeminent, then teaching yourself and your own children falls into the same bucket as the good neighborhood. People who are motivated by creed might find common public education resistant, since a part of public school is inculcation of a specific ideology. People who are more secular may not care what the school injects. Those who chose private schools probably chose specifically for this socialization. Government common schools and public education make life difficult for families who do not share their values, so these are well advised to homeschool, or find a strong alternative suitable to their core values, like Hebrew Day School for religious Jewish parents.

I’m sure you get the point. Most parents use their education as a guideline for their children. If a parent is content with his or her education, choices are easy. If the experience was unhappy, new things are attractive. For example, the adult with means who attended private boarding school will try to send the child to the same or similar school. The parent who attended public school or Catholic School, will probably send the child to a similar school. Unfortunately, many parents make the wrong choice. They sent the kids to private schools that will move the kids into a different class than the family. Or they choose the neighborhood school because they need the “school-care” provided, and they are surprised by the continual friction against their own beliefs.

This brings up social status. The choice of schooling, private, public, or home, has implications in the stability or mobility of the family and the child in relation to the family. Income goals and social status are decided here. Do you want your kids to have what you have? Something better? Something different? Surprisingly few parents look honestly at this issue. A poor child with the right advanced degree can rise to any level in society. A rich kid may just coast and never have a reason to get good at anything. A smart kid, or an independent kid, can be permanently stunted in a public school.

Academic certification is the key to social mobility not wealth.

Many entrepreneurs got an education, but did not bother with academic certification. As Bunker Hunt, the billionaire oil tycoon said at a business seminar at University of Texas, “I dropped out of college because I didn’t want to work for someone else. Doctors, lawyers, and business executives all work for someone else. They needed college to get that job. I didn’t.” Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates and many more have the same story. It works for the smart, independent kid, but is not for everyone.

Those who want to work for themselves require education, not certification. As Elon Musk says every so often, you can learn almost anything on the internet. You don’t need a degree for that. The people who work for him need degrees. He didn’t. This is true for all but the richest 1% who are not reading this anyway. 

Teaching yourself and your own children is simple once the difference between education and certification is understood. The choices between institutional learning and education are obvious. If you want your child to be President, then you have a set of tasks to get the right certifications. If that child is destined to be an organic farmer or eCommerce shop owner, then just educate.