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/

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.


“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