It’s only been about two weeks since the Clark County Schools closed here in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, and I’m already prepared to never send my kids back—to either public or private school. I’ve been unfortunate/blessed to have been unemployed since January 22nd (have no fear, I’ve accepted a new job—more on that in another post), so I’ve spent nearly every second of every day with them at home since the quarantine went into effect.
Frankly, I’m disgusted.
I don’t blame the teachers or the schools for not being suitably prepared for this Chinese virus crisis—after all, who was? Certainly not our government, or our hospitals, or our corporations. No, what I blame them for is not being suitably prepared to do the jobs they do every single day at the charity of the tax and/or tuition payer.
My daughter, Regan, is in 3rd grade at a private school. My son, Kevin, is in 6th grade at a public school. Their teachers are sending assignments daily, via instructional packets or Google classroom. Both of the kids are able to complete all of the assignments that have been given to them in about 45-60 minutes per day. I’ve been sitting with them at the kitchen table every day, monitoring their work habits and checking their work when it’s done. They have yet to answer any questions or problems incorrectly. They both simply breeze through it. It’s obvious that they’re both incredibly bored with the work that’s been assigned to them and can do it with little to no thought or effort required.
So we’ve been working to find them additional educational opportunities. Regan takes an online art class everyday at noon, listens to some authors read their books at 2:00, and watches the Cincinnati Zoo’s Facebook Live at 3:00. A lot of her art has been quite excellent:
While he’d rather be playing Forza Horizon 4 or Pokemon, I’ve been working one on one with my son on his saxophone playing quite a bit, and we’ve seen ridiculous levels of improvement in just a few days.
As I said, he’s a 6th grader. That’s roughly an 8th or 9th grade level duet, and he had zero problems playing it down in one take after working on it for about 30 minutes. I’ve always been reluctant to force the saxophone on him, because I wanted any enthusiasm that he has or doesn’t have to come naturally. I always said that the day he asked me for help or lessons would be the day I’d give it to him. Turns out that was a huge mistake—he has plenty of enthusiasm, he just hasn’t been receiving any decent instruction. He knew one major scale. He now knows six major scales and six minor scales. He’ll know all twelve major scales before we’re through.
They’re getting much more physical activity, too. We do P90X3 workouts together, we set up a pickleball court in the driveway, and they play soccer in the front yard. They manage to do all of this AND their schoolwork every day.
The point here is that my kids are enjoying learning much more at home than they ever have at school, and they’re actually learning much, much more. I have no doubt that they will come out of this quarantine far better than if it had never happened.
So my main questions are:
- What the hell are these teachers doing every day? If they can complete all of their assignments in less than an hour, why is school seven hours long?
- Why is it obvious to me that the lessons and material are so far behind my kids’ level of ability, and yet their teachers, who work with them every day, are either oblivious or completely uninterested in challenging them further?
- If my daughter loves art this much and my son loves music this much, why haven’t their teachers noticed?
- Why does anybody think teachers are underpaid? It would appear that I can do their jobs significantly better than they can, and I am a college dropout who has been working in digital marketing for the last ten years.
But the real question is this—why am I not homeschooling them? It’s clear that I, or any adult with a modicum of intelligence, could design, development, implement, and measure a much better curriculum than what is mandated by the State. It’s equally clear that the main job of these teachers is not to educate, but to indoctrinate students with liberal dogma. Any social benefit that is received by attending public schools is easily achieved through team sports, dance classes, etc. And nearly every state, including Kentucky, allows homeschooled children to participate in the extracurricular activities offered by the public district, like band and school sports.
Here’s why—I simply can’t afford to do it. I don’t know many who can. I’d need to earn at least $250k a year for their mom to be able to stay home and teach them full-time and maintain the same or similar quality of life, and we don’t live lavishly. Rather far from it, I’m afraid.
But I truly believe that many of those who can afford it will make the decision to homeschool after all this is over. And maybe it’s more important to homeschool kids than to live in a McMansion, pay thousands for club soccer, or drive a Focus RS. I’ll have to figure that out.
But the longer they stay home, the more likely I am to do just that.