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Someone writes: “I am interested in what you know and believe; since you have such extensive
background in educational legislative issues and liaisons… what made you want to homeschool? And I forgot how long you said you have been homeschooling. . .“
Gee whiz, we pontificators just LIVE for someone new to come along and say, as you have, “I’m interested in what you know and believe.” Don’t get me started or you’ll regret it. <g>
My whole career — my life in fact — was public schooling, until after the birth of my first child. She changed everything forever.
At that time, I was the top instructional administrator for Florida’s public schools. But the endless meetings and politics and travel to check up on school districts interfered with new motherhood, and we had a new “accountability expert” brought in from out-of-state. I didn’t agree that the State DOE could do better by taking over failing schools and running them from the Capitol. And my heart wasn’t in it anymore, in any case.
So I came home for good.
And when the first day of kindergarten arrived much too soon, we simply didn’t show. That was it.
Since then I have learned so much that I didn’t know I didn’t know! I’ve had the time and inclination to revisit the writings and teachings of my graduate programs, thinking about them from this whole new perspective. I’ve also found new ones, authors such as Holt and Ilich and Gatto.
I’ve developed a strong interest in the cognitive sciences, which is not something they mention much in public school prep programs (shocking, isn’t it?)
I am reading about it and studying it at my own pace, for my own reasons and private satisfaction — in other words, I am really “educating” myself, just as I did as a child. Even though I “attended” public schools all the way through, and got the grades and took the tests, most of my education happened out of school, under my own direction. And my parents, university professors and administrators both, left me to it. Bless their hearts.
So, what do I know and believe now? Hmmm. I know I didn’t know anything worth knowing before I became a mom. I know I’ll be damned if I’ll send my kids off for someone else to enjoy all day! Or, God forbid, to humiliate or hurt or damage or dull.
I know for a fact that my children’s experiences and education will not be turned over to the government. Never. No matter what form it takes or what choices we make as a family, the government is not in charge. My children own themselves and their good minds and thoughts and ideas and ways of looking at the world, and though I do love to help them learn, my main job is to protect their autonomy, to fend off those who would coerce and control and subjugate them.
I have been a public school media specialist and learning resources director and elementary principal and public information officer and policy director and finance officer and grievance hearing officer and legislative liaison and trainer and negotiating team member and state department administrator and high-level appointee and blah, blah, blah.
There are some wonderful public programs, and we participate in some of them. I am not against public programs, or any kind of programs at all. I argue both with homeschoolers who want nothing to do with the public schools, and with my former public school colleagues who think homeschoolers should be made to bend to public control or be excluded from all public programs until they do.
I oppose any usurpation of a parent’s right to direct and protect. Any parent. Every parent. Me. You. Us.
I favor better parent education and better parenting of education. That includes finding out about things independently instead of just assuming the government or some professional will take care of it. It includes paying attention to education issues and to the public schools, instead of washing your hands of them. They matter. It includes a healthy skepticism whenever the platitudes start to fly, even from relatives and old friends, and it also includes the same cheerful optimism about education issues that got me through several years of wildly divergent developmental stages (my kids stopped napping much too young and potty-trained much too late. I don’t know WHEN they ever will eat a vegetable — maybe at my funeral buffet?)
Did I mention I have an earned doctorate in education policy and instructional leadership? Big deal. If I can put it to use in your favor, let me know and I’ll be glad to try to help. Otherwise, call me JJ, and be sure to disagree with me often to keep me sharp.