Here’s something I shared a four years ago with Rebecca Miller of “The Sandwiched Homeschooler” on why my husband and I would homeschool though we’re both certified teachers.
Why a Certified Teacher Would Homeschool
Author: Cheryl Trzasko, Guest Blogger September 28, 2012
My husband and I are both certified teachers. He’s taught in public schools for many years. I taught in a variety of schools–private, public, even a Dept. of Defense School overseas–before becoming a parent. Some people don’t understand why certified teachers, whom they assume are the biggest supporters of public education, would want to homeschool instead. Surely we know the damage we are doing to our children? Surely we don’t want to deprive them socially and academically? Besides, teachers don’t get paid much; surely we could live better lives if we were both working?
Frankly, one of my reasons for homeschooling our children is that I know too much about what really goes on in schools. I’ve taught in a lot of schools and have seen a lot. Enough to know that these sorts of things go on in the best schools, not just the worst, and that nothing a school can provide my young children could outweigh the possible damage that could be done to them there.
I know. That sounds extreme. Over the top. But you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve seen and heard too much.
I had a gun pulled out in my classroom and pointed at another student. Lost a few years from my life as I talked the student into coming outside with his gun and summoned the administration. Then watched administrators do damage control, weaving tales to convince me that it wasn’t actually a gun. No, it was an air gun that didn’t shoot real bullets. But then they realized that that story would still demand explanations and show up in their statistics, so the story was changed again. Now it was a lighter that just looked like a handgun.
I’ve reported students who were clearly high. And if I can tell they are high, sheltered little me, then it’s blatantly obvious. But schools don’t want to report that. Especially if the parents are school supporters, helping bring in funding. (This is when private schools are more dangerous than public. Private schools seem safer, but sometimes it is because they have thicker carpets to sweep things under, especially with families who have deep pockets. In fact, private schools have been known to sometimes fire a teacher, or at least not renew their contract, rather than offend a big contributor.) So, they turn a blind eye. Pretend it never happened. Wait until a day or two have passed to check it out–so the student will have had time to get over the effects by the time anyone official investigates, give him warning enough to get rid of the evidence.
I’ve seen a teacher receive a death threat and the administration refused to do anything. This is after Columbine, so you’d think they’d know better. But they didn’t want it on their school’s record. That’s often the reason school officials won’t do anything about bullying and sometimes “re-train” teachers who are trying to reign in bullies. (The teacher in question, reported the threat to the police, analyzed handwriting to figure out who was behind it and demanded the student be moved out of her classroom. Administrators hated it, but often that’s the only way to get protection when administrators are too concerned about political ramifications and not concerned enough about the safety of individuals.) And I’ve been threatened by a student and told I was over-reacting–only to discover that the same student had done the same thing to the huge, tough coach and he’d been scared by it, too.
There are the students who perform sexual acts in classrooms, but can’t be disciplined because they have been labeled as ESE (i.e., special education students). So other students are subjected to such things again and again, while reports are written but not much else is done to stop the problem.
I taught a boy who was wearing an ankle bracelet–the kind that accused criminals wear while out on house arrest. The media reported that he’d been expelled from the public school system as he awaited trial for detailed plans to bomb a school. But he was instead moved to another school. Mine. And the huge, muscle-bound teens who looked like football linebackers were careful not to get within six feet of this tiny young fellow out of fear of bumping into him accidentally and having him come after them next.
And the things that some kids teach others in the classroom! Where to get drugs, how to vandalize property, how to be disrespectful, that getting good grades and learning isn’t “cool,” and a lot of other ideas that I don’t want my children learning.
And then there are some of the teachers. One teacher I knew had a student slamming another into a wall, while the teacher sat at his desk with his feet up on the desk and a newspaper in front of his face oblivious to it all. Students had told me that this teacher always read a paper during class and didn’t actually teach anything, but I didn’t believe it until I ran to his classroom to find out what the horrible pounding noises were and saw it myself. The teacher often came to class 10 or 15 minutes late. Not just the first class of the day, but to other classes during the day, too. And left 10 or 15 minutes early. When I complained to the administration, I was told that they knew about it and parents had complained, but they didn’t have anyone to replace him with, so they’d kept him on–year after year. (And I would think that just about anyone would be better than that man in the classroom, but what did I know?)
Another left his classroom more than an hour early. When I asked students why they had no teacher in the room, I was told that he had a flight to catch and that he had told them to work on a packet of assignments by themselves. Administrators did get someone down to watch the students when I reported what I’d discovered, but he wasn’t fired. He finished out the year. (Though he wasn’t back the next year.)
Or the one who tried to tell his students and colleagues that a website could read their minds because he, a math teacher, didn’t know enough math to realize that a website was figuring something out using algebra. How can someone like that actually be teaching math? But he was. And still is as far as I know.
Or the fellow who regularly had his students leave the classroom, and the campus, to buy junk food for him. Administrators knew he was a lousy teacher but were afraid to fire him because he was disabled, so they moved him from one school to another, from one teaching assignment to another, trying to minimize the damage.
Or how about the games that administrators play? Hmmm, state law says that algebra teachers should have no more than 15 students in a class… So, instead of giving algebra teachers smaller classes, they play games with numbers and tell teachers that the class with 38 students meets legal requirements because she has zero students during lunchtime and zero during her planning period and so it all averages out to less than 15 students per class. Or we have students who are scoring way below grade level? Instead of teaching the basics and trying to help them get to where they need to be, let’s hire an expensive consultant who’ll tell how to spend time on trivial ideas that will get them more points on the big test (but leave them even less prepared for the next school year).
So why would a certified teacher want to homeschool her own? This teacher knows too much of what really goes on. Knows that she wants her children kept safe from bullies, bullets, thugs, and more. Knows that she wants teachers who’ll do their jobs and teach the children. Wants to trust those who care for her children and are supposed to oversee what’s going on. There are a lot of great teachers out there. And great students. But the bad ones are so bad, that I don’t want to risk my children gambling on whether they’ll have to deal with them. There are other reasons, too, such as getting to enjoy my own children, spending precious time with them. Or having the freedom to run our own schedule and let them enjoy childhood more with less wasted time. Or getting to instill our values without having someone else tear them down repeatedly. But keeping them safe is a very big reason to keep them home and the more stories I hear from those who are still teaching in the classroom as well as those on the news, the more I want to keep my children out of school and at home.
–Cheryl Trzasko, Guest Blogger
Originally posted on Facebook at “Homeschool PBC”
About Cheryl: Cheryl Trzasko first began homeschooling when she was in second grade, traveling the globe with her family in a homemade cement yacht. Her parents used some correspondence lessons (except for math lessons) along with a huge dose of life experiences and unorthodox teaching methods, that resulted in her graduating at the top of her public school class, going on to a top university and earning a degree in mathematics. She and her husband of more than 13 years, Mark, have homeschooled their own children from the beginning, using a wide variety of curricula, methods, and life experiences. Since 2005, Cheryl has run an online group for Florida homeschoolers with questions about evaluations at FL_Homeschool_Evaluations. She has belonged to PBC Homeschoolers, Inc. an inclusive, nonsectarian support group for Palm Beach County, Florida homeschoolers for more than seven years, becoming its leader three years ago. There her children have made wonderful friends, participated in plays, sports, park days, talent shows, science fairs, book clubs, a Star Wars Club, an American Girls Club, and so much more. She is a firm believer that there is no one “right” way to homeschool and that homeschooling can be the best education for those willing and able to invest the time and resources in their children’s education.