I was recently accused here on my blog, by someone who apparently doesn’t know me at all, of being lazy and neglecting lots of children who would be my students if I were still teaching in a school. (See the comments to my article Why a Certified Teacher Would Homeschool )
I’d like to put the record straight. So forgive me if I talk a bit too much about myself here.
Yes, I’m a certified teacher who no longer teaches in a brick-and-mortar school. I quit teaching at a local public high school shortly before my eldest child was born almost 16 years ago because my husband and I think that taking care of our own children and raising them ourselves is an honor and a privilege and a responsibility that we bear to them and to the rest of the world. We’ve sacrificed quite a bit to make it so I have been able to stay home with my children for all these years while my husband works on a public school teacher’s pay–which a flyer our school district sent out at the beginning of the school year indicates is low enough that we’d be eligible to participate in the free-and-reduced lunch program were we in a public school.
But does this mean that I’ve been totally self-centered and have helped no one outside of our family? That I’ve neglected my responsibility to society at large? I can’t imagine anyone who knows me well would accuse me of that.
For at least the past 12 years, I’ve used my Florida teaching certificate to do home education evaluations for other Florida homeschoolers from around our state. I’ve spent a lot of time answering questions and trying to help those with questions about educating their own.
For most of the past 15 years, I’ve tutored some students outside of our family who needed help.
For the past 7 years or more, I’ve served on the Board of a local homeschool support group, offering assistance to families seeking information on homeschooling whether by answering questions, leading meetings, events, classes, or activities, running field trips, designing/leading educational clubs, filing paperwork, or whatever else will help.
I’ve lead low- or no-cost classes or clubs such as Debate Club, S.T.E.M. Club (doing hands-on science, technology, math, and engineering activities), a Star Wars Club that taught science and more using the science fiction series, physics classes that used Lego Bricks and other toys, and, well, a lot more.
I’ve organized mock trials, science fairs, geography/history fairs, and other events for homeschoolers.
I’ve helped families figure out materials or methods of teaching that would work for them, helped them figure out how to keep transcripts, portfolios, track credit hours, and more.
In essence, through the PBC Homeschoolers, Inc. homeschool support group that I have been chair of for almost 7 years, it’s almost as though I have been running a very nontraditional school for homeschool families from a wide variety of families.
Before my children were school age, I helped homeschool a couple of children for other families (and, yes, that’s legal in Florida as long as the child’s parent directs the education–or so the Florida Dept. of Education’s Office of Choice’s website on home education clearly stated way back then) when they wanted to homeschool but had issues. One wanted to homeschool after her child’s school had two lock-downs related to guns in less than two weeks and her child and a friend’s escaped an attempted kidnapping attempt on the way home from school and heard from the police that this sort of thing had been occurring around that particular school; she asked if I could help out as she couldn’t face sending her child there again but the mother couldn’t just quit working immediately.
Then throw into the mix that our family served as foster parents for seven and a half years, taking in children and caring for them around the clock until they could return to family or some other placement (and the one that couldn’t, became our child permanently through adoption).
So I don’t think anyone can seriously claim that I’ve neglected children. I’ve taken care of my own and those of other people. Just because I haven’t been a part of the very flawed public school system doesn’t mean that I haven’t been a part of helping others educate their children.
But then again, maybe the person who jumped all over me was feeling guilty for not taking control of her own children’s education. Or maybe she believes that we as people should put the needs of the state before the needs of ourselves and our families. Or maybe she was angry about something else that had nothing to do with me. But I just wanted to put the record straight. While I’m out here homeschooling my own, keeping them out of the schools that I once taught in, doesn’t mean that I’m retreating into myself and not playing a role in society to help make the world a better place in whatever way I can.