The public problem with private schools

… and home schools, don’t think you’re exempt.

Once upon a time, I worked for a newspaper owned by a corporation that embraced the political (and ethical, thank God) ideals of libertarianism. The main columnist – whose pieces ran on the website of seemingly every paper the corporation owned – went on a nationwide tour one year to explain libertarianism to every member of the news staff in attendance at a particular outlet.

Libertarianism essentially claims the government is too intrusive and should let people live however they want to live. I agree with the first part. As for the second, wouldn’t that be nice?

This writer’s tour came to mind recently when someone I know stated she’ll be sending her child to private school when the time comes. She went on to charge public schools discourage creativity by encouraging conformity, then went on to ponder – at the spurring of some like-minded minions – homeschooling.

” … maybe I can work from home while homeschooling,” the person wrote on facebook. “Hopefully the kid doesn’t need me to hold her hand every minute of the day.

“I could write while she’s reading or painting or doing math or practicing music or running around outside with her friends.”

This person is from California, I should add.

I should also add it’s not my intention to sound critical of her or anyone else’s idea. It’s just some ideas are so poorly planned, shallow and so … so …. bad it’s hard to contain myself.

I wonder how many professionals get done with work for the day and think, “Man, I’m glad I put that 1oth-grade trigonometry to good use this afternoon. And I could not have possibly navigated lunch without the lessons I learned from ‘The Scarlet Letter.’ Thank God for that high school education.”

Zero. That’s how many. Know why? Because the academic education youngsters get in high school doesn’t matter. It’s the social schooling young adults need before college, assuming they have the grades to be accepted (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that tough). The academics will come in college.

Here’s how I see it: I love my daughter so much that I could never serve her with the cruelty, selfishness and downright awfulness the world has waiting to hit her with the minute she steps from beneath my wing. But little bastard ghetto kids at school can … and they will.

It’s my job, as a parent, to teach her how to respond to these issues; encourage her to learn on her own what response works and doesn’t. I guide her to the right choice but let her make it. I also – and this will be the ultimate test for me – must be prepared to let her endure the consequences of a wrong decision.

All this must be done before college.

So I know there’s a libertarian perk to abandoning the public school system. I know it’s bogged down with the usual side effects of government on steroids (teacher tenure, class sizes too huge, etc.), but can you really tell me the fairy tale schooling libertarians hope for will better prepare children for the future?

I mean, at some point, children are going to cross paths with people other than their parents. They might even have to face peers their parents haven’t approved – peers of different skin color and income class.

Shouldn’t parents want to have them ready for the big day?

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