The other day I purchased an item from a large public entity, and I had difficulty getting what I wanted.
The basic product, which has been having a history of problems lately because of a restructuring of the “business,” is not guaranteed to do what it is supposed to do. For five times the amount, I can purchase the upgraded product, which, as the sales associate told me, has a better chance of working, but there is no guarantee that it actually will. In order to get the guarantee, I need to spend 20 times the amount.
Very few businesses can stay afloat with questionable products and no guarantee, but if you’re the U.S. Post Office, you’re too big to fail (have you heard that one before?)
Because a number of processing centers in the state have closed and are in the (long, long) process of consolidating, there is no guarantee that a first class 9 x 12 envelope can make it to its destination by the “estimated by” date given. Over the last several months, during this agonizing transition, many of my mailings have been . . . late, so late, that when a client of ours wrote, 9 days after the estimated arrival time for a package I had sent her, the product was still 3 days away.
By the estimated arrival date, the package had made it five hours away from where I had initially mailed it.
“What can you expect?” the clerk behind the counter said when I told her my tale of woe. “We’re the U.S. Government.”
Well yes, my expectations are low. The clerk’s however, were even lower. That’s not a happy thought.
Most of us are not particularly impressed by the products and services provided by our various governments — federal, state, municipal — and if you are a homeschooler, you have made a concerted decision to seek out a private contractor — you, your spouse, and your family — to provide educational services for your child or children.
Rare is the homeschooling family that has not been brought to task for choosing an alternative, and all of us have fielded questions along the lines of,
“What makes you think that you are qualified to teach your child?”
“Do you think that you know more than a professional who has gone to school to learn how to teach children the subjects you are just bumbling through?”
To the first question, we always answered, “As university graduates of the system that you’re telling us to send our children to, we should have received the education necessary to effectively pass on knowledge. Did we waste our money?”
To the second: Why not? We read, we write, we question, we research, we discuss, we progress — learning is a lifelong process and intelligent, educated people never stop doing this. We teach our children to do the same.
Increasing numbers of people are looking at homeschooling because they don’t like the product they are seeing emerging from the public sector model, and/or they are uncomfortable with the rising level of control imposed by the school system on its studentry and parents. At home, you can carry a pocket knife. Or draw a gun. Or wriggle about in your seat without someone saying that you have Attention Deficit Disorder.
Students receive individualized attention, and there are no clamoring bells every 53 minutes. Customization, to a student’s learning process, is standard.
While it is true that homeschooling is not right for everyone (we always have to make these caveats, don’t we?), the opposite also applies: public school instruction is not right for everyone either. In a free society, parents make the choices that they feel are right for their children, and if a village is involved in the raising of them, the members of that village tend to be related to one another.
We need private alternatives to public entities. Otherwise, who knows when the Christmas packages we send out will actually get there?
Join me Thursdays for articles on Homeschooling, a lifestyle we engaged in for 20
years, resulting in 4 grown, well-read, articulate young adults. My own specialty at the university was writing — a crucial skill in any society — and if this is something you are not comfortable with, I encourage you to look at my book, Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?”
“She really starts to shine when she gets on a roll discussing passive construction, and things we didn’t worry about 150 years ago, such as gender issues and online writing. ‘While online writing is relaxed, it is not buck-naked. . .’ just cracked me up! (See? It isn’t a sin to end a sentence with a preposition!)” — Amazon reader review