Why Are Public Schools All or Nothing?

A friend at work home schooled his daughter up until high school, and one of the reasons he mentioned for sending her to public school this year was that she wanted to be involved in the band. That got me thinking. He pays taxes just like everyone else in the county. Why does his daughter have to accept an entire education that is inferior to the one he can provide her at home just to participate in band?

Then I really started thinking. Why can’t parents pick and choose which courses their children receive from public schools and omit the ones they don’t want? And isn’t disallowing a home schooled child the opportunity to take a single class that their parents don’t feel comfortable teaching them, say calculus, without enrolling in the full curriculum a denial of services afforded to all residents by the Constitution of the State?

I know the initial response to this is that state funds are tied to enrollment, but why can’t the school count students fractionally based on the number of courses (services guaranteed by the State) they use?

I’ll have more to say about this in the future, and I don’t want to jump completely off the cliff until I have time to think about it more and read a little, but this sounds like a reasonable proposition to me. In fact, I wonder if there would be grounds for a lawsuit against a county/state if a parent attempted to try something like this. I’m no lawyer, but it seems reasonable.

What do you guys think?

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11 Replies to “Why Are Public Schools All or Nothing?”

  1. Oh God, the way public schools are being run these days sickens me. You should see the way things are being “taken care of” in LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District).

    I agree with your post completely. Parents should have input in what goes on with their childs courses. I had a friend’s parents sue LAUSD over problems with courses. They lost, though.

  2. I think that this is a good idea, but an administrative nightmare. This could work in a business environment with real supply/demand dynamics, but with a government entitity that doesn’t have to live within real-world standards, it is a stretch.

  3. To me, the problem with public education is that aside from the teachers and students, the people involved are typically not well-educated themselves, lack imagination, and have no courage. I’ve always thought that the worst way to learn anything is sitting in a classroom listening to someone talk at you. Try to find a non-teaching education official that agrees with me.

  4. In some districts, homeschooled students can participate. For the most part, however, I think these activities are the districts’ biggest carrots and they aren’t likely to let them go. The NEA, despite its supposed concern for the social aspects of homeschooling, has stated that it does not think homeschooled students should be allowed to compete in these activities. Certainly they are not weighing in for the interests of the children in this?

  5. Dana,

    The NEA–ugh. That’s a whole diffrent post/rant.

    But shouldn’t parents be allowed to choose which parts of the curriculum they’d like to use in addition to the extra currucular stuff?

  6. Scott,
    I like the idea! Will never happen though. You see, you employed critical thinking to a problem. And that is something public schools would never do. You were thinking “outside the box” to solve a problem rather than figuring out how to misappropriate more money into said box.

  7. TVD,

    I don’t necessarily want it to happen. I mean, if I wanted my child to learn about something I know nothing about (art for instance), the public school system would be my last resort.

    I’m was just thinking why couldn’t it happen? And is the fact that it can’t happen even legal?

  8. OK, some actual information…the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals voted UNANIMOUSLY to allow an order from a lower court to stand which required the state board of education to allow homeschoolers to play on school teams.

    But schools are not the only ones opposed to homeschoolers being allowed on public school teams. Many fear government intrusion by holding homeschooled students to the same criteria public schooled students are held to for participation, ie., grades and attendance.

    I only took two classes my senior year. I don’t remember there being any issue with it. I only needed a US government credit to graduate and decided English would be good since I had gone a year not speaking any (I was an exchange student in Germany my junior year). I showed up a little after lunch, took my two classes and left. And I worked at a factory, getting off at four in the morning.

    I don’t know if there were special accommodations made for me, but it does seem that some solution could be come to if the real goal is to educate all children rather than just politicize the issue.

  9. …if the real goal is to educate all children rather than just politicize the issue

    And there’s the rub.

    Like I said in my original post, I want to read about this more. Thanks for the great info Dana! I wasn’t sure what search terms would give me information on this…”a la Carte education”, “a la carte schools”, etc.

  10. Not a problem. : ) A court in CA came to the opposite conclusion…no idea how the Supreme Court would rule or if it should. I’m still stuck on education being a state issue.

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