I have always embraced the value of supporting and investing in public schooling.
For the vast majority of children in this country, there would be no level of quality education at all if it weren't for this public service - and by public service I mean service for all of us - because without quality education, we can't have a quality society.
So I've been a bit conflicted when it comes to my own children, and now grandchild. Because my hopes and desires for high quality public education are undermined by the chronic defunding of programs and underpayment of teachers. I have never begrudged a single tax that I've paid for the benefit of education, but I have been repeatedly disappointed by the ability of educational systems to meet the needs of my kids.
Yet, maybe that's not fair. How well can a program - any program - designed to meet the needs of all the children in the system be anything but generic? As hard as teachers and administrators try to develop creative curriculum and dynamic delivery methods, they are constantly hampered by everything from legislative interference to lack of funds to bad parenting to the effects of poverty. So on many occasions, my children have opted out of the system and gone into periods of home or private or alternative schooling. And so it is with my granddaughter.
It's not your mother's home school!
Our granddaughter started kindergarten a year late - the result of a cross-country move that started during her kindergarten year, landing her in a new State (Wisconsin) where the results of kindergarten looked like the results of first grade in our previous home. But now, at the age of 11, she has decided she does not want to graduate when she is 19 years old. She wants to catch up - and move ahead - and have the option to graduate early. The options for accomplishing that in a traditional school environment are very limited, so we evaluated home school.
I must admit, I wasn't crazy about the idea of another go-round of curriculum development and teaching. I've done that several times in the past two decades, and I never felt adequate to the task. My children all ended up doing very well and acquiring excellent higher education, but I think that was more a tribute to their own ambition than my teaching skills! But today we have options that did not exist before.
It's not free. We're paying the cost of a private school education, but for that we get a sophisticated online curriculum, actual teachers, school books, workbooks, and other support materials, and a common core curriculum that's been tested and constantly improved upon for over a decade. Yes, I coach Aubrey, but her daily requirements pop up on her home screen when she logs in for the day. She has six different teachers - and a homeroom teacher - available in seven different area codes and on SKYPE. She will monitor her progress on a daily metric dashboard and be responsible for moving forward in her classes at a pace sufficient to accomplish her own goal of getting done with school more quickly. Most importantly, she will be learning to take control of and responsibility for her own education - something that will serve her for her entire life.
We started school today, and it was different and fun and . . . mellow. Now I am at my desk doing my work and she is across the office in her desk doing hers. I am excited - and nervous - about the year to come. Will we come up with enough extra-curriculur activities to keep her from feeling isolated? Will her motivation hold and keep her focused and progressing? Will I be a good coach?
I'll drop in from time to time and share our progress. It promises to be an interesting year!
1 E. Erie St.
Suite 525, PO Box 2036
Chicago, Illinois 60611