Although we have been homeschooling for the past ten years, I still care about public education. First, we have friends and family who are teachers in the public school system. Second, we have friends and family trying to get an education in the public school system. And third, while there are over 3 million registered homeschooling families in this country, a majority of families send their kids to public school, and I am concerned about the future of public education.
I grew up in Pennsylvania in a school district that even though budget issues regularly graced the local paper’s headlines, education flourished. No matter what budget cuts had to be made, there always seemed to be enough to go around. In fact, if the same education and opportunities that I enjoyed growing up were available here in Florida, I doubt we would have ever considered homeschooling. But, like so many other school districts across the country, even that district that was so full of abundance, is hurting.
The state cut funding to the Hazleton Area School District, the place where I grew up. The school board has to cut over $7 million from the 2011-2012 budget. After eliminating 11 teachers, 30 aides, 2 principles, 1 vice principle, 1 nurse, 1 nurse’s assistant, summer school, all 7th and 8th grade sports and all extra-curricular activities, the board is only about halfway to its goal.
Here in Pinellas County, the schools aren’t that lucky. They have to cut $60 million dollars from the budget. To give you an idea just how much school officials are at a loss for finding any kind of solution, they solicited ideas from the community. Some of the ideas were very interesting.
- Use classroom teachers to teach PE and reduce PE (yes, let’s raise up yet another unfit generation)
- Pay to play. In other words, clubs, activities, and sports would not be funded by the schools but by the participants.
- Volunteer coaches
- Eliminate driver’s education (yes, let’s put even MORE bad drivers on Pinellas county roads! As if we don’t have enough people out there making right hand turns from the left turn lane. But I digress.)
- Eliminate magnet programs
- Shorten the school year
- Electronic textbooks
- Sell advertising on buses, school marquees and the district website
These are only a few of the ideas from the community. My favorite suggestion, though, is the suggestion to eliminate the cafeteria. Everyone has to bring their own lunch. I’m not even going to talk about the kids who only get to eat each day because of the free lunch program. Believe it or not, we do have kids in our community who get almost no food if school isn’t open. But this suggestion comes right before the article in the Chicago Tribune which reports that in Chicago some schools have banned homemade lunches for the last six years. Unless your child has a medical condition backed by a doctor’s note, your child will eat what is available in the school cafeteria or starve.
Since we do homeschool, obviously my husband and I don’t believe that the public school system is the end-all-be-all answer for education. I don’t know what the future holds for public schools, but I do know that most homeschooling communities are not hurting for extra-curricular activities, and we’re already used to paying to play and serious fundraising. All of these extreme budget cuts either mean we’ve put too much emphasis on what the school should be responsible for or we’ve really lost sight of our priorities. All I know is this is just one more reason to homeschool.
Thanks for stopping by! During your quiet time this week, would you please pray for our schools, the parents, the teachers, the students and especially for the school officials who have to make these very tough choices.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,