“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

For the first time, I recently worked out a Life Plan for the next five years.  It’s a loose plan, of-course, but it clearly outlines my education goals and parallels them to where my children will be at in school.  I have very specific reasons for getting a college education: 1.) despite criticism of the benefits of a college education by those with degrees and not working in their “dream job” or a field related to their degree, there is no question in my mind that having a degree will put me at an advantage in getting a position that is not available to highschool/GED graduates. 2.) I need a degree to be a social worker in the state of Florida. 3.) I value what college has to offer in terms of challenging my current ideas, expanding knowledge on subjects I’d otherwise ignore {eh, like math, geography, science, history}, and sharpening my critical thinking skills – though I do a fine job of this on my own, the classroom environment is unique in this area. 4.) I come from generations of non-college educated relatives and would like to break that cycle in hopes of making it easier for my children to view college as a natural procession of highschool, thus giving them a privilege in their upbringing that I did not have.  5.)  Hal has a master’s degree in library sciences, I can’t let my children grow up thinking that it is more important for the man/provider in the family to be college educated than the woman/homemaker.  6.) I don’t want to be a homemaker for the next two decades.  I’d like to go back into the workforce and avoid where I came from, retail management.  Avoid it like you avoid your in-laws until you need them to babysit.  Retail is hard, thankless work.  Folks who work in retail management are thicker skinned than I.   Even in the book retail industry, it’s hard finding a quality down to Earth store to manage – and if you do, you better hold on for dear life ‘cuz it’s like pure gold and there are at least a hundred applications on file for your job.

I’m constantly re-evaluating what I want for my children in terms of education and life in general.  Who knows, at some point, I could very well feel like Unschooling them.  Providing, of-course, we are able to live comfortably on one income.  There is always this over-looming concern that I will lose my social security disability income and we will find ourselves up shit’s creek without a paddle, financially speaking.

I originally went on a long ass diatribe in this post right here… about how limited the ability to homeschool/unschool/specialty school is to the average working American family.  About how tired I am with reading unconstructive _to the rest of us_ criticism of the public school system {it’s a public day care, it’s only purpose is to churn out factory workers, children are getting brainwashed and such}.  And how slights get pronounced without any accompanying resolutions to the public school system’s issues {the only course of action is to high-tail it out of there? Well, that leaves a lot of people in a shit-stained place of powerlessness}.  Or how all the pissing on public schools drives home the ill fate parents are procuring for their children’s creativity and intellect.  Those poor suckers who believe they are doing right by their children!

BUT, I stopped myself from posting that very long diatribe opting for this shorter version, because I realized that I was getting worked up over a group of people who I in many ways, agree with.  I also understand that even though folks who homeschool/unschool/specialty schools are typically white, middle-class, two parent homes {though, living on one income}, not POC or disadvantaged in ability, they get marginalized for what they choose to do with their children.  In a defense argument, a person will criticize the opposing or other groups as they work to get the positive points of their own practices across.   I get that.  Not sure its necessary, but it happens all the time.  Homeschooling/Unschooling/Specialty schooling is a political movement, in many ways, because parents are standing up to our government and saying, Our children deserve better and we are going to give them better.

I don’t think pulling children out of the public school system will create change in the schools, but if there are enough parents with kids in the system, who see the problems I see and think along the same lines about education as I do, a movement for the rest of us is possible.  Will I lead this movement?  No.  Though, I will support one by getting involved.  I hope that my great great-grandchildren are able to look back on this time period and thank the stars America no longer puts its children through such an antiquated education process.

My real dilemma: I am nervous about making sure Max and Bella have access to the best education possible because unschool/homeschool/specialty schooling them is not going to happen.

All I can do is all I can do, right?

As Max and Bella enter into their “real” school years, I’ll figure out ways to supplement their education, encourage their passion and creativity, and teach them the critical thinking skills that I feel are left out of the educational framework of public schools – all things I’m doing now while they are in pre-school.  I’ll stay involved with their school.  These are things my parents did not do because they didn’t have the know-how, education, time, ability… privilege… to do so.

{I once had an internet friend scoff boldly at the idea of thinking about privilege.  She felt it is a waste of time because nobody can understand what anybody else has gone through to get to where they are.  While this is true, her argument was so far off from the reasons I think about privilege that I didn’t know how to respond to her, other than to agree to disagree: No, it is not a waste of time.  I recently found a blog post that explains why privilege is something to consider when thinking about social issues.  Not only white privilege, but all the different types of privilege.  I’m not nearly as intelligible as other bloggers on this issue, so I’ll just pass on my resources.}

I appreciate the privilege I have that affords me the time, energy, financial stability, and physical ability to think deeply about the education my children receive.  I know that just because others are not able to or don’t want to take on these lines of thinking {for all the various reasons that prevent humans equal ability}, it doesn’t mean they care less about their children’s quality of education than myself.  I acknowledge that every parent deserves to have real access to the best form of education possible for their children and each child’s special abilities.  And it makes me SO ANGRY that in our day and age there isn’t a public school system in place that reflects the knowledge we have of children, they variety of ways in which they learn, and their keen ability to learn anything they want to learn.   America is so far behind in meeting the educational abilities of children.  How long will we have to wait for the rest of America to realize our system is inept and there are others that work better? It is not fair that white, one-income, two parent, able-bodied, upper-middle class parents are still the majority who are given choices in a quality education.

I just don’t know what to do other than to squirrel-away in our corner of the world and do the best I can to make sure Max & Bella have the opportunities Hal and I feel they deserve.  Which, as far as I can see, is the good fight that every able and conscientious parent fights.

Though, I’m hoping there is a public school movement that I’m not {yet} aware of that feels the same way I do.

Manatee County School Board, Hello.  I have a feeling you and I will get to know each other as my children go through your system.  How well we get along, will depend on you.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~ Yeats

4 thoughts on ““The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

  1. There is an article in today Orlando Sentinel about 3 moms suing the state over education. In the law suit the are accusing the state of failing to adequately fund education or to provide for a system of “high quality” public schools. This will be intersting to follow.

  2. Good gawd, the comments are vicious. I applaud these women for taking a stand in this matter. I don’t know anything about the school system’s budgets so can’t comment on that. I think the core problem has more to do with the substance of education, the way children are being educated. I’ll be following this case! Thank you for sharing this article.

  3. Michelle, you would have found our last SAC meeting fascinating. Our principal went over all the ins and outs about FCAT and AYP and how it is all a big crappy system. Right now the school board is trying to figure out why some schools are so full and others empty. (I think quite a few of us could tell them why…)

    I taught in a very low socioeconomic environment with early intervention and ESE kids. College gave me a lot of theories. But actually teaching there blew them all out of the water. I worked with very impoverished families. Man, I could tell you so much about what i learned. So so so much. I won’t go on so I don’t take all your comment space. Much of it was honestly very depressing. It left me with a heavy heart about the future of some of them. So I had to learn to do the best I could, and to figure out what I could control and not control.

    With my own kids, I am very glad to have found Rowlett.

  4. I think charter schools are a good response to public schools. The children are still a part of the public school system, but the school goes about the lessons in a different way. Hopefully, on some level, showing The System, a better way. I will be looking at Rowlett, but I’m not sure about it ‘cuz I’d have to drive and pick up everyday. Unless, there is a bus stop in our neighborhood that I’m not aware of.

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