Back when I was a budding thespian at Rockville High School, the drama teacher — a creative whirlwind named Orville Bell — decided to do something radical: He opened auditions for the spring musical, “Oklahoma!,” to students from a nearby all-girls Catholic school. I guess he figured the girls there were getting tired of doing “The Women” every year.
I was the second cowman from the left, and if it weren’t for my dance partner from Holy Cross, I may never have learned how to pronounce “Siobhan.”
I think there was some grumbling among a few Rockville parents, but because pretty much everyone who goes out for a musical gets in and none of the three girls were in featured roles, it wasn’t a problem.
What was a problem was next year, when Mr. Bell cast a college student as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.” Everybody knew the college student would be a great El Gallo, but surely someone at Rockville should be given the chance at the lead. Mr. Bell backed down.
I thought of this episode when I heard about the bill before the Virginia General Assembly that would allow home-schooled students to try out for and play on public school sports teams. It’s nicknamed the“Tebow Bill,” because apparently that’s what Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow did in Florida.
I’m against the bill for various reasons.
There are administrative drawbacks. If students are required to maintain a certain grade-point average to be eligible for extracurricular activities, who’s to say the home-schooled kid’s principal, homeroom teacher or guidance counselor — i.e., Mom, Mom and Mom — isn’t going to bump up Jimmy’s English grade from a C to a B just so he can start at wide receiver?Maybe schools should rethink their grading policies. Grades are proven to be ineffective and grading systems within the US are unequal and punitive by class. Grading is unnecessary and harmful; assessment can be ongoing and some teachers are dropping grading altogether.
Grading is a way schools routinely disallow many kids from sports. Schools do not see their job to be helping every kid who wants to play football play. Schools see their job as offering football to a chosen, qualified few. The high school sports industry has a poor record of looking out for student health and wellness, cheerleaders are no longer coed, and the school culture around football games is overblown and often toxic.
The author continues:
But my main objection is philosophical.
School does a lot of things, just one of which is educating students. School is a place children learn to get along, learn what it means to work in a group, to navigate the shoals of cliques and conflicts. It’s where you learn some of the basics of what it means to be a citizen.This is incorrect: schools do not teach any sort of positive socialization. Even in well-heeled districts, toxic socialization breeds peer-dependence, bullying, and cheating as well as an attitude of entitlement and a tacit acceptance of authoritarian methods. Perhaps we could say that mass school socialization creates the lack of empathy for others and an acceptance of authoritarian methods. That may be the core experience. Take a look at our political culture and think about it.
In August in the Deep South, we have kids in football gear with constant heat issues because of the massively centralized school system that ignores local climate and conditions. It's time for football in cooler locales and so everyone is on the schedule and that schedule is unrelated to climate. If we had not massively centralized, no doubt we would have far more diversity of school cultures instead of the pasturized and processed football culture. Lots of schools would still develop different cultural activities if football wasn't one of the official school activities and there was some sort of democratic and local input.
Human children are not designed for authoritarian factories. And families and communities have changed in the past 30 years. Families in the US have scant time off, unlike other industrialized countries. Many US families have no health care and most have health care that is time intensive and of wildly varying quality. Families are increasingly poor, stressed and fractured. Communities are strapped and segregated and bowling alone. Schools have mounting cadres of police as well as heavy corporate involvement in the form of useless textbooks, standardized tests, core curriculum goals and various initiatives sought by corporateers interested in the bottom line but uninterested in what families want or need.
Grading for elementary students used to be U or S and a hot meal was cooked on site and there was recess and lots of walking to and fro. Now our schools grade and test even the youngest students and food is an abomination. From the one-room schoolhouse to the massively-centralized system we now live with has been a long journey and most working-class families struggle to cope with schools' intransigence, exploding fees and increasing suspensions and medication. The author also says:
We often despair about our public schools in this country, but they’ve been a common experience for millions of us. If you happen to not agree with that common experience, you might decide, as is your right, to home-school your child.
You may have all sorts of reasons. Perhaps our public schools are too secular for you. Or maybe our public schools aren’t rigorous enough for you. Maybe our public schools aren’t safe enough for you. Maybe you love your children more than the rest of us love ours and you just want them around you all the time.There is not one common experience within the schools unless it is the decline of personal empathy for others and a innate acceptance of authoritarian tactics and ranking and sorting. That might be the true socialization experience of mass schooling. But there are many school communities with issues beyond who plays the lead role in a school play. Suspension rates in some areas are astounding, children and families are demoralized instead of energized.
“They just want to try out,” the bill’s sponsor, Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville), told The Washington Post’s Anita Kumar. “They just want a chance to participate with their friends, their neighbors, their community members.”
Guess what: They do have the chance. They can go to public school.
“I was disappointed to not have the opportunities that others did,” said a 17-year-old Leesburg home-schooled soccer player.
You do have the opportunities. Yes, taking advantage of those opportunities would mean trading your living room for a classroom, and I can see why you might not want to do that, but life is full of difficult choices. You can’t always depend on others to make them easy for you.
I’m not against home-schooling. I’m against people wanting to pick and choose the parts of a public education they agree with.Public education system isn't much interested in the public. It's a business that doesn't care about its users. Parents have no voice or say in how their children are educated in a vast system that enforces its legal mandate with police.
Forced schooling may have begun with a few years of basic skills taught but we now enforce a massively long attendance because the entire system depends on the money tied to that attendance. Families are greatly diminished in power by this institution that grew large without any structural way of relating to families other than to use its police arm. And that means schools are increasingly becoming militarized. Family disenfranchisement plays a large part in the vast amount of money spent since families cannot help target services by participating.
Every family should be able to pick and choose classes at their school. Schools manufacture credentials instead of providing learning services. That a critical distinction; credential manufacture is a factory model, top-down process. Providing families and their children learning resources is different. The users of the system should be the people the schools work with and accommodate in a learning services model. If schools would value the users of the school, they could find that their choices drive the system.
Who else are the schools for?
Should Home-Schoolers Play for the High School Team? - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com:
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