This past January a six-year old student brought a gun to his school, Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, threatened his classmates, and shot and wounded his teacher. Prior to the shooting that day, students notified their teachers about the student and the teachers in turn notified administrators, who did nothing. There is now a lawsuit filed by the wounded teacher against the school administration, and the principal of the school has been fired, albeit with a comfortable severance package. Statistics don’t lie. In the past twenty years more people have been killed or injured due to school violence than occurred in the entire twentieth century (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180419131025.htm).
Inexcusable incompetency and the failure to address worsening violence in our public schools, and in some private schools, has resulted in parents resorting to homeschooling options. COVID-19 school shutdowns compelled even more parents to pursue homeschooling for their children. Parents saw firsthand how many of their children’s teachers were disorganized, inept, apathetic, mean-spirited, and politically propagandizing. Yes, there are good teachers, but there are too many who have no business calling themselves educators. And many good teachers are fed up and have quit to find other careers.
Prior to COVID-19 shutting down public and private schools in spring of 2020, a little over 5% of parents homeschooled their children. By October of that same year, homeschooled students shot up to just over 11%, and that percentage increased up to just over 19% by spring of 2021 (https://hslda.org/post/homeschooling-continues-to-grow-in-2021). By early 2023, just under four million students are now being homeschooled. The majority of parents who take on the challenges and rewards of homeschooling their children cite concerns about school safety and problems with schools’ curriculum (https://www.prosperityforamerica.org/homeschooling-statistics/).
The homeschooled students who enrolled in the private high school where I taught were highly educated, self-disciplined, and had exceptional social skills. Anecdotally, most of the children I know who have been homeschooled have demonstrated that they are very well educated and have a high moral and ethical standard. More than a few homeschooled students complete their studies before the age of 18 and enroll in college Are there exceptions? Yes, there are some parents who “wing it” and never enroll their children in any homeschool program. Years ago a homeschooling single mother asked me about the private tutoring sessions I conducted. When I asked her what homeschooling curriculum she uses for her ten-year old daughter she answered breezily that she doesn’t use any program but lets her daughter decide what to learn. Delving a little deeper, I asked in what subject does her daughter need tutoring and the woman answered nonchalantly that her daughter didn’t know how to read or write, and she didn’t know her numbers very well either. I wasted no time telling the woman she really needs to step up as the parent and register in a homeschool program to get her daughter up to speed because the older her child becomes the more difficult it will be for her to learn these basic skills. She ignored me and meandered blithely away.
In one of the public high schools where I worked we had students who passed through successive grades yet never learned to read or write. Similarly, in the private school where I worked a student who came from a charter school could barely read, write, or comprehend basic math. He memorized the order of numbers but he had no understanding that the symbols for numbers represented a specific quantity. There is simply no excuse for this institutional neglect that damages children and our society. Failure to educate our children properly in a safe environment is a form of child abuse.
Poor literacy rates and escalating truancy and dropout rates plague our country. Poor education, or worse, poor education coupled with the propagandizing of students on “woke” or radical leftist ideology bleeds over into our society in the form of dangerous ignorance and a cold-hearted unethical attitude in all professions and social interactions. All this bodes very badly for our future.
What is the solution? We need to continue encouraging competent and comprehensive homeschooling, but we also need to do away with our failing public schools and establish privately-run, state-monitored, free-market, and non-profit schools in which the school staff and the parents work collaboratively and are accountable to each other. And since no one can teach what they don’t know, we need to expect high educational and ethical standards from those who apply to be teachers. These schools need to practice the highest level of educational standards and be competitive. Instead of pigeon-holing students into the same curriculum regardless of various learning skill levels, different types of schools or at least classes need to be created to provide the best environment for students’ different learning abilities so that they are all intellectually stimulated but not overloaded and frustrated. More trade schools are needed to teach more mechanically-minded students valuable and necessary skills that can be useful for employment right out of high school. Instead of the current scatter-brained, disconnected, frenetic curriculum that probably has a role in causing children to be diagnosed with ADHD, children need to learn the slow and steady skills of cursive writing, phonetics, and good old-fashioned rote learning in an organized fashion. Studies have demonstrated that learning cursive writing boosts the brain to learn more and learn better (https://www.verywellmind.com/how-the-dying-art-of-handwriting-boosts-brain-activity-and-fine-motor-skills-5083814). Most importantly, a good curriculum needs to teach accurate U.S. and world history and encourage a love for our country, warts and all.
Our children, our parents, and our nation deserve better than our current dangerous, inefficient, and incompetent education system.
Paulette J. Buchanan is a former educator and college professor. In 2020 she spoke on Cults and the Law at the International Cultic Studies Association/University of Tennessee’s Nashville conference. In 2019 she spoke on Legislative Action at ICSA’s Santa Fe conference.
Buchanan’s book Fighting for Justice: Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order describes her lifetime of abuse caused by her four older brothers, including their weaponization of the court system to file meritless lawsuits against her and many others. She finally obtained long overdue judgments and injunctions to put a stop to their lawsuits.
For more information and to purchase Paulette J. Buchanan’s book, Fighting for Justice: Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order, please visit her website www.fightingforjusticebook.com, or order her book on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Paulette-Buchanan/e/B09N4ZBGY2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share.