Monday, February 21, 2011

To school or not to school... that is the question....

You may recall this guest post that my friend wrote. Her oldest daughter is 4 so, she has been looking into schools and trying to make a final decision about this. Thus, she and I have been discussing the various schools that she has visited and how THRILLED (cough, cough, NOT) she is with them.

Personally, I have a vested interest in this, as I would consider homeschooling my kids if I didn't have a high-paying job at the point at which they would be going to school. The thought actually cropped up back in 2007 or 2008 while I was still studying for my conversion. The original inspiration came from talking to a woman who told me she spends about six hours every night helping her kids with their homework. Home schoolers usually finish what the kids do in school in less than that time-by lunch. Some of the other reasons why I would consider it follow.

1. Lack of viable options for schools.
There are plenty of schools, yes, but many of them seriously lag behind on secular studies and the others seem to be filled with families that are marginally frum or non-American. Here in Queens they are filled with Bukharians and in Brooklyn they are filled with Syrians. Bukharians and Syrians have a really different culture from someone who grew up in the states.

2. Inefficient use of time
Schools put at least 20 kids together for instruction. Even if they wanted to, they can't tailor the instruction for each child. The kids will be bored through lessons that they already know, and at some point the teacher will be going too fast on antoher subject. Also, a lot of time is spent getting in line and walking down the hall to specials, lunch and recess.

3. Schools in the US are low grade.
As I touched on above, the Jewish schools have poor instruction. New York City Public schools are known for being terrible. The suburban schools like I went to aren't so bad. However, they all lag well behind European schools which tells me that kids can be taught more efficiently, so I would endeavor to do that. Eurpean kids usually speak multiple languages and such. We don't even teach language until middle school (usually). I would like my kids to learn French, Spanish and Hebrew while they are only in elementary school. It's totally doable, but not if they are in school.

4. Debunking the two income argument.
Many people argue that it takes two incomes to make it nowadays.  The problem with this is that if you are sending your kids to yeshiva, one parent can only work part time because yeshivahs like to be open times like Xmas, when there is no bussing so a parent has to be available to pick them up from school or participate in a car pool. This also usually means that a family will have two vehicles, a cost that isn't required when you homeschool. Also, you don't have to pay a babysitter or day care to watch your kids after school and put them on the bus in the morning. Babysitters have to be paid for more hours than you are working because of your travel time to get to and from work. Most people pay their babysitters over $25,000 a year or more. Many "women" jobs pay that amount. Finally, if all these kollelniks can live on one income AND pay for schools/child care, why can't a family live on one income if they aren't paying for schooling or child care?

5. The REAL reason why people are so against it.
As a pragmatic person, I examine if things are really necessary. It's in my blood. However, most Orthodox Jews are not pragmatic. Home schooling has a rap of being for Xtian families, and it usually is, but there's no reason why Jews can't do it, too. However, being anti-pragmatic is celebrated in Orthodox Brooklyn where everyone does exactly what the masses do. I guess the masses in Brooklyn missed the memo. The masses are @sses!!!

1 comment:

  1. As a convert, I would be very concerned having my children bullied or picked on in yeshiva. I do have friends that were children of BTs or grew up traditional, not frum but when to a frum school. Each told me that they had horrible time in school socially and didn't have folks to turn to when needing help with homework. True this is not a scientific study or a large sample, but it is known that 'different' kids are not always treated fairly.

    I also think that one could more efficiently hire a wonderfully qualified rabbi or morah to personally tutor one's child/ren for Jewish studies (or whatever subjects one felt too weak to provide instruction to outsource) for less time and money than many medicore yeshiva tuition. Especially in a special needs scenario.