Many well-educated scholars have examined the culture of education in this country for years, which has resulted in multiple elegantly argued essays. Unfortunately, essays do not correct the education problems within our state. Our children are ranking well below average in math and reading scores, but as a society we cannot seem to understand that the issue lies in our own cultural thinking about education. We have become accustomed to public school’s one-size-fits-all K-12 education model.
You have probably heard about a move to allow parents to choose their child’s school. It’s being debated right now in the state legislature. This school choice initiative will help families across the state have options in education, and the option to choose the education that best fits their children’s learning needs.
We make choices everyday about what we will buy, what medical care we will receive, who will make our vehicle repairs, but we do not think twice about choosing our children’s education – until they decide to go to college.
After spending 20 plus years as a teacher in the public school system in several states throughout the country and having six children of my own, it became apparent to me that not all children are the same.
My husband and I chose the public school system for our children when he asked me to go back to the work force five years ago, but had to reevaluate when one of our children began to be bullied and grades started to reflect loss of learning. As parents we have noticed each one of our children has a very distinct personality and unique perspective on life. We have decided to nourish those traits by home schooling our kids.
Historically, homeschool has been a mainstream education option. Many of our country’s leaders were homeschooled or self-educated such as Benjamin Franklin, Sandra Day O’Connor, George Washington Carver, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and 12 other presidents, plus several world leaders.
Albert Einstein was considered a slow learner and did poorly in school. His parents guided his self-education at home where he flourished. He certainly did not benefit from the one-size-fits-all mindset in the public schools of his day.
The public school system gave me employment and insurance benefits, so it was a tough decision to break away. Unfortunately, in our area the schools were less than stellar and we couldn’t afford to send our kids to private school. We were left with little to no options.
Families should have a choice where they send their kids to school, it’s unfair that people are limited on education based on their ZIP code.
We should celebrate each child and encourage them to be the individual that they were created to be. It was always a huge challenge in the class room to meet the needs of 33 students. I physically fell short of being able to give so many children the attention they individually required.
In a smaller learning setting with my children, we have been able to encourage each child’s interests, and adapt the curriculum to their learning pace and learning style. Creativity abounds and the children are thriving!
Our family has made sacrifices to home school our children, but many families across the state don’t even have this option. Our students shouldn’t have to suffer one more day with a failing education and nowhere to turn. School choice would open the door for immediate change in our school system, forcing public schools to improve and allowing children’s learning needs to be met with a bevy of options.
So how do we continue to work to change the cultural thinking about education in our country and within the state of Tennessee? We adopt school choice and opportunity scholarships. We give every child the chance to be excited about learning! Who knows where the next Albert Einstein will show up…maybe right here in Tennessee.
I urge you to email the education subcommitee memebers by clicking here. Please vote in support of HB1285 so it advances to the full education committee and receives a fair hearing.
Julie Lopez is a mother, wife and teacher. She spent 20 years teaching in the public school system and years more home schooling her own children. She and her husband Raul live with their family in Middle Tennessee.