So many parents are frustrated with their public school system, and that is actually putting it mildly. We have published many stories of parents who are down right mad at their school district and even some who are afraid of retribution from district personnel. A few years ago I toyed with the idea of writing a book for parents who were putting their kids in public school for the first time, sharing with them tips for dealing with all the troubles I knew schools could inflict on new uninformed parents. Perhaps it was fate made me drag my feet on that idea (I never wrote more than an outline), because today I would advise people just as Mary Rice Hasson has done in her book “Get Out Now: Why you should pull your kids from public school before it’s too late.”

There’s a great TownHall op-ed piece by the book’s author and co-author Theresa Farnan, an adjunct professor of philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, detailing their reasons for advising parents to pull their kids out of public school.  I won’t spend time covering the pros and cons of letting them in and trying to change the system. The author echoes my own thoughts, which I have expressed in this blog before, quite well.

For Hasson, the transgender debate revealed that the idea of local control of public schools is now a complete fantasy. Even teachers and administrators are no longer able to decide what happens in the local school, so if you think electing better school board members will fix any of the problems, you are delusional.

Pulling your children out accomplishes two (maybe three) important things:

  1.   They will no longer be subject to incessant and sometimes dangerous progressive messages (e.g. the rise of comprehensive sex education has led to a statistically significant rise in STDs among teenagers.) This will lead to less stress for them and your whole family.
  2.   Their absence will deprive the system of much desired per pupil funding. It won’t take the loss of too many students for many districts to realistically face bankruptcy. This may be the only tool left in the toolbox to force districts to listen to parents. They will still have pressure from outside the district, but they may have to consider forgoing all the money that brings all that pressure in order to maintain any kind of public school.
  3.   They are likely to get a much better education.

And there may be a fourth benefit. All those teachers who are frustrated as well at not being able to teach how they want to teach, at being incessant data collectors for their evaluations, at having to push ideologies they themselves don’t agree with, at having to accept the rude or violent behavior of students who are rarely punished or moved to places better equipped to handle their physical and emotional problems, may find better teaching environments in the schools that walk-away parents start setting up.

Read Hasson’s piece for more reasons why you should consider pulling your kids out if you are unhappy with your school district.

Once you’ve decided to pull them out, what should you do to educate your children?

Consider putting them in a school that offers a classical education like The Classical Academy de Lafayette in O’Fallon MO. Last year they were just getting started and I wrote about them here. Recently I followed up with Katy McKinney, Academy President, to see how things are going.

Modeled on the Hillsdale College Barney Charter school model, the Academy teaches the trivium: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric. Their first year, with students ranging in grades 3-7, they found they had to cover the basics with everyone, meaning a lot of time spent on grammar and things like word marking.

“We had students who were convinced they couldn’t write and therefore hated to write… Once we gave them a solid foundation in phonics and grammar they were no longer distracted by their insecurities… By February, one student who came in writing very little because she lacked so much foundational knowledge, was eagerly looking forward to the next writing assignment.  She excitedly said, ‘I didn’t know I could write this way,'” McKinney told me.

“Another child’s parents said they saw him change before their eyes and his previous teacher noticed he was even sitting differently in class. He was enthusiastic about learning.”

What else happened at the Academy this year?

  • An 8 year old student chose to memorize Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet which begins, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
  • The whole school, plus parents, took a field trip (some sort of major trip is planned every year) to Boston after studying our country’s founding. They walked parts of the Freedom Trail. They all stood, grades 3-7, in John Adam’s Library and recited Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” On the North Bridge, where there was a celebration 50 years after the American Revolution, they sang the Concord Hymn.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

  • Their parents were assigned history readings as well to spur discussion at home about what they were learning in school.

The Academy teaches the four classical character virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, Honesty. These virtues are demonstrated through behavior. A significant difference between the Academy and many public schools is that their teaching team is united in their mission of “nurturing the student’s humanity with a constant view toward developing intelligent and virtuous American citizens.” That means they don’t let kids get away with things. There is no excuse for not following the rules or being rude to others.

Next month the Academy is bringing in the American Historical Theater to enact Hamilton and Jefferson debating the Constitution. They will perform once during the day on September 17th for the students, and McKinney says hope to have an evening performance for the public that day as well. Check their website for updates.

If you are unhappy with your school district and are trying to use the process to get the change(s) you want, Hasson thinks you are wasting your time.  She writes,

“Parents who set out to counter these policies run into a formidable bureaucracy, a left-wing education establishment that functions something like a deep state….parents don’t have much to fall back on legally or politically.  Courts long ago ruled that parents have no say about the curricula used in their child’s public school.  School boards, despite being elected and therefore in theory answerable to constituents, are susceptible to pressure from well-funded advocacy groups rather than parents.”

If you are seriously considering pulling your child out of public school, look for schools like the Classical Academy or start your own if there isn’t one near you. The Academy is expecting to double their enrollment this year. That trajectory has been seen in other Barney schools so it does not seem unreasonable for the O’Fallon school. They are also doing some significant fundraising to help them offer their program to as many students as possible.

For those worried about how their children will measure up against those in schools that focus on teaching to the test, a Hillsdale Barney Charter school in Texas got the top scores on the state’s standardized test without spending one day on test preparation. In fact, they barely noticed their scores at all because high scores on standardized tests was not their goal. Teaching children how to read in depth challenging material, to write well, and to be able to defend their own positions just also happens to benefit them on standardized tests.

Your kids don’t need the indoctrination, data mining, soulless machine learning and bullying by the adults they can easily get now at your local public school. To leave them in or not to leave them in may no longer be a question.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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