This may be a long post, my apologies up front.
I recently posted to my Facebook page a little image I found humorously sad. I doubt it is authentic, though I fear it might be! It seemingly offended a dear, old friend who is now a public school teacher, for which I apologize now. That certainly wasn’t the intent, though I can defiantly see her point of view.
This, along with another development I will get to below, has me thinking again about why we choose to homeschool our kids. Before I get too into that, though, let me say why I might have an informed opinion on this, beyond my right like everyone else to an opinion. I have a teaching degree. Double major from Birmingham-Southern in History and Secondary Education. I did my student teaching at a tough, inner-city Birmingham Middle School and at a more rural High School. After my 1st hitch in the Army I taught for over a year at a wilderness camp that worked to re-rehabilitate incarcerated youth in North Georgia. I re-wrote the State of Georgia curriculum in History and English/Lit for 6th-12th grade in a way that both kept us legal and fitted our unique circumstances, as well as teaching the GED courses.
I find now, that I am hoist a bit on my own petard. I have long quietly reviled the phrase “I support the troops but not the war”. Horseshit. None of us got here without volunteering, in multiple ways. Very few of us actively dislike our jobs or our mission and those who do don’t last past their first enlistment. If you don’t like the war we are in, we don’t really care nor do we want your sympathy. I help kill people, people I believe to be a threat to me, to my soldiers or to locals we have been told to protect. I wont go so far as to try to justify how this mission supports any sort of real US strategic goals, but as far as doing my job, I’m all in.
So, I have to shake my head at the irony of feeling like I support most school teachers while not supporting the education system. I don’t think most school teachers are reflected by that post on my Facebook page any more than SSG Bailes represents the average Trooper. If such a teacher actually exists, I hope someone puts him or her up against a wall and shoots them, just as I hope they do the same to Bailes. And for much the same reason, they are a disgrace to their profession and utterly without personal honor.
Acknowledging that most teachers, like most soldiers, are people of honor who feel called to fulfill a life of genuine service to others, why do we choose to homeschool? Because the administration of education no longer serves the vital, strategic goals of the US, providing us with an educated and thinking electorate. A number of things killed real education. The primary one is a lack of market forces. The second is Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy. The third is tenure and the teacher’s unions. The fourth is a lack of meaningful metrics by which to judge the effectiveness of teachers. The fifth is Political Correctness and the fact that Progressives have turned schools into social science laboratories. Until these are addressed in a meaningful way, we will continue to choose to educate and socialize our children in ways that seem more meaningful in the real world.
Which brings me to the second development which spawned this post. Namely, we have now formed our own private school, registered in Kansas, which puts us in full compliance with the State of Alabama oddly enough. We keep State citizenship in Alabama for tax and licensing purposes and I was advised by the head of the homeschool and truancy department of the Alabama Dept of Ed that, as a military family, Alabama simply wanted to know our kids were in either a DOD school or a private school. So, we formed our own school, which is permitted in Kansas! My Angel is also now a board member for a new charity with a really great purpose. Different military posts handle homeshoolers differently, not because they are in different states but because there is no common policy across the DOD for how they are supposed to be handled. So, some DOD schools offer lots of access to testing and resources and others don’t, pretty much at the whim of the school coordinator.
Thus, the need for this organization. In their own words: The Home School Association for Military Families (HSAMF) is a non profit organization open to all military (active duty, retired, and reserve) who home school their children. This organization’s mission is to offer a stable and reliable support on every installation for every branch of the military. Check out the benefits page for a listing of some of the special benefits to our members. In addition the member pages are full of links, supports, resources, and activities for military homeschooling families to take advantage of.
Membership is $50 a year per family. Right now we are doing a special of $40 for the first year.
I am really excited that we are a part of this on the ground floor and look forward to seeing this organization begin to change DOD policy and to help the thousands of military homeschool families connect to resources and each other.
To all my teacher friends, I love ya, and I believe we are on the same side and I REALLY admire your dedication. I work for another massive bureaucracy and I know how defeating it can be. I know the feeling “I cannot abandon them” because I’ve said the same thing about my Troopers. Teaching, like soldiering, is a true calling and must be followed. I’m learning there is more than one way to follow that calling….