Why 85% of Americans Send Their Children to Public Schools

Gary North (www.garynorth.com), April 28, 2015
Someone posted a link to a collection of Google articles on homeschooling. The topic covered by the link was the fear of people to begin homeschooling. The link is here: http://bit.ly/1Kbb0Aq

There are a lot of reasons why parents do not begin homeschooling. Fear is certainly one of them. People are not self-confident about their ability to teach their children. They were not taught in a homeschool environment, so they have no idea how it is done.

Second, people have budgeted zero for their children’s education when the first child is age 6. The mothers have assumed that their children will go off to public school when each child reaches age 6. They have budgeted their time and their money accordingly. It is very difficult to get people to change their budgets. This is why people will not save. The overwhelming majority of Americans do not have a savings program that will come anywhere near close enough to let them retire in comfort. It is unlikely that they will ever have such a program. They do not have the self-discipline to save, and these days, they do not have investment avenues that are going to let them collect enough money in retirement to live comfortably. With interest rates close to zero, saving is ultimately futile. They know it. They do not want to change. They would have to change their spending habits, and it is extremely hard for people to change their habits.

Now, somebody tells him that they have to reschedule their lives and their spending patterns. People resist this in almost every case. This is why time management programs are never adopted and implemented.

In the case of public schools, virtually the entire society is religiously in favor of them. Voters believe in the state as an agency of healing. They believe the state has a moral responsibility to educate all children. They believe that the best education is available in public schools. They think that only crackpots and weirdos homeschool. This is true of virtually all churches. The pastors are generally in favor of the public schools. Pastors are afraid of getting fired. If they start preaching against sending children to the public schools, which 80% of the members have done or are doing, they are likely to get fired. Pastors cannot earn a decent living doing anything else except preaching, so they do not preach against public education. They let it ride. So, people never hear sermons against the public schools. Who is going to tell them about public schools and how bad they are?

If you look at the homeschool materials, there is almost nothing that shows parents, meaning mothers, how to budget their time, maintain discipline, and all the rest of it. The homeschool curriculum materials provide basic teaching tools, but they do not show the mothers how to do the teaching. Mothers get this on forums, or they pick it up from friends, but they have no self-confidence about their own abilities, and why should they? They are the products of the public schools. They are the products of a gigantic bureaucracy which was initially set up in the 1830’s in order to provide docile employees in New England, who would go to work in the newly developing industrial plants. The curriculum programs were set up to produce obedient students.

Most parents refuse to homeschool because most homeschool programs are not based on self-teaching. The mother does not know mathematics and science. She is terrified of both fields. So, she realizes that when the child hits 13 years old, she will not be able to teach the child anyway. The parent has psychologically made a decision at this point either not to teach the child the material, or else she expects to send the child into the public schools.

Then comes college. The same thing is true, but more so. The parent psychologically knows that she will never teach her children college material. She knows very little about distance education. She knows only this: she will never be able to get her child through college. So, she comes to a decision: when the child hits 17 or 18, she is no longer going to be responsible for teaching this child. She is going to send the kid into the public school system. So, she has already made her peace with public education at that point.

Then there is elementary education. Most parents think it is safe to send the child to elementary school. There is no ideology taught there, parents think. The other children are not hooligans, right? (Yes, they are. It starts early.) The teachers keep order pretty well. So, the parent sticks the child into the public school at age five or six. The parent must then make a conscious decision to pull the child out when the child hits puberty. But, at that point, the child has all kinds of social connections with kids at school, and the child fights the decision. Because the parent waits too long, the damage is done. The student is socially absorbed into the public school program. The student will serve as the resistance factor at age 12.

If we are talking about pulling the child out of the government school system forever, through grad school, virtually no parents are willing to do this. They all have said they will make the compromise when the child hits 18. So, it is not a philosophical issue; it is a practical issue. They do not understand about AP examinations and CLEP exams. So, they make their peace with the public schools with respect to higher education, and then it is just a matter of bringing that compromise down, academic year by academic year, until kindergarten.

The parents never make a 100% break with the idea of state-funded education. The state’s training makes it difficult to make this break. The curriculum materials at the college level are the same, whether it is a private school or a public school. The outlook is the same. The textbooks are the same. So, the parent knows that, sooner or later, she is going to have to make her peace with the public schools. It is easier to make this peace with the public schools when the child is six years old. The school bus comes, the child is loaded onto the bus, and the parent then gets back to normal scheduling.

The parents do not have to pay anything extra for the education of the children, whether we’re talking about time or money. They do a cost-benefit analysis. They give up with respect to college. Then, grade level by grade level, they give up, all the way down. They make their peace with public education about the time the child is born. It is very difficult to persuade parents to change their philosophy when it costs time and money for the parent to make the change.