WARNING: SOAP BOX RANT AHEAD!
People, there is no such thing as a free education.
Some folks erroneously think that their children can get a "free" education at the local public school. Wrong. Here in Obion County, the local board of education reported that in the 2011-12 school year, they spent $8409 per student on so-called "free" education. Folks, $8409 is not "free."
Poking around on-line, I found that the nearest private school, Christ Classical Academy in Dyersburg, listed tuition rates as $3600-$6625 per school year, depending on grade level. That is also not "free."
I'm a homeschool mom. School is cheaper for my family now than in previous years because we are re-using textbooks we purchased for the older kids; however, homeschooling is not by any means free. Tallying up registration fees, textbooks, music lessons, etc., for one student, I estimate that we've probably spent about $1500 this year on school. Back when I had seven kids at home around the kitchen table, the total was definitely higher.
Recently, I've had multiple conversations with parents who are considering homeschooling. However, these folks keep running up against a huge stumbling block: they want education to be free.
Of course, they don't say that outright. No, instead they say things like...
"If I homeschool my kids, I'll have to give up my job to stay home and teach them." Translation: "Homeschooling costs money (as in giving up a second income), and I'm not sure I want to pay the cost. I mean, my kids' education should be free - I shouldn't have to pay for it myself."
"I can't afford private school tuition, but maybe I can find someone to tutor my kids at home for a minimal fee." Translation: "I really don't want to pay what a good education is worth - it should be free, after all - but maybe I can convince some poor, bored stay-at-home mom to do the job for a pittance." (BTW, paying someone else to "homeschool" your kids for you is NOT homeschooling, and, at least with the umbrella school where my kids were registered, is not even allowed.)
"Barb should teach my kids for me, as a ministry, an act of Christian service. She's good at teaching, and she doesn't have anything else to do with her time anyway." Translation: "I don't want to send my kids to public school. I can't afford private school. I want to homeschool my kids, but I don't want to sacrifice my career, my time, my freedom, my finances - I mean, after all, my kids' education should be free."
In addition to the $$$$ that must be shelled out for each child, there are other less-objective educational costs: worldview/philosophy, socialization, safety, etc. These aspects of education don't have a price tag on them, yet they are potentially of much greater value than the cost of textbooks or a teacher's salary.
People, education is not free. Never was. Never will be. Public education is not free. Private education is not free. Homeschool education is not free.
That said, the challenge facing parents is deciding how much they want to spend on their child's education (monetarily, professionally, socially, philosophically) and where they want to spend it.
Why, you ask, am I stating the obvious?
Why? Because I'm a little weary of parents coming up to me and whining about how much education costs and how they just don't know what they're going to do and is there anything I can do to make the process and the decisions easier for them (ie, education should be free).
These are two-income parents, driving late model cars, living in nice houses, taking annual vacations, buying the latest technology, wearing the latest fashions...
...and they are whining to a woman who fed her kids almost exclusively oatmeal and PBJ's when they were little, who doesn't know what it's like to drive a vehicle with less than 180,000+ miles, who only went to the doctor when she was 7 months pregnant or bleeding to death, who thinks a "vacation" is eating dinner at Grammy's.
I have reconsidered the cost of staying home and educating my kids - the very high cost of their education - and it was worth every sacrifice, every PBJ sandwich, every missed summer vacation, every vehicle breakdown on the side of the road, every untreated medical condition, every missed career opportunity. Absolutely, unquestionably worth the cost.
But it's starting to get up my nose when these other parents come to me whining and wringing their hands. I understand how hard the decisions are that these parents are facing - I really do. But I am running out of sympathy.
One of my young-adult children has a saying: "You signed up for the job. Quit complaining."
What he said.
4 weeks ago