*Ed. Note: this is the concluding piece to Perrin's original write-up on education that was published last week.
Today, some good news. Great news. Last week, in PART ONE of this series, we examined the dreadful state of the existing public high schools. The state spends a small fortune per student and then produces horrific academic results, even by its own watered-down standards. And, the kids have the luxury of experiencing this fraud while suffering prison conditions to shock the Nuremberg prosecutors.
I promised I’d be back this week with solutions. We’re about to get to those. First, it occurred to me that this short series on education just happens to coincide with graduation schedules. This is a coincidence, I suppose. I also suppose we can graduate to something better.
The problems in the schools result from many factors. But, they are mostly the product of a never-ending series of increasingly heavy-handed laws, regulations, and rules. Students, parents, taxpayers, and those who enjoy intelligent civil society keep trading one liberty after another in exchange for fake security that resembles illiterate, zero tolerance fraud and little else. The trouble boils down to, in a word: “tyranny.”
The solution, in a word, is “freedom.”
Mel Gibson/Paramount Pictures.
A Cool School, and Not for Fools: The Sudbury Valley School Model:
The Sudbury Valley School, of Framingham, Mass., is a place like no other - except the dozens of similar academies in other states. SVS is a true “free” school. There are no classes, no tests, no schedule, no tenured faculty or staff, and few rules. The students literally self-direct their studies in keeping with their own individual interests.
The happiness is contagious as is the learning. Students naturally respond when the learning is on their own terms and not based on artificial mandates crafted by state autocrats. And it works. Forget the 90% graduation rates of the public schools, with the attendant 30% proficiencies. After SVS, students have an 80%-ish success rate in college. The other 20%, most of them, go on to be successful in many other ways. That says something. The success and unorthodox methodology have been chronicled in The New Republic, The Atlantic, and by researchers at Boston College.
This success comes relatively cheap. SVS charges $9,500 for the first child and less for subsequent students. This is well below the US average per capita student spending in the public prisons.
A Modern Comprehensive Private Home Education
Freedom Project Academy combines the best of homeschooling with Common Core-free, accredited, and structured curriculum. Their website is a treasure trove of information; check it out. An FPA education costs $2,200 per year for a full-time student. That’s about one-fifth of what the prisons spend - but with better results. They place a strong impetus on Christian tradition (okay, Judeo-Christian, in their words).
Home is Where the School Is
More and more Americans are opting to teach their children at home. In fact, the trend is spreading worldwide. The phenomenon is growing rapidly even in Russia, usually with a Christian emphasis. The Russians, one may recall, have a history of suffering under communism and state controls. It seems they want an alternative. They know what works.
Homeschoolers consistently score better on standardized tests. Higher on the SAT than public school kids. Higher on the ACT. Higher on the Iowa Test. They win spelling bees. They excel at math, reading, and science. They score higher, excel, and succeed. And, yes, most are as socialized or better socialized than the kids in the prison schools.
I could not find a definitive number for average homeschool expenditure. This will obviously depend on the level of intensity desired. I suspect the FPA model is an upper bound. Many parents spend less than $1,000 per student at home. Those spelling bee champions would work through that as C-H-E-A-P, cheap.
This one is fascinating. It’s essentially “normal” homeschooling minus the directed study, rules, or curriculum. Think of it as SVS in the privacy of the home - autodidactic learning at a child’s pace and in a child’s place.
I first heard of the unschooling concept through The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellyn. I read that book about a decade ago. I can’t recall specifics but I do remember tacit approval. Sayeth Amazon: “Young people can reclaim their natural ability to teach themselves and design a personalized education program.”
Traditional Private Education
There are many, many good to excellent private schools and academies across the country. There is likely one, at least one, near you. These range from mildly affordable to outrageous in tuition costs. That range also covers the academic achievement spectrum. What started out as a segregation academy in 1970 has probably dropped the embarrassing social stigma today and probably delivers results superior to public prison schools. Phillips Andover practically guarantees a shot at the Ivy League (and provides a world-class art Museum!).
The Addison Gallery of American Art, Fall Opening, 2013, Andover.
These options do come with side effects. There’s no common-core, no child left behind, statist agenda in them. There’s no socialist indoctrination. No depression. No school shootings. No Fourth-Amendment-violating searches. Little bullying. Little boredom. Little time wasted waiting on the lowest common denominator. Trade-offs...
There may be a way - in fact, there are many ways - to incorporate a combination of these alternative ideas into a better experience for a child. The tech revolution of the 21st century means a child in rural Nebraska can have the same opportunity as a child in Manhattan. Experiment and find your own right way.
Similar issues were covered in this month’s American Consequences magazine. That might well be worth a read.
There was slight confusion (or deception) in a FB response to Part One over as to whether I was promoting or demeaning actual education. Actually, it appears the commenter failed to even read what I wrote before commenting. Some are so caught up in their vested interests in the failed system that they will never willingly admit the existence of any problems. Nor will they readily accept solutions, especially of the freedom-oriented variety. That’s a problem, but it’s not mine. It’s not yours.
Also, the solutions I present, above, are not one size fits all. However, I think they beat the one size fits none approach most kids are forced into otherwise. At least there are multiple solutions. Pick one. If it doesn’t work for your family, then pick another. I understand there is considerable resistance to any real change. By and large, the people do not like truth, freedom, or options. In a way, this series is for the caring minority. So be it.
And, for those few, know that the road won’t necessarily be easy. The options I showcased are all cheaper per student than the US public school average student expenditure. However, even if you only shell out $1,000-$2,000 for a superior education, you’ll still be coerced to support the failed local schools via tax theft. Fixing that, and there is a fix somewhere, is a subject for later.
And we’ll be getting to later, sooner or later. Thank you for your early support of the C.F. Floyd column. I aim to keep the ideas coming. Tune in and read them - unless you’re a student out for the summer. If that’s so, then for freedom’s sake, enjoy your free time!
Fellow Terry College of Business (UGA) grad Brother Perrin Lovett is a true renaissance gentleman & scholar. A recovering attorney, he's into guns & cigars, and the US Constitution. A published author, Prepper columnist & YouTube personality, and an acclaimed blogger, TPC is very proud to have our old friend on board as the C.F. Floyd Feature Writer of National Affairs.
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