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My beef with public education January 11, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in Uncategorized.

My family was asking me a very valid question: if I want the older boy doing college level work, why don’t I have him take a bunch of AP classes at the local high school? Or even the local college, for that matter?

It would be so much easier if he could, believe me.

The local high school, however, won’t let older son take AP classes. He’s only in 9th grade, you see. And they are very specific about which classes a ninth grader can take, and there’s no APs on the list. In fact, his school counselor refused to let him take a web design course because he was in ninth grade, and you had to be in 10th grade to start taking it. The school rules (or perhaps more accurately, the people enforcing them) are rigid beyond belief.

Another thing I had hoped was that his college-level work could be used to substitute for his high school work so that he could receive a diploma from the high school. The school district has a policy of dual credit. But here’s the catch (straight from the coursework guide):

A college class cannot replace a required high school class (ex. English 101 for English 4).

So let’s think about this: I have a kid who, at the beginning of his freshman year of high school, took the SAT and placed above the 50th percentile. This kid has had one year of formal schooling (in sixth grade, and it was a disaster) and had taken up through algebra I via an independent study course at this point.

The school says that, despite the fact that he’s probably equivalent to someone in the top third of the senior class, i.e. someone three years older than him, he must be forced to sit through FOUR YEARS of English classes below his aptitude level to receive a degree from the school district.

I gather from this that public school has no desire to meet the needs of my child, and high school is pretty much a huge freakin’ waste of time. Socially, I think it’s important, which is why he’s going part-time. But academically, it will only smother him.

So why doesn’t he get his GED? It turns out you have to be sixteen to get your GED.

The university doesn’t like to enroll kids until they’re at least sixteen, either. However, they may be more flexible than the high school. One of our goals this year was for the older boy to take and pass a couple CLEP exams to show the university that he is capable of college-level work. If this goes well, he may be able to enroll, already having gotten a couple college courses out of the way.

But what I will ultimately be doing is something that a lot of homeschooling parents do: I’ll be making him a homeschool transcript myself. The transcript will include the classes he takes at the high school, the classes he CLEPS, and the classes he takes at the university (once he’s in). I don’t think I could objectively give grades, which is why I prefer he take classes that are evaluated by other people and they can give him grades. I would prefer he have a piece of paper from a recognized high school, but I’m not so set on it that I’m going to make him waste his time for four years.



1. Charles J Gervasi - January 11, 2011

The public schools may vary from place to place. From what I’ve seen of them here, they’re amazingly good for kids with special needs or disabilities. Kids who a few years ahead developmentally are not their focus. They’re not against these kids. Their focus, however, is on helping kids with problems. This could be a good policy overall, but I seriously wonder if Madison is moving toward having public schools only for the disabled and poor. Affluent kids will go to private schools, and middle class families will move to the public schools in the suburbs. Almost everyone in Madison likes an ideal of public schools where kids from all backgrounds come together, but I see us moving away from that.


mareserinitatis - January 11, 2011

I used have several friends from the homeschooling Mensans group that have encountered similar problems. Schools cater to the average, and most also provide services for the ones that are behind, but they usually assume the ones that are ahead will find a way to deal with things. Unfortunately this attitude is not backed up with any research: 1/3 of high school dropouts are intellectually gifted.

The problem I have with all this is that it’s utterly stupid: why can’t a ninth grader take AP classes? Unfortunately, most schools are very stuck on not letting kids move beyond their age-mates and could really care less about challenging them intellectually.


2. Luke Holzmann - January 11, 2011

Yes, the flexibility that homeschooling offers is fantastic. And it’s great that so many colleges and universities now recognize homeschoolers and parent-made transcripts as legitimate.



mareserinitatis - January 11, 2011

The flexibility is great, I agree. However, it’s also a challenge as it requires a lot more effort on the part of the parent to find what works. (On the other hand, I don’t see many school teachers doing the same.) 🙂

But to be honest, I can’t wait for the day when we can send knowledge and experience directly to our brains. It’ll be so much simpler.


3. Alasandra - January 13, 2011

My eldest son started college at 16. He was able to get early enrollment based on his ACT scores.

My youngest son took college classes for dual high school credit while I was homeschooling him his senior year. And was able to enroll in college based on the homeschool transcript I provided. No diploma or GED needed.

I have included both your post in the CoH as I enjoyed them both. Thank you for submitting them.


4. Dana - January 20, 2011

He can use his college level work to get his high school diploma from North Atlantic Regional School.


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