I want to reiterate, I'm jumping in the discussion because it originally started out in the learning at school forum. So PLEASE keep this mind! I don't mind debate, I'm trying to be respectful and polite, and it's just a really interesting topic.
There were some questions that people posed to me pages ago, and I thought I might answer 'em.
Someone wanted to know how the concept of public schooling was democratic. It's a Jeffersonian ideal. Thomas Jefferson was a big champion of public schools, as a means to give everyone* (see asterik below) without the econonic means otherwise, a chance at an education. Those with the means were already able to educate their kids. With education comes liberty. Here's a quote that I like: Worth and genius would thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and completely prepared by education for defeating the competition of wealth and birth for public trusts." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813. ME 13:399.
I think it's still a worthy goal within the public sector to be able to provide education to all. No matter how many of us here end up choosing something different for our kids, I think there will still always be kids who will need public school. For that reason, I feel it's important for us (being my family, anyway) to be part of that process. For those of you who aren't going to school and are still active in that process, I wholeheartedly commend you. I know that for me, realistically, I can't see being that involved with the system unless we're actually working in it. I'd also imagine everyone here is hoping to raise their children to be well-adjusted, happy-healthy members of society, regardless of what means we choose to get there. I just feel a certain responsiblity to try and build on something, to give something back, for the common good above and beyond that. As I said previously, though, L's well-being is my central concern - so I wouldn't keep doing something that I felt was not beneficial for her.
As for the whole "socialization" debate, you certainly won't get that argument from me that kids should go to school so that they can go through bullying, peer pressure, etc. I am hoping that with all of the attention placed on bullying, at least, that schools will be more pro-active in this regard. I want L to always feel like she can come to me and talk to me, without fear of me downplaying or belittling her concerns. I do think that, overall, school is just a microcosm of our society and our society's values. If you're raising your kid to be mean, or to value consumerism and conformity, or to denigrate intellect, well, that will show up at school, and it'll show up outside of school.
*That wouldn't have originally included African Americans or Native Americans. One of the many contradictions and hypocrisies of one of our "founding fathers."