As a PUSD parent I can attest that PUSD schools offer even more than a robust and rigorous education, they offer a goldmine of knowledge about our nation and our community.
By Jennifer Hall Lee
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, homeschooling is on the upswing. Homeschooling is not a part of the public school system.
Popularized in the 1980s homeschooling curriculums were created by private companies and offered by mail. This is primarily the way homeschooling is being done in the United States.
Homeschooling popularity was quickly tempered by the realization that homeschooling is time consuming and not regulated by state Boards of Education. If a homeschooling parent wanted to re-enroll their child in a public school they sometimes found the child was lacking grade level education.
Prior to 2020 2.8 percent of children nationwide were homeschooled. In the 2020/2021 school year 5.4 percent of children are being homeschooled. Homeschooled children are not experiencing the advantages of PUSD teachers.
Why not PUSD?
PUSD teachers are top educators including three with Milken Educator Awards (considered to be the Oscars award for teaching). This year it was awarded to Hamilton Elementary teacher, Nichole Anderson. In 2012 Manual Rustin from John Muir High School won and in 2001 the winner was Joshua Tornek of Marshall Fundamental High School.
We offer programs in dual language immersion, arts, STEM, dual enrollment with Pasadena City College, and more. The district has a robust college and careers pathways program that offers internships with local businesses, nonprofits and local politicians.
Pasadena Unified leads in the state of California in our offerings to students and we have an independent study program that is based on California Content Standards. Our independent study program involves parents and teachers working together because that’s the philosophy in independent study. PUSD Students enrolled in the independent study program have a teacher who is a mentor for the student and works with the student part of the time while the majority of the student’s work is completed by the student independently at home.
Beginning of homeschooling
Homeschooling outside of public education isn’t new.
It became popular in 1970, one year before the Supreme Court approved of bussing as a method to integrate public schools.
Just like vouchers, homeschooling is tied to the fight to integrate public schools. It is also one of the results of religious movements that reject secular public school education.
Homeschooling is not an independent study program within a public school district. When a parent homeschools they become their child’s teacher and some states don’t even require that a parent or guardian be a credentialed teacher.
More troubling is the lack of data on homeschooled children and child abuse.
Independent study in Pasadena schools
Credentialed teachers are required in public schools. In the independent study program in the PUSD our teachers have flexibility to work as partners with parents on creating personalized activities for students. We also offer campus activities once a week for elementary school students to get to know others in the program.
In our politically factionalized atmosphere, many are exhibiting a rejection of democratic institutions, in fact there are people in our nation who want to dismantle public education altogether.
I believe that children who are homeschooled outside of a public school system are also denied what I consider to be the unmined gold that fastens together a public school education: learning to work with others unlike yourself.
The loss of public schools is a frightening prospect for me because without them we would cease to be a nation of citizens tied together by our values and instead become lone ships at sea forever drifting.
If you find yourself near John Muir High School Early College Magnet take a look at the light post banners depicting images of our recent graduates.
You’ll see a student body of graduates who will be attending colleges such as Harvard, PCC, UCLA, USC and Cal Lutheran. These are great kids.
Retreating to our homes and shutting the door, to homeschool our children, only separates us from one another and contributes to a lack of interconnected neighborhoods where our children know the kids down the street – the proverbial village.
Bring your child into the full community starting with enrolling in the Pasadena Unified School District.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a PUSD Trustee.
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