As a result, many children were schooled at home. The modern home schooling movement is a recalling of these earlier days, modernized with home schooling curricula, Internet access and activities for children, such as sports, which bring them together for social activities. Although teachers' unions insist that parents are not professionally-trained teachers, the results of home schooling are incontrovertible. Home-schooled students perform much better on standardized tests than government-schooled children, have higher college admission rates, and report greater satisfaction than those in public schools (Williams, 2007). A recent Gallup poll found that 75% of Americans favor public schooling. A similar Gallup poll, taken in 1985, found that 75% were against home schooling. In the intervening years, the continued decline of the public school paradigm has changed American minds.
Charter, Magnet and Other Schools modified way to introduce vouchers, or school choice, is to create charter and magnet schools. The founding idea is to create a school to which parents will want to send their children. These specialized schools can offer specific focus, such as music or science, or can be backed by a religious denomination (although not necessarily be a religiously-affiliated school). Public school systems can also create magnet schools. These schools also have a long tradition: Boston Latin, Brooklyn Science and many other magnet schools boast high standards and long waiting lists.
One benefit of both charter and magnet schools is that they focus on excellence, rather than coercion. By accepting those who truly want to be there, rather than those who are required to be there, the students are in an atmosphere where learning is the primary goal.
Another, perhaps unintended, side benefit of such schools is their smaller size as compared to regular public schools. Since 1940, the average size of a school district has grown from 217 to 2,637, a 12-fold increase. Many studies done during the period have demonstrated a consistent result: smaller is better. In fact, the larger the school district, the more is spent on administration and less on teaching. Student results are better in smaller school systems (Ehrich, 2007).
This paper has covered two important concepts in explaining the failure of one set of paradigms, and the rise of another set. The memes used by national and state teachers' unions, despite frequent repetition, are finding less resonance with parents and students. Public schools are clearly failing in their mission to educate primary and secondary school students, and the old paradigm of forced public education and obligation to send children to a school dictated by the School District is a clear failure.
Parents, industrialists and some teachers are urging an even older paradigm: democracy. Our Founding Fathers imagined an electorate of educated and informed citizens, and found that education was central to achieving democratic ideals. Dewey and others expanded the concept of an educated community being the bulwark of a democratic society.
As the extant compulsory education paradigm proves untenable, parents and others are reaching back to an earlier paradigm, which involves reasserting community involvement. The new memes for these paradigms include choice, informed electorate and results. This new set of memes is in direct opposition to teachers' unions and their political supporters, and therefore meets with significant opposition. If our society is to remain independent and democratic, the new set of memes and paradigms will win out over bureaucracy, requirement and poor results.
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