Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Having Our Cake ... and Baking It At Home

In the news recently was an uproar regarding some comments made by Maine Governor Paul LePage. Apparently, he has warned the Legislature that, if they do not present him with a reasonable budget, he will close schools on May 1. He stated that it was either cut the school year or cut the funds designated for social services.

Now, I'm not supporting or defending LePage. He's said some pretty inflammatory things in the past, and his stance on environmental issues (including his goal of reversing many of the hard-won, pretty hard-nosed, environmental policies that make doing business here, especially with regard to developing "wild" areas, very difficult) isn't going to win him any points with me, but on this one thing, I think I have to agree with him ... and one can't even begin to imagine how hard it is for me to say that!

It's not that he's trying to take things away from Maine's citizens, but when one figures that 80% of the State's budget goes to fund education and social services, it's a no-brainer that cuts are going to have to come from one of those two areas.

As LePage stated, there's no money, and unlike the Federal government, our state government "can't just print more" (which, of course, is just a silly, over-simplification of the issue, and similar such off-the-cuff comments will prove to be LePage's legacy, because the Feds can't really "just print more", either). His point, though, is valid: we can't simply keep funding things for which there is no money.

The problem is that no one wants to give up, even a tiny portion, of his piece of the pie. No one wants his program cut. So, my question for those who are railing against these proposed cuts is, Are *you* willing to pay more (in taxes) to fund those programs you insist must be funded?, and of course, the answer will always be no.

No one wants to let go of any of their programs, but no one wants to raise taxes to keep them funded, either.

A long time ago, Deus Ex Machina and I realized one thing when it comes to our finances: if we wanted to have more money, we could either work more to earn more money OR we could spend less money than we make. We have opted to cut expenses, and some of the ways we've done so, have raised a few eyebrows, because they are unconventional - like getting rid of the television and the clothes dryer.

The government equivalent would be to increase the tax burden or cut programs. Personally, I opt for cutting programs, and I don't think it would be so very difficult to do so. Some very simple changes could save thousands of dollars per year for our government.

We homeschool, and while it's not an option most folks are willing to explore, I submit that our state and our communities could save a significant amount of money by implementing a different sort of school day. The fastest and easiest way to start would be to reduce the amount of time children are physically *in* school to only one or two days a week. The other days the children could be doing lessons virtually. Think of it as telecommuting for kids.

Here in Maine, every eighth grade, publicly-schooled student (and I wanted to make the distinction so that people would understand that homeschooled children are not eligible for the laptop program - or many other supplementary educational programs offered to public school kids - even though homeschooling parents still pay their fair share of taxes to support public education) is given a laptop computer. It was one of the last programs Governor Angus King signed into law, and while I think it's a waste of money in its current incarnation, if the State were to take advantage of the program to implement a virtual school program, it would make providing those laptops useful for saving thousands of dollars per year paid out for education.

The most obvious savings would be in fuel costs. If kids were only bussed to school two days a week, for instance, it would save $100s in the cost of fuel to operate the busses.

And different grade levels could have different days off, or have staggered school times. So, maybe Monday and Tuesday would be elementary days, and Wednesday and Thursday would be junior high days, and Friday and Saturday would be high school days. They could all use the same building, instead of having three different building for each grade group. There would be a significant savings on building maintenance and upkeep.

Support staff would automatically be cut by one-third, which would save thousands in salary and benefits costs paid out.

It's true that no one wants to cut jobs, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for anyone losing his/her job, but if those extra school buildings ere repurposed for private use and then opened to the public, the "public school" employees might still be employed, but on a private level.

What if, for instance, the lunchroom was franchised by a restaurant chain and the lunchroom staff was hired to work in the restaurant?

What if those old buildings were turned into community centers (with a cafeteria??) where classroom space could be rented by the public?

As a homeschooler, one of our biggest challenges is finding a space to hold our classes. A community center would give us that space, but it would provide space for other groups, too. Right now, I'm working on securing space to have an out-of-state speaker come to Maine, but finding a place where he could speak will be a challenge.

And today, I received a call from a young woman who is looking for a person to officiate over her upcoming wedding. She wanted to know if I knew of any places to hold the ceremony. I don't, but if our former school buildings were still owned by the town and then repurposed into a community center with space that any citizen could rent, it would not only provide much needed space, but would also generate some income for the community without burdening those who don't benefit from those programs.

Or, maybe, we could repurpose the old school buildings into retail spaces. Imagine, the old high school turned into a shopping mall. What a hoot that would be! And, if the Town retains ownership of the property that would be revenue for the Town.

There is no evidence that requiring children to be physically present in a classroom for six hours a day, five days a week, 180 days a year results in a better educated populace. In fact, the opposite seems to be more true, as, statistically, homeschooled children out-perform their peers in almost every area from academics to arts and all of the categories in between.

In a society in which we are finding ourselves more financially pinched than ever, it makes sense to think up some real, cost-saving solutions. Reducing the size and scope of our education system just makes good sense, and changing from a requirement that everyone be physically present for x hours a year to allowing them to telecommute part-time would save thousands of dollars over the course of a school year.

I know that children don't require formal lessons or classrooms or even textbooks to learn. I know, because my children are learning - mostly without any of those things.

Today, they were doing math and writing.



No textbooks. No tests. No desks. No bells to change classes. No getting up before the sun to catch a bus on a cold, rainy morning.

And no extra burden to taxpayers to transport, house, feed, and educate 180 days a year.

24 comments:

  1. This may seem like a frivolous comment to some, but I do need to ask: Do you know of a way to make line-dried laundry un-crispy?

    The reason I ask is my husband is a high-functioning autistic, and one of my sons is somewhere on the autism spectrum (doctors can't agree with where he is on the spectrum, but they agree he's on there). Like most autistics, both have very sensitive skin - in my husband's case, even seems on clothing are almost unbearable. Last summer when our dryer was broken, I hung clothes on the line, and both my husband and son had a serious issue with the crispy/crunchy feel of the clothing.

    My husband agrees that hanging clothes to dry on the line is energy efficient and money saving, but he just can't stand to wear the clothing that line dried. Do you or any of your readers have a solution?

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  2. Even in Australia I think school buildings could be put to better use. Our schools shut down over Christmas for 6 weeks and even longer in the private system. The kids go to school 9-3, 5 days per week. The rest of the time the buildings sit idle. What a waste!

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  3. But what happens to the kids who couldn't, for whatever reason, thrive under that sort of system?

    And where would you find great teachers who are willing and able to work part time?

    Because you are asking an entire labour force to take a substantial pay cut, and I'm sure any person would even have issues if their income was cut by 2/3rds.

    I really think you are looking at this issue from a position of entitlement: because homeschooling works for you, you think it's a workable system for every child in the state.

    It's not.

    It's not workable for those children from single-parent homes, who don't have anyone at home those days the schools are closed.

    It's not workable for those students who need extra help with their lessons - which would not be available with a self-study program.

    Home-schooled kids outperform probably for the same reason vegetarians are "healthier": that is what they (or the parents, in the case of home-schooling) focus a lot of time and effort on, so they do better. It's a result of the effort put in, not the system.

    I agree, cuts have to come from somewhere, by your system would result in MANY children falling through the cracks, and an un-educated populace is the fastest way to societal decline.

    As a Canadian, I don't know much about your education system, but forcing everyone to home-school is not the way.

    And I do have a personal story about having restaurants taking over food services. The university I went to had one the the BEST food services in the country, consistently ranking high in student surveys. While I was a student, the university decided to contract out (to save money, of course) to restaurants.

    The result?

    Higher prices, lower quality.

    Because once you have a third-party organization that needs to make a profit, there is no other outcome.

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  4. Loved your ideas about alternative ways to educate kids. I really liked your idea of using the same building for all grade levels. And, for input, I too am Canadian and in our school district, the only kids who qualify for a school bus are special needs students. Everyone else either has to find their own way to school. Also, field trips are done using local transit. SJ in Vancouver

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  5. @ K - Ha! I knew when I published this post that someone would come out with the argument that "it can't be done!" :) It should be no surprise to you that I disagree ... and will be publishing a follow-up post in which I address why it can, and should, be, at least, considered as an alternative to what we currently have ;).


    With regard to school lunches: The US school lunch program was created to handle food surpluses. That is, initially, all of the food that could not be sold on the open market went to feed school children. A college cafeteria is hardly comparable to what our children are fed in the public school lunchrooms, most of which can hardly be called “food.” Before lambasting me on that point, I would suggest a cursory Internet exploration on American school lunches and what they contain. As an example of what they’ve tried to label food, there’s an interesting story about how ketchup was, for a brief time, called a “vegetable” by the school lunch program, so that they could serve a dollop of ketchup with French fries and meet the “two vegetable” requirement ascribed by the USDA as a healthy meal.

    I know many two-income families and single parents who manage to homeschool successfully. Not all homeschoolers are comprised of the "entitled" classes of upper middle white-collar, college-educated, single-income families with one full-time at-home parent. We're a very diverse group, that often defies categorization. We come from all walks of life, all religious backgrounds, and all socio-economic groups, and we have a wide-ranging set of philosophies and practices.

    Anyway, it's been my experience that nothing is "not workable" except those things that we will not try to make work :). My Mom used to say "can't never could" which annoyed the hell out of me, but she is right - if we don't try, we've already failed.

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  6. I also have to kind of agree to K above...many parents are not home to care for the children on "days off" and would NOT welcome them being at home!

    Sad commentary...but oh so true. I won't go into reasons they *should* be home.

    Unfortunately I have a niece who goes to a Christian school 3 days a week. I don't think she is truly up to her grade level. No, her parents don't work with her at home, either, so who is to "blame"? Right now, she needs to be in a public school, probably in remedial classes. At least she would be up to her age level.

    I have to agree with you about "old" school buildings, even other buildings. My local city tore down a perfectly reusable hospital building, one wing of which was only 2 years old. I think of all the uses that building could have been put to. But no, they tore it down and now there is an empty lot sitting there, not making any revenue for the city, and we are in one of the highest taxed counties in my state. I really think "how stupid."

    I also agree with your comment about nobody wants to give up THEIR piece of the pie....look at the Federal Government.

    But I'm tired of paying taxes to support programs I don't even agree with, and supporting people who will not work. Not disabled, not elderly, not children, not those who are out of work but looking, but those who simply will NOT work.

    So terribly frustrating.

    Kathleen

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  7. patricialynn - some people advocate adding vinegar to the rinse cycle. Others will line dry the clothes to *almost* dry and throw the clothes in the dryer on the "no heat" setting to get them fluffed up.

    It's been my experience that clothes that are "freeze-dried" - that is line dried outside when it's around the freezing mark - will be softer. A friend of mine had an explanation - something about the fibers expanding or something :). They will be slightly damp after they "thaw", but they don't get crunchy.

    Also, clothes put on the line on a windy day, are less crunchy than clothes dried on a still day.

    I know - not much help, eh ... :).

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  8. I think it's very true that "parents" who work don't want to have to worry about what to do with their children when the kids have the day off from school ...

    ... BUT, as a former teacher, I want to make one thing VERY clear - TEACHERS ARE NOT BABYSITTERS and to insist that schools need to be open to accommodate working parents is to negate the education required to be a teacher and the importance of the job of teaching.

    The first thing we need to change in this country is the idea that our schools exist so that parents can work, because that's not the case.

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  9. Many of the high schools in my city were closed over the last year due to earthquake damage. Those schools that still had sufficient functional buildings went into a site sharing arrangement with the damaged schools. One school would use the site for a morning shift, and the other for an afternoon-early evening shift. There seem to be a lot of students who felt this was a positive experience, and found it gave them a lot more usable time in their day. The downsides were for those who got stuck with the afternoon shift who'd previously had after school activities like dance classes.

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  10. For PatriciaLynn: I second Wendy's suggestion of trying vinegar. I use vinegar during the rinse cycle of our clothes instead of fabric softener and it has worked very well for us. We live in an area that is very humid and I've noticed that on the dryer days or those with less wind, I do have to go with the other suggestion Wendy made of throwing the clothes in the electric dryer for a few minutes. Apparently the tumbling helps soften things just enough after my wash comes off the line stiff as a board; I'm guessing that the more humid days (which take longer to dry) are keeping the clothes softer due to some residual moisture during drying on the line. Of course the wind = a tumbler of sorts so that's why my windy day clothes are softer (if I can keep them ON the line LOL). I hope you can find something that works better for your family; I have a child with sensory issues and I empathize with your situation of trying to keep the clothes soft. I'm a "tag hater" myself. Tags and seams...ugh. It's not always easy!

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  11. As for the education issue - I am not a "rabid" homeschooler in that I think everyone should yank their kids out of the schools and bring them home. It's definitely not a good fit for everyone, and I appreciate that you've addressed that, Wendy.

    That said, if anyone is in a single parent situation and *wants* to homeschool, please know that it can be done. I myself homeschooled as a single mother after a divorce, and have also homeschooled as a military wife through several lengthy deployments. (The difference being, of course, that in one situation I at least had moral support from a spouse, albeit via the internet when he could actually get to it.) For further encouragement, Google Mary Jo Tate. She is a friend of mine who is a single mom who homeschools and has worked from home as a very successful editor for the entire time I've known her. I also had a telecommuting position during my separation/divorce/singlehood; that of course makes a big difference. But other options may be available, especially for those who run their own businesses. I've read of insurance agents who are allowed to bring school-age children to work with them... to do school work while Mom is at her desk and to read quietly or perform other tasks while she is with clients. Other businesses would probably be open to such things depending on the child and parent.

    Some corporations offer on-site child care. Perhaps they could be encouraged to use the schools you describe as office space with a cooperative teaching environment. 4-day work weeks for the employees + a 4-day school week for the children.... it would keep the teachers employed AND give them more time at home with their families as well. Employee work might actually be better as well in a more familial environment, as long as rules were clear that students won't be mingling in offices just because they know they can get to Mom or Dad instead of respecting their teachers' & classmates' time. Use that cafeteria to bring families together at lunch time. Little kids would glory in having their sandwich with Daddy; older kids who want to go "hang" with their friends could probably still do so, but the families could also make the personal choice of meeting together for the meal instead of age-segregation. Considering the proven importance of a family dinner most days of the week, eating together as a family for lunch would presumably benefit those kids too - and a lot of working parents too! I continuously count my blessings that I can be at home with my kids, and I know that while some folks want to just send their kids to daycare or school to get rid of them, there are definitely just as many parents who only do it because it's "what you do" in our society - our local schools actually ENCOURAGE parents to swing by and have lunch in the cafeteria with their elementary students. With the right plan, it very well could work.

    I give kudos to public and private school teachers, especially public, because they deal with so much red tape, bureaucracy, and problems that really reflect poorly on our society today. When I was a child I desperately wanted to be a teacher; when I became an adult and saw what teachers have to handle in a day, I walked away. I'm happy to teach my own as the rules are a bit different... teaching 30 children, dealing with budget cuts, parents of all walks who seem to have insane requests or are just so apathetic... and working within a system that is so clearly in need of change, but still "giving one for the Gipper" - my hat's off!

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  12. I'm looking forward to your follow up, and I really hope you address my two major points:

    1. Single parents/ parents who choose to both work. You say you know many who do it - what do they do for childcare? How does a low-income single parent with an inadequate support system pay for child care on those days that the child isn't in school? Sure, kids have days off now, but there is avast difference between one every few weeks and 2-3 EVERY week. Do you really think it's workable for every parent?

    2. The fact that you need to have a pool of educated, qualified staff who are willing to only work part time. I'm really interested on how you will solve this one, because I cannot bring to mind any profession that asks this of their people.

    Again, it's a choice you made - but it was just that - a choice. And your choice should not be forced on everyone.

    As for researching school lunches, the whole school lunch thing is a mystery to me anyway. We only had a cafeteria in high school, and there was no such thing as a "free" lunch of any quality.

    I wasn't "lambasting" you on that point - I was sharing my experience of what commercialization did to a once-excellent food program. And don't get me started on the entire USA food system - trust me, I know more about it than most non-Americans (and probably most Americans). You cannot expect to add a layer of profit making and hope to fix the problem.

    And please do me the favour of not dismissing my comments as a simply "ha, it can't be done". I see this post as you forcing your philosophy on the entire populace, and I will *always* disagree with that. A parent can be an excellent parent, without also being a great school teacher. Nor should that be expected of them. There is a reason the school system was created in the first place, mainly so that every child had the same opportunity to receive a adequate education. Not every parent is qualified to teach their children, nor would they be willing to. And you do not have the right, even theoretically, to expect that of them.

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  13. I love your idea about repurposing the school buildings. Considering the kitchen area, it could be used for indie entrepreners....folks making salsa and that type of thing. It would be a "stepping stone" for the small business person until they can afford to improve their equipment and grow their business. Also, some states (like mine) don't allow food prepared in home kitchens to be sold commercially.

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  14. I think homeschooling is great for those families where the parents actually want to participate in their children's learning. Too many children come from homes where parents barely tolerate their children's existence, and unfortunately many live in horrible situations at home.

    Those kids would fall thru the cracks if their parents were expected to provide an atmosphere conducive for learning (let alone, if they don't stop working, those kids would have no incentive to stay home and do school work, but rather would roam the streets getting into trouble).

    Instead, I propose a compromise: a small tax incentive to parent who keep their kids home (so long as the children get their yearly sign-off from a certified teacher that 'progress has been made', as homeschoolers are required to do already).

    Those kids could have access to online classes (this would allow some teachers whose jobs would be cut when those kids left the school system to continue to earn money, since they could teach the online classes).

    What this might cause, however, is a bit of a disparity between the kids who are stuck going to school (because parents don't care/can't or won't stop working to stay home and homeschool, or their children have special needs that require special instruction at the school) and those kids who homeschool and take advantage of the online classes and great homeschooling parents.

    Eventually, school would be more for the 'have nots' and special ed kids, and their diplomas will not mean as much as the homeschooled kids (opposite to how it is now, although that is changing a bit in many college institutions).

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  15. Both of my parents were out of the public school system fairly young, and were mostly self-educated. We got lots of additional home prep until about age 7, then it was "go look it up yourself" which was frustrating at the time, but it made us a pretty independent lot.

    For myself, I was mostly happy to be at school 5 days a week up through 4th grade. We were in the Phillipines for 7th grade, and school on base was morning shift or afternoon shift. I absolutely loved it.

    Beyond that, it seemed like there was a lot of crap you had to endure to get the benefit of the good parts. If I'd had a choice to sort out the good and stuff it into 2 days a week, and work from home the other days, I'd have jumped on it in a heartbeat.

    The 13 year old son of friends, who was tolerant of school, had to endure life-threatening terror daily on the bus ride. Even though both parents worked full time, he talked them into letting him home school by himself. His Dad checked all his work every evening and was amazed at the self-discipline his son so quickly acquired. When he finished his lessons, he started dinner for the family and took on house cleaning chores without being asked. Apparently daily terror is a powerful motivator.

    So, for some, I think it would be wonderful to have the option of reduced attendance. But, there are a lot of situations where it wouldn't work well at all. Imagine how cool it would be if home-school parents could take their kids to school for advanced math or science classes, but cover the rest at home. And if independent kids could shape a couple of school days around their needs and work from home on other days. Some could still attend the whole 180 days, but if a good number of students needed 0 - 72 days or so per year, and it could all be scheduled in an efficient way, it could have a really positive impact on state budgets. I have to agree with others here that forcing a 2-day school week on everyone isn't a good idea, but forcing 5 days isn't either. It needs to be way more flexible.

    brenda from ar

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  16. @ Brenda - Here in Maine, children who are homeschooled are given "open access" to the public schools, which means that I can send my children to public school for classes, like advanced math or chemistry.

    But we also have other options. Like there are parents in the homeschool community who trained as teachers and doctors and engineers - any of whom could be (and often are) compelled to teach a class for the homeschooling community. If they're part of a co-op, they do it for free for co-op members in exchange for other members teaching different subjects.

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  17. @ Brenda - Here in Maine, children who are homeschooled are given "open access" to the public schools, which means that I can send my children to public school for classes, like advanced math or chemistry.

    But we also have other options. Like there are parents in the homeschool community who trained as teachers and doctors and engineers - any of whom could be (and often are) compelled to teach a class for the homeschooling community. If they're part of a co-op, they do it for free for co-op members in exchange for other members teaching different subjects.

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  18. Talking aboutlooking for space for lecture or wedding things.....do you guys have a VFW or Legion? More and more of them will rent out at a decent rate due to the hard times and lack of membership. Just a thought.

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  19. K said, "There is a reason the school system was created in the first place, mainly so that every child had the same opportunity to receive a adequate education."

    I think this belief of yours is horribly misguided. Check out this essay by former school teacher, John Taylor Gatto. I think you'll be appalled - as well you should. We all should be, in fact.

    So far your only argument against my idea is that parents who work would have no where to send their children, and as I've said, teachers aren't babysitters and schools aren't day care centers.

    I'm not trying to "force my philosophy" on anyone. The point of this post was to suggest one possibility for saving money that would allow us the opportunity to continue to provide a "free" education to our children. If you have others, I'd love to hear them, but simply dismissing my commentary as coming from some "position of entitlement" and therefore, completely irrelevant to those who aren't a mirror image of my lifestyle is a bit disrespectful ... and then, to have the audacity to ask me to be more tolerant of your comments is a bit arrogant, I think ;).

    You can disagree with me and rail against my ideas and tell me how they "won't work", but unless you come up with alternatives, you're really not helping further the necessary work of effecting positive change.

    The current system is too expensive, and we can no longer afford to prop it up. It IS failing, and soon school doors across the country will close because communities can no longer afford to keep them open. This is our chance, perhaps our only chance, to imagine what the future of education in this country (the United States) can be, and start moving in that direction, while we still have the money and resources to make the changes.

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  20. @ Anon 7:04PM who said this might cause ... a bit of a disparity between the kids who are stuck going to school ... and those kids who homeschool.

    There's already a disparity between these groups.

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  21. I don't have a solution to your state's economic woes, since I'm not there - just as I'm sure you don't have ready answers to the issues my region faces. And frankly, I'm not interested in wasting my time to do so, nor should I have to, to be able to point out what I see as flaws in your method. I can come up with many ideas to save money, and you wouldn't have to have alternatives to tell me my ideas are wrong or unworkable.

    Example: let's close all the public libraries, sell off the holdings, and use those buildings as public spaces the community can rent.

    Yeah, crappy idea, isn't it? And you don't have to come up with a better alternative to tell me it's a crappy idea - all you need are valid reasons why it's a crappy idea. And it is a crappy idea.

    You seem to be ignoring the fact that not every parent is able to effectively home-school even part time, and that you cannot assume to have a ready pool of qualified teachers who are willing to take a substantial pay cut. And pointing out the fact that most parents assume their child will be taken care of for certain hours every school day does not equate teachers to babysitters. You cannot change the status quo for everyone without coming up with a way of making it work, and saying "deal with it" isn't making it work. Have you thought about the entire economic implications of what you suggest?

    As for arrogance: "lambasting", "rail against", etc. Maybe you want to read what you actually write? Because addressing issues in what you post is neither "lambasting" nor "railing against". I'm merely raising issues, which you don't seem to be addressing in accusing me of having the arrogance to disagree with you.

    And interesting web site - which doesn't seem to have any citations, but offers to sell me his book. Yeah...

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  22. Which begs the question: if you're NOT in my region, and my comments were directed at ways MY community could save money on education, then why are you even telling me how those ideas won't work in MY community? You’re making all sorts of assumptions about the kind of people who live here and what they would be willing to do, but you simply do not know, do you?

    The fact is that I never said my ideas should be used in YOUR community. In fact, I make a point of specifying that I'm talking about MAINE. You have already admitted that you do not live in Maine, and yet, you persist in telling me how my idea won't work in Maine, and then, when I ask that you provide some alternative suggestions, your rebuttal is "Oh, I don't live in Maine, and so I can't tell you what to do." But you presume to instruct me in the fallacies of my suggestion. Interesting.

    You admonish me to "read what [I] actually write", but it's pretty clear that you failed to read it yourself. The post is about saving money on our education system by having students and teachers telecommute. NOT, as you imply, about forcing all parents to home school. You say, teachers won't work for less money - no where in my post does it say that teacher salaries would need to be cut. You say that not all parents can home school - no where in the post does it say that the parents would be required to home school.

    Please note: teachers wouldn't take a pay cut – because they’d still be working FULL TIME as part-time telecommuters, and the parents wouldn't be HOME SCHOOLING, because their children would be working on school projects in a VIRTUAL CLASSROOM.

    As for your example of closing the public library, if your suggestion is to close the library only so that the space could be used for something else, then, yes, it’s a stupid idea, and yes, I would say as much. But if your community must choose between paying for a police department or funding the public library, it would be up to your community to decide what's more important to them, and while I might think it sad if they chose to close the library, I would never presume that the people in your community were stupid for having made that decision. When our Town Manager tried to “unfund” our public library a few years ago, my community decided that it wanted to keep our public library, and so we found a way to fund it.

    With regard to public libraries, not every community has one. There are several communities in my area that have no publicly funded library – a couple of which are fairly affluent communities. They do have a library in those communities, however, and those libraries are privately funded through membership fees, fund raising efforts and private donations. There are also several communities in my area that have no publicly funded high schools.

    I thank you for sharing your concerns, but unless you can do more than just tell me how misguided my idea is, your comments are pretty irrelevant and not helpful.

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  23. Rambling Rant in Comments, Part 1:
    Wow, I'm probably the wrong person to comment on this one! (but I shall...ha!) Aside from budgetary issues, I'd advocate for parents being empowered to have a complete change of thinking, one right in line with taking back our own power and control of our lives. I TRULY believe parents should not opt out of the most important parts of their children's lives, and far too many times we parents have been programmed to believe some assumptions...that kids MUST be in (external) schools, taught by certain teachers, "socialized" and offered every benefit, bell and whistle that's out there or we are BAD PARENTS and we're irreparably harming our offspring. Parents also in many cases don't want their kids at home, don't want the interaction daily that having the kids at home would entail, and don't want to figure out how to "do without" things "all the other kids" are doing and having. I know there are exceptions, and I've done both...I've homeschooled AND have had my daughter in public schools...and I worked while doing both. I'm for empowering ourselves to frankly understand that WE PARENTS are the ones who can make the best decisions for our own children, and I've grown to understand how much in our society parents have become convinced that other people are much better qualified to do this and that for their children...until the parent is little more than the person who provides the shelter and the night meal, the taxi to the soccer games, the emergency science project builder, weekend entertainment source, and petty cash distributor. The truth is that learning is far different than formal schooling, and it takes far fewer hours in the day to engage in really quality learning and critical thinking skills. There are vast resources out there, and options everywhere for specialization. It does NOT take vast amounts of money...people who keep pumping those numbers higher have bought into a total crock. It does take some mental fortitude, though, and it takes adults growing up, and parents BEING parents...a society growing up to something called priorities and values.

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  24. Rambling Rant In Comments, Part 2:
    I'm not intentionally insulting anyone who decides not to school at home, but I am saying it's indicative of the choices we make differently than did our great-grandparents. NEVER would they have felt entitled to things they never earned, feel they must feed into the popular culture of "best technology upgrade" or the latest "must-have." I'm not romanticizing it, either...many of our grandparents were struggling to survive. I do know they opted for participating in their own choices, though, insofar as they had choices...and they never wanted outside forces to be the parental figures in their own lives or their children's. My forbears were fiercely independent. I ask myself if we simply do not value freedom, today, because it's costly and makes us different than those who work themselves to the bone to support the precarious skeleton of "progress" and "modernity"? I'm a throwback. I aggressively believe in education...lifelong education that never ends and doesn't have to define itself by today's system. I returned to college as an adult to find my classmates could not construct a simple sentence with a subject and predicate, could not write an essay, could not write expressively, and had not been taught ANY critical thinking skills or logic. And who nudged me under the table expecting me to share my test answers...and these were adults in an expensive college. And the teachers passed them to the next one. SO disappointing. If this is the product of all our taxes and fancy state-mandated "standards," it's not too dangerous a proposition to try to take it a bit in hand as an individual family to ensure a better result. After all, the bar has been lowered, and lowered, and lowered to the least common denominator. It takes very little to raise it higher. But we MUST, even if it takes stopping everything else and rethinking our assumptions. We need to get over our hangups of all we're being told we as parents AREN'T and decide that what we ARE is enough, and good enough, and capable...and then act on that. OK soapbox at a standstill...so sorry :)

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