We Don’t Need No Education
Posted by shanamaidel on July 27, 2008
The state of California has announced that they have been botching their numbers for the dropout rate from high school. The numbers are much higher than previous years. The travesty is level high: One quarter will not matriculate.
All of this may seem somewhat pointless on a Jewish blog, except for two points:
1) As a community, even if we choose not to send our children to public school, we are still responsible for our fellow human. To know that a quarter of last year’s potential graduating class is missing is disturbing, especially considering that taxes are levied to make sure that everyone who lives in the state is educated. To abdicate our responsibility to 25% of the state’s high school students is a shandah fur de goyim.
2) I’m not a betting woman, but if I were, I would assume that among those counted as dropped out, although not labeled in the report as such, are the now illegal homeschoolers. This matters in the Bay Area, where Jewish education options, especially intensive Jewish education, are severely limited, especially compared to areas like New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Homeschooling was an out of this precarious situation in the Bay area, but since it was declared illegal, parents in the bay area, particuarly with teenagers, are now left stranded if they want to provide their children with a quality Jewish and secular education (as they define it).
If you cannot educate in the public schools, would you let your kids “drop out,” so you could homeschool them? When I see these numbers, I wonder what my options will be for a rigorous, pluralistic, halachic (in the orthodox sense because I am), comprehensive Jewish education, and a comprehensive, broad, and rigorous secular education. As a comprehensive secular education means exposure to “the world out there,” which often is seen in a public school. Meanwhile, a comprehensive Jewish education is often one in an enclosed world, where a person is encased in tactile Jewish experiences and Jewish texts.
I feel for parents of sixteen year olds when I see these numbers. Education is something all encompassing, from a day a child is born, done out of love, to share where we all come from. Choosing a school, an educational path reflects past values.
And it seems the state of California is going to make a tough call for Jewish children in the Bay.