Never in my life did my teacher lose my homework; and never did one fail to report my last semester’s grade.
Incidents like that happened regularly to our son at the high school he was attending. Fed up, he took a particular test, passed, and legally left high school as a sophomore. Now he’s enrolled in community college at seventeen. Here’s what happened.
After having been homeschooled from preschool until eighth grade, Chet went straight into ninth grade classes in our district’s public high school. It made no difference that he’d never been in a classroom before. He got As and Bs.
His sister read more books in 5th grade in my book club than he did in two years of public high school.
One of the reasons he wanted to go to high school was that he thought he was behind. It didn’t take long for him to realize the contrary; he was ahead. He read The Catcher in the Rye , a book assigned in tenth grade English, when he was a tween in a parent-led homeschool book club.
Although he wasn’t used to taking tests at home, it wasn’t hard for him to learn to: fill in a bubble, take pop quizzes, or write responses. His difficulty was keeping track of his paperwork and assignments, but he figured that out quickly.
Another reason he wanted to go to high school was to make more friends. Unlike our eldest who had more guy friends homeschooling high school, there weren’t enough kids around for our second son. Being extroverted, meeting people in high school was easy for him, despite the fact that he was a minority both in race and class. The kids were friendly.
At one point, I suggested to him to take photographs of his homework as evidence that he’d done the assignments. Both his English and Spanish instructors repeatedly lost them and then told him he had to redo them.
I have some strong sentiments about the public school he attended. Basically, I think it isn’t working for about seventy percent of the student body. I’m not saying I’m against public schools. I’ve seen plenty of kids who’ve worked hard in them and gone on to attend reputable colleges.
Our son really enjoyed playing varsity soccer there. He loved his AP World History class and said he learned a lot in it. Establishing a blog, learning Photoshop and the Final Cut Pro movie editing software were highlights for him. His field trip to Pandora, the live-streaming music headquarters, to hear from the owner how he started the business, was probably his favorite learning experience in two years at his high school.
Not all the staff was complacent and apathetic. In fact I was in awe of how hard some of the teachers and principals worked. I don’t know how they had the energy to work at a crisis level seemingly every day. I wondered how they managed to care when so much of the student body clearly didn’t.
The institution wasn’t run efficiently. So much money wasted! Our son brought home $300+ text-books for Math, English, Chemistry and Biology. When I asked him why he never read the books, he said his teachers didn’t use them. When he was an aide in his computer class, he repaired hard ware students intentionally broke, brand-new Apple computers donated to the school.
The main reason he told me he wanted to leave his high school was fear that he was succumbing to the prevalent attitude of “do nothing”.
It wasn’t all bad; but it was a waste of his time to sit at a desk for seven hours amidst chaos and disorganization.
Can you imagine presenting in front of a classroom with no one listening?
Try writing down an assignment when it’s too loud to hear the teacher’s directions.
Picture being assigned to a work with a group where it’s the norm for the other members to do nothing, every day.
When he began, he told me he wanted to have a ‘high school experience’. When he wanted to leave, I reminded him of that and he said, “I’ve had it.”
Terribly bored and frustrated: he took the California High School Proficiency Examination, “CHSPE“. Passing that test gave him the equivalency of his high school diploma.
After two years in community college, he plans to transfer into a four-year college. Many of the classes he will take at community college will count towards his undergraduate requirements at a four-year college.
Admittedly, we never offered the option to attend a private high school. We couldn’t afford both that and a four-year college. Honestly, we didn’t want to spend anywhere from $13,000 (parochial) to $35,000 (college prep) per year for a private high school in our area. And, we knew another way to handle their education cheaply.
His older brother took the CHSPE and attended community college and not high school. According to him, he had some great professors (even one with a PhD from Stanford) who taught him how to write essays very well. He had access to advanced math classes for his Civil Engineering major. Class sizes weren’t too large. There was little disruption during lectures in advanced classes. He made friends with people from China, Russia (in math classes) and Africa (in soccer).
The truth is: having our boys attend two years at community college saves us about $112,000 at a four-year college. Arriving as juniors, they have to complete only two years to get their degree (in theory). We are doing what is financially feasible for us. At the same time, they are in control of their education.
I ask my readers: did we cheat our boys out of having a high school experience? I don’t think so. They opted out themselves. As parents, we provided our second son with another option and change when he needed it. We felt that his staying in high school would’ve held him back from pursuing his interests. Now he is in charge of his learning, with our support;-)