Tonight was the Pops concert from the Concord NH High School. We were packed into the sweltering gym to listen to kids from every performing music group in the school gave us their best.
Once again, I marvelled that these kids do so very well. I am so glad that the public schools here haven't yet pulled the plug on the music and arts programs. When we left California, it was after watching the schools being systematically gutted of all the so-called extras (except, of course, football and the like). We were able to game the system somewhat and get our kids into magnet schools where they were able to have some of those extra opportunities, but so many parents did not have the savvy or the persistence to try to get a good education for their kids from the public schools, and they also did not have the money for private school or the resources to home school. When we moved to Oregon, the process of gutting the public schools was just beginning, and we were still able to get the kids involved in music and arts and so on. But we could see the budget cuts coming.
Part of the problem is that the funding for the public schools rests basically on one tax, the property tax - and the structure of property taxes was such that with the rapid inflation in housing values, families were being taxed out of house and home. But the property tax 'reforms' had the unforseen side effect of moving the funding for schools from the local districts to the state budget. Hence no more money for 'luxuries'.
Also, there is a tendency for the childless to resent paying for the education of other people's children. It is part of our fallen human nature to be selfish. But I cannot think of a better use for my property tax than to pay for the education of the future citizens of our country. And I want there to be local control and local accountability for the content and nature of that education.
I never homeschooled, but I have great admiration for those who do. Mostly because they are practicing the ultimate in local control and local funding of their children's education. But many homeschoolers benefit from the presence of public education and use some or all of the services it provides. Much like homebirthers also benefit from the availability of hospital and clinic based services. It's a good thing, I think, when we recognize that we are not insular beings, but that God created us to live in families that live in communities that try to take care of each other.