Exploring Alternatives to Public Schools

Exploring Alternatives to Public Schools (image)

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mom’s Choice Awards®.

Rose Rennar
Mom | Writer

There is a lot of conversation about the state of public education right now. It is underfunded, dramatically understaffed and teachers are overworked and underpaid. As if it was not hard enough, teachers have been given rigorous direction on curriculum leaving no room for them to create inventive lesson plans or allow for lessons directed at different student’s way of learning. Instead, they are given a blanket curriculum that leaves many behind in the end.

Last year alone massive budget cuts left Kansas teachers leaving the state in droves, which left those who stayed and the students lacking the help and attention necessary for a proper learning experience. Kansas had to hire substitutes and allowed teachers who were not yet fully certified to fill the empty classrooms.

This is one of many instances across the states that has proven that if our teachers are not treated with the respect they deserve and are not given a living wage to teach our next generation of scientists, authors and artists that we will have no future. Parents are scrambling to understand how this happened and how they can help, but this isn’t something that has happened over night. There has been a gradual shift in the Board of Education’s funding and priority, which is very apparent in the skills gap, which many attribute to not getting the proper education through high school and college to be ready for the workforce.

As a mother and granddaughter of an English teacher this has left me with a less than ideal opinion about the public school system so I began researching ways I could take this into my own hands. What I discovered are some very real and surprising alternatives to traditional public schools. I hope that this helps you in navigating the choices available to you as it did me.

Green Schooling

This is one of the most intriguing, exciting things I discovered. Green Schooling is dedicated to not only a higher standard of teaching but a sustainable one. It is comprised of teachers, schools and curriculum that includes lessons in sustainability through their three pillars: environmental impact, human health, and eco-literacy. It is a move in the right direction to addressing the importance of each person’s impact on the earth and a great initiative. These are still public schools, so if you are looking to steer further away KIPP may be right for you.

Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)

This is another wonderful program. There are KIPP programs from grade school up and all of them are dedicated to an excellent education that prepares each student for college in the future. Statistically KIPP students complete college at a higher rate than the national average and four times the rate than student from low economic backgrounds which makes up 88 percent of KIPP students.

There are 200 KIPP schools right now in and in the District of Columbia with nearly 80,000 students and the professionals they hire for the classrooms are treated as such. KIPP emphasizes the reality that without great teachers there cannot be great schools and they invest in further training. If this program seems to good to be true, it might be. The program is centered primarily on the east coast. If there is not a KIPP school close other options will have to do.

Waldorf Education

At first glance I thought this was going to be some intricate wizardry camp for kids where everyone dresses up in their best cloak and talk all things science fiction for the summer but alas it is actually a school system that is dedicated to creating a space of learning through experience, not just reading books and hearing lectures. The goal is to help students learn in such a way that they are not simply memorizing facts but to intellectually think about the facts and assimilate the information.

This school of thought does not place emphasis on competitive testing or academic placement but rather on freedom in education. For many this kind of education may be too loose of a curriculum, but I really liked how this route of education gave the teachers and the students back the creative spark that is missing within the public school arena now. Waldorf Education is not available everywhere either but there are many schools all over the world.

Virtual Public School

The idea of a virtual school with the public school curriculum excites me. All of the tools are given to me and I have the opportunity to teach or hire someone to teach these things in a way that would best benefit my child. Each student receives all the materials necessary for the school year, including textbooks, science supplies, DVD’s, workbooks and a whiteboard right to their doorstep.

Homeschooling has never even been an option for me. I would not want to trust my daughter’s education in my hands completely. I am sure there are many things that I have forgotten or really never cared for that she may love or are necessary for her to excel. Virtual Public School is not homeschooling. Virtual students still have to adhere to attendance and testing as any other student would, and the public school district is still responsible for the student’s success. The parents just have a better idea of the curriculum and can spend more time assisting in their success.

It is extremely unfortunate that our education system is in such a disarray that these suggestions are even necessary. Staying aware of the issues and choices made that affect our school systems and our teachers is something we should all be doing. Let’s lead our children by example. Knowledge is power and with that knowledge we can affect positive change. Until that time comes these alternatives are an outlet for better education if it suits your specific needs.

About Rose Rennar

Rose Rennar is a proud parent and passionate writer. She has worked for local media outlets in a wide range of areas, from sustainability and health and wellness to beauty and motherhood in both online and in print media. When she isn’t busy freelancing, writing or editing you can find her in her garden, being a goof with her many pets and family or at a desk somewhere toiling away at her own fiction writing. You can follow her recent adventures as well as updates on new articles on her Twitter.

22 Comments on “Exploring Alternatives to Public Schools”

  1. I used the K12 highschool public virtual school due to my daughter being bullied. It was wonderful! She even was able to graduate with a cap and gown with others in the program as well. My heart broke every time she went to school and was bullied. She would hide in the bathroom and call me to come and pick her up. This was such a wonderful alternative to have and saved my daughter from a lot more grief.

  2. I wish my parents had looked into these options. I really didn’t like public school at all. Many of my friends were homeschooled because we were competitive athletes, but my mom really didn’t like that idea. I don’t think she knew there were so many different options though.

  3. Good info. Our oldest just went in to kindergarten and we had looked into some other options but were not aware of everything you mentioned here.

  4. Many people don’t realize that public school isn’t the only option. We are a homeschooling family and it has been the best decision we have made.

  5. I really will be looking into some of these alternatives, I had no idea of all the other options out there..thanks a lot.

  6. I did not know about all these alternatives. My sons went to Catholic schools. He won a scholarship to the University of Miami (Flirida) and subsequently graduated from the University of Texas (Austin) summa cum laud end is actually working in his field. The middle son transferred to a public school for his senior year. He was struggling in Catholic school, but when he transferred, he said everything was a repeat of his Junior year at the Catholic school. He worked full time and still made good grades. My youngest son transferred in his freshman year. What a difference. Not only in the number of students, but in the teaching itself. When I tried to talk to teachers, they didn’t act like they were interested in what I had to say. I have two granddaughters who were home schooled. One is 15 years old and one 18. The 18-year old just started community college. They also toured the world for a year with their parents. What an education that was. Only time will tell the comparison, but I think it will be favorable.

    I don’t blame the teachers, just the system.

  7. I didn’t realize there were so many alternatives out there! We have a great public school system where we live so I never looked into anything else.

  8. I am a Nana of a 7 year old girl, My Daughter just told me yesterday that the kids at her daughter school had to share there reader because they didn’t get the funding this year every child there own book

  9. I understand about teachers underpaid, not able to be creative, having to follow a rigorous curriculum. I have not heard of some of the schools. I was impressed with the Green School. I just wish they could come up with a idea that is better not only students but teachers too!

  10. My brother-in-law is a 5th grade teacher. He was just awarded the Golden Apple award, I agree that these teachers work hard every day and don’t get paid nearly enough….. sometimes they pay out of pocket for the supplies in our classrooms

    1. Wow, congrats to your brother-in-law, Tammy! Yes, we know of lots of teachers that are always paying out-of-pocket for classroom supplies. Very sad!

  11. Thank you so much for the information. I know many people that homeschool but I would worry that about the curriculum and whether they are up to date with their non homeschooled peers. I really like the idea of virtual public school.

  12. Thanks for the info. My husband and I haven’t been happy with the public schools. I was completely unaware of virtual schools…will be looking into that asap.

  13. I am so excited about finding this article. My husband wants me to home school because he does not like public school at all yet I am hoping to go back to work instead of home school. Knowing that there are alternatives is a huge help! I will be showing this article to him tonight!

  14. Thank you for posting. I’m currently looking into alternatives to Public Schools for my son. I’m not at all happy with the Public School he is currently attending.

  15. Thanks i love learning about new programs and ideas,our public Schools are certainly now what they once were,these are great alternatives.I really liked the Green Schooling.

  16. My best friend is home schooling her second grader. We are both disappointed in our local school system.

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