Pasadena Unified offers a gold mine of knowledge
As a PUSD parent, I can attest that PUSD schools offer even more than a solid and rigorous education, they offer a gold mine of knowledge about our nation and our community.
By Jennifer Hall Lee
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, homeschooling has been booming. Homeschooling is not part of the public school system.
Popularized in the 1980s, home-schooling programs were created by private companies and offered by mail. This is mostly how home schooling is done in the United States.
The popularity of homeschooling was quickly tempered by the realization that homeschooling is time-consuming and unregulated by state school boards. If a homeschooled parent wanted to re-enroll their child in a public school, they sometimes found that the child lacked an education at the school level.
Before 2020, 2.8% of children in the country were homeschooled. In the 2020/2021 school year, 5.4% of children are homeschooled. Homeschooled children do not receive PUSD teacher benefits.
Why not PUSD?
PUSD teachers are top educators, including three with Milken Educator Awards (considered the Oscar award for teaching). This year, it was awarded to Hamilton elementary teacher Nichole Anderson. In 2012 Manual Rustin of John Muir High School won and in 2001 the winner was Joshua Tornek of Marshall Fundamental High School.
We offer Dual Language Immersion, Arts, STEM, Dual Language Immersion, Dual Enrollment with Pasadena City College, and more. The district has a strong college and careers program that offers internships with local businesses, nonprofits, and local politicians.
Pasadena Unified leads the state of California in our student offerings and we have an independent curriculum based on California content standards. Our independent study program involves parents and teachers working together because that is the philosophy of independent study. PUSD Students in the independent study program have a teacher who is a mentor to the student and works with the student part of the time while the majority of the student’s work is done by the student independently at home.
Start of homeschooling
Homeschooling outside of public education is not new.
It became popular in 1970, a year before the Supreme Court approved bus transportation as a method of integrating public schools.
Like the vouchers, homeschooling is tied to the struggle to integrate into public schools. It is also one of the results of religious movements that reject secular public school education.
Homeschooling is not an independent study program within a public school district. When a parent homeschools, they become their child’s teacher, and some states don’t even require a parent or guardian to be a licensed teacher.
More troubling is the lack of data on homeschooled children and child abuse.
Independent Study in Pasadena Schools
Accredited teachers are required in public schools. In the PUSD Independent Study program, our teachers have the opportunity to work in partnership with parents to create personalized activities for students. We also offer on-campus activities once a week for elementary students to get to know other program participants.
In our politically divisive atmosphere, many display a rejection of democratic institutions, in fact, there are people in our country who want to dismantle public education completely.
I believe that children who are homeschooled outside of a public school system are also being denied what I see as the untapped gold that ties a public school education together: learning to work with other people different from you.
The loss of public schools is a frightening prospect to me, because without them we would cease to be a nation of citizens bound by our values and instead become lone ships adrift at sea.
If you find yourself near John Muir High School Early College Magnet, take a look at the lighted banners featuring images of our recent graduates.
You will see a student body of graduates attending colleges such as Harvard, PCC, UCLA, USC, and Cal Lutheran. They are big kids.
Retreating to our homes and closing the door, to homeschool our children, only separates us from each other and contributes to a lack of interconnected neighborhoods where our children know the kids around the corner – the proverbial village .
Bring your child into the wider community by first enrolling in the Pasadena Unified School District.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a PUSD trustee.