Public School Frustration

My frustration with public schooling has boiled over.

First Day of SchoolYou should know that I have always been a vocal proponent of public schooling. In our view, public school is part of the social contract that binds our country together. My wife and I have been active participants in our kids’ education and I am currently the PTA President and in the past I have been VP and treasurer.

You should also know that I think the teachers and administration at my children’s school are fantastic. They are involved and care about the students. But their hands are tied because of regulations, common core, and testing, along with the constant scrutiny that they are under. Those things trickle down to the children. And I see it in the faces of the students and those that work in the school.

At the moment, I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and, in a sense, waving them like I just don’t care.

My second grader is in school from 7:50 a.m. until 2:10 p.m. and my fourth grader attends from 7:50 a.m. until 4:10 or 4:45 p.m., depending on the day. When they come home from school, I oversee their lengthy homework assignments while trying to cook supper and hold back the little brother who just wants to play with his brother and sister, whom he hasn’t seen all day. I also need to squeeze in after-school activities, sports, and what’s that one thing that I can’t remember… oh yeah, playtime. I am at the point where I just don’t care about their homework anymore. If they haven’t grasped something during the 40 hours they sit in a classroom each week, then they should try again another day.

With all of the homework and testing, I’m throwing in the towel. I give up.

Everyone is under too much pressure, including our children. The joy of learning has been replaced by the fear of failing – failing a standardized test. The first two-thirds of the year is dictated by the stress of the upcoming tests, and the last one-third is spent dreading the test results. It wasn’t always like this.

This is why more and more parents are fleeing public schools and sending their students to private schools or homeschooling. My wife and I are seriously considering homeschooling our children because we are so frustrated with how teachers in public schools are being forced to educate children. If we do leave public school, it will be with heavy hearts. Because of public school, my kids have learned so much that we couldn’t teach them (about other cultures, religions, how to interact and learn from people unlike themselves) and we have been engaged in our community in a very unique way.

I’m not sure yet what we are doing, but I wanted to vent a little and see if there are other parents that share my sentiments.


  1. My 10 year old is in public school. My 5 year old is in a Catholic preschool and the 2 year old will go to the Catholic preschool as well. The boys go to the private school solely because it works into our schedule and finances better. We’ve been nothing but pleased so far at the public schooling my daughter has gotten, but we’re not as in tuned to it as you are. Maybe ignorance really is bliss? The rule of thumb at her school is ten minutes of homework per grade, max, or stop sooner, if the frustration sets in. So if my 5th grader has been doing homework for 50 minutes, then she should stop and talk to the teacher about it the next day. We’ve not had any homework battles and she’s doing really well. *knocks on wood.

    1. That’s great that it is working out for you. Most schools do have the 10 minutes per grade and our school has tried to implement that rule. Some days it works out that way. Not often enough though.

  2. My kids haven’t begun school yet and I already have anxiety hearing all of the horror stories. Not to mention the new way they teach math and talk about cutting out how to write cursive! I had a hard enough time with math when I was in school now I have to learn all over again to be able to help my kids learn and do their homework. I also have major, major concerns about “common core” I don’t understand the importance of testing our small children and spending so much time worrying about learning for the test instead of what is really important. I have major concerns sending my children to public school and wish financially we didn’t have to be forced into it. There has to be a better way!

  3. Jason and Cara….our kids are in a private school, which we absolutely love. The atmosphere is much more family oriented, and we all for the most part share the same values and outlook on life, and our children. But, in saying that…I agree the testing is crazy! Dominic(our 3rd grader) worried for 2 weeks about the Iowa National tests that he is doing this week. Michael (our 6th grader) studied 4 days for a Social Studies test and still got a “D” and that is with modifications due to his learning disability. Our kids are in private school, but they are still held to the state standards. He also had a map to do as homework which he spent 1 1/2 hrs on, the night before his national testing day! We are thinking of getting him a math tutor for the summer, because even though I was strong in Math, I can help him due to the “new’ way of learning equations. Coming from one with 3 in school, it is tough!!!! Good luck with your decision. Call us if you have any questions!

  4. We are homeschooling and loving it. My wife and I are both attended public school ourselves, and I always assumed we would send our kids there. So, it’s quite a reversal of opinion for us to go the homeschooling route. We don’t regret the decision at all.

    Also, you made an interesting comment: “Because of public school, my kids have learned so much that we couldn’t teach them.”
    I just wanted to raise the question of why you think this. Why can’t you teach them these things? Also, what makes you think you have to be the only teacher? We are finding that there is a wealth of resources out there that are not parents and not schools.
    Unplugging from the system can feel a little scary and intimidating at first, but liberating after you take the plunge. You seem like an invested and involved father who cares deeply for his family. I am confident that you’ll find a way to thrive without the benevolent rule of the scholastic overlords.

    I’m not trying to be a homeschooling crusader here. I just wanted to offer some encouragement from our brief experience in homeschooling. It’s not just for christian fundamentalist weirdos anymore.

  5. I am a public school teacher in a Brooklyn High School.
    As you note the schools themselves feel pressured to perform and that pressure gets passed down.
    Anyway, that sounds like an awfully long day for a 4th grader.

  6. I was right were you are. I wanted to support public education. I really tried, but at some point just realized that the benefit no longer outweighed the cost. Most days, my child came home overwrought and under inspired. I really believe kids need time to explore, tinker, daydream, build, run, etc., more than what is allotted during the school day anyway! We are in our second year of homeschool. It was a scary leap, but I feel it was the right one for our family. Our days are more relaxed. We focus on “school”, but we also meet with friends, go on field trips, and do, well, whatever else comes up. We are all happier for it. Best wishes in finding a happy solution for your family.

  7. 8-5 for your 4th grader? Is this classroom time or time away from home? After school clubs?
    That amount of classroom time seems unreasonable for all involved. I have always supported our public schools and work in the public school system now. We chose private middle school/ high school at the time because the administration and teaching staff were publicly disrespectful of each other. There are many resources to teach “cultures, religions, how to interact and learn from people unlike themselves”. Please research home school resources in your area. I’m sure you will find the support you need to make this a viable option.

  8. Hi, I know i’m late to the conversation, but take a look at this site if you haven’t already:

    They are a group advocating for the right to decline taking standardized tests, steps for follow up and other helpful information. Perhaps this will provide a solution for the upcoming school year.

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