Normally I don’t fret much about what the public schools are doing. It’s Not My Problem; I’m keeping my kids out of the public education system because our family values are a little (ok a lot) too far left of center for them to be well-served by a public school of any stripe, and because I believe its the best thing for them as individuals. I have a lot of resources and this is how I choose to spend them.

But this week TWO friends have been essentially forced by their children’s public school systems to pull their kids out and homeschool. These are bright, creative, good children with idiosyncratic learning styles or developmental arcs. In both cases, the schools were insisting that these kids be diagnosed with and medicated for serious psychiatric disorders and/or learning disabilities. In both cases, the school’s assembled teams to meet these children’s needs. They invited the parents’ in for meetings. They made plans to help these children succeed in a mainstream classroom. And then in both cases the schools failed, spectacularly. They did not follow through on their commitments, they criticized the parents and children, they broke laws and rules to cover their own asses and communicated horribly.

And finally said, “Look, we can’t educate your child.”

I’m not a detractor of mental health treatment in general, I just think its easy for it to slip its bounds, especially with children, as today’s NYT makes abundantly clear.

From where I’m sitting this looks like what the pundits are talking about when they say our school systems are failing. These kids were both lucky enough to have parents who are home during the day and can homeschool them. But they are going to have to do it on their own dimes and at the expense of their own careers.

What I’m really building up to here is that while I get the argument that school voucher systems are bad because they further impoverish the education system for those students left behind in public schools, I wish there was some way the state could help carry the resource burden for kids who are not being served by the public schools.

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