Michael Strong, a serial founder of charter schools, has written a concise blueprint to educate a child for less than $3,000 per year. It’s worth your time. I found it through Isegoria’s posts on the essay.
I managed to hit all three of his performance metrics in a conventional private school that cost much more than that, and I’m confident that his method is many multiples better than anything I’ve seen a contemporary private school teach.
The other key that parents should keep in mind is that plenty of private schools have a student body that’s morally dissolute — and we should expect that dissolution to be much worse in the next generation. The high cost is also a major factor.
A year at a top high school for most middle class families who won’t qualify for financial aid often exceeds $40,000 per year. That’s more than enough to seed a business or just to maintain the family assets. It also means that your kid will be associated with a lot of high-achieving dope smokers, sluts, and irredeemable nerds whose parents can afford tuition.
What’s key is in teaching superior skills in reading, writing, arithmetic, and some sort of practical art with real world value. The cost comes from hiring expert tutorial help, which should be within the range of anyone earning a lower middle class household income or better:
Twenty-five dollars an hour buys an excellent tutor (or academic coach) in most parts of the country. Many graduate students or retired people would be glad to teach a well-behaved, motivated young person for $25 per hour. Two days of mathematics coaching would thus be $50 per week; another two days of humanities (reading, writing, and conversation) coaching would be another $50 per week. At one hundred dollars per week one can buy thirty weeks per year of personalized academic coaching for $3,000.
Whether it requires more or less than this to educate your child depends on his or her motivation, your own skill set and time, and your local talent pool. Your child might need more hours of contact time per week, you may be able to supplement tutors so that your child needs less contact time, you may find great people willing to tutor for less, etc. In an alternative model, the parents may provide 100% of the instruction until secondary school, at which point you could budget more than $6,000 per year for custom secondary instruction.
By means of creating joint lessons with other home-schoolers with children interested in similar subjects, you could hire tutors for small “classes” of students and share the costs. Thus if there were four students engaged in a given set of lessons/tutoring sessions your $3,000 would stretch to four times as many contact hours. Indeed, in some cases these informal tutoring arrangements can result in the creation of a “private school.” The point is not whether or not it is a school – it is whether or not your child is getting first-class, personal attention from a talented and caring educator who knows and loves their academic subject.
The more fundamental point is that by means of focusing on truly essential core behavioral characteristics, such as responsibility, motivation, politeness, etc., and on very high-level core academic skills, including serious reading, writing, and mathematics advancement, it is possible to provide a superb education for your child at home for very little cost.
To the extent that we still have the liberty to provide this sort of education to our children, we ought to use it as much as we can.
As if playing low bid wins poker: “I accept your bid of $3,000.00 per year and lower you to $1,000 or less a year.” Cost is the same for each kid (n) in line: ~$1,000/n. For example, with 4 children starting when each child is 6 years old the cost per child is $250.00 that first year. It gets better, except for the cost of toner and paper and an occasional new printer/copier there is no cost for the rest of the 12 year course as it is a one time cost for the family. Yes $1,000.00 per four kids per 12 years or circa $25.00 per kid a year.
No Joke. Here is how:
Math: Find and obtain the Old Saxon Math Books from Arithmetic through Calculus and have the (preferably) “moderately bright” to “bright” self teach himself.
Verbal and Science: Obtain the Robinson Curriculum: .
Supplies needed: Copy machine & paper, and a quiet place to work circa 4 hours a day at most for at most 12 years.
Robinson Curriculum: http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com
Thanks for the link.
I agree with the above Saxon math and Robinson homeschooling program recommendations. I am also aware of a homeschooling center in Watauga, Tx that might be a beneficial model for some. They sell homeschooling texts, teach what the parents choose not to, and provide mutual support as a community for the kids and parents.The link is below.
The Practical Conservative says
This roadmap is ok (not great, but ok) for a household with one or two children of above average IQ and no special needs and very strong self-directed wills. This is, needless to say, not the median conservative homeschooling family or even the median conservative private-school-attending family.
And that’s separate from the logistical issues of where all these tutors are supposed to come from and be available at the hours needed, and what the household income situation needs to be to administer the other logistical aspects.
For example, other homeschooling parents are all too often very very very reluctant to partner up and split costs on paying actual staff for small classes. The reasons range from shame about their tenuous financial position to an individualistic view that it’s not really homeschooling if anyone other than mom or dad does every scrap of the teaching to even pride issues over someone else coming up with an outside the box solution. They are also very reluctant to pay for childcare when the family size is large and care is needed for the ones younger than school age so the older ones can hear and follow any tutoring or teaching.
I would also note that the 3k is clearly a starting point (he says as much), not an ending point. So this essay is misleading about total costs. To do homeschooling right to the specs listed for a family of 4-6 children, that would run about 10k/year every year on the low end. For more kids, double the amount. And I’m assuming a SAHM and some free or cheap mother’s helper/relative care access and not having to pay full market rates or for full time care (even though most intensive homeschoolers do pay for full-time care for the youngest ones in larger families if they can’t get a relative or neighbor to “help out”).
This was a good link post, thanks for posting it, it was interesting.
Thanks for the counterpoint. No kids here yet, myself, but I’m very interested in being ready for it.
Mark Citadel says
Good practical knowledge for the here and now. I learned a lot from it.
Fame's Blond says
Any ideas on what to do with a dumb kid? These ideas pertain to bright kids. But what about a dumb really cute girl that you don’t want to get pozzed by schools? A really social one.
I’m not sure. You’d have to ask someone with experience doing this.
How dumb and how old? Are we just talking “bottom 50th%”, or “bottom 5th%”? If you expect her to someday get a job, then you’re probably looking at the same basics as everyone else, just slowed down or simplified. If her chances of genuine independent living are slim, then that’s a tougher call; I don’t think there’s any good reason to make children miserable by trying to force them to learn things they fundamentally can’t, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from instruction, especially in specific skills.
In a fundamental sense, I think the parent generally knows their own child best, and so is in the best position to muddle through.
As for the pozzing, in my experience, once they grow up and leave home, pozzing tends to happen anyway. I know a bunch of people who were homeschooled as kids, got to college, and turned into raging SJWs. The only one I know who hasn’t gone over completely is, actually, a kind of dumb female, who instead promptly got pregnant and dropped out; last I heard there’s something wrong with the baby but she won’t tell anyone what. So I guess “here’s how birth control works” would have been a good lesson.
Practical conservative made some very good points. I do not know about average or below average kids either. My kids are now out of HS and were not home schooled. They struggled in school. I think the on-line tutors or local tutors are a good idea. To get the most bang for the buck something like Khan Academy can be used followed by using a tutor to get the kids ‘un-stuck’ when doing home work.
Some random thoughts.
I have been told from a couple sources that common core type ideas have spread well into many/most private schools as well. This includes the very expensive private high schools. I have no support for this statement.
Key boarding skills are good to have..However, I assume computers in education are a worthless distraction until proven other wise. A monkey can point and click. Young people use computers mostly for social media, on-line gaming, and porn. IMO playing music on a recorder is more beneficial to young people than computers. IMO opinion students should learn at some point to write code, as one way to teach one way of thinking.
My sampling of educational programs on computers is VERY out of date. When I was looking long ago, IMO, almost all of the math programs were crap. They were worse than flash cards. Quarter Mile Math was OK. I would hope that the programs have improved.
My son benefited FANTASTICALLY from an on-line Spanish tutoring service, which then cost around $12/hour. It required use of a computer on the internet running Skype and having a head set microphone or equivalent. Video was optional. The service was speakshop.org. His tutor was Milvia Vásquez. Most of the money goes to the tutors, mostly women. it helps if someone can tell the tutor what topics to cover that week if the child is in a Spanish class in school. This would be great for homeschoolers of any age, or adults as well. The on-line scheduling might be a model for other on-line tutors.
Khan Academy seems very good to me, and provides some reports to a third party (teacher/parent) if desired, or so I understand. The short lectures would hopefully grab and hold the attention of even average students. For advanced students some of the Massively Open On-line Courses (MOOCs) fro Coursera or EdX etc. would be great.
I suppose that I should give information on real world experience with education. I graduated from high school in 1959. Before I was finished I had another 13 years of education eight of which were at an Ivy, science and math. My wife also has a science doctorate and taught at three colleges and universities. Our son was born when I was 37 and I was 50 when he was taking plane geometry in high school which was about thirty four years after I had the course. About six weeks into the school year my wife and I went to the parent-teacher meeting. We met the geometry teacher who pretended to not remember our son who usually was well liked by his teachers. When home I asked my son what was going on in geometry and he said that the course was just more algebra and that the class was having a hard time with it so the teacher was just going over the same lessons repeatedly and the teacher could see he was bored. I checked out the text book and discovered that there was no real course of Eucledian geometry but watered down linear geometry and some analytical geometry. One could see that he was being short changed.
At that point I decided after talking with my wife to give him a supplement in math. I made a deal with him (a bribe) to get him to do a math program while in high school. I had discovered the Saxon books in an article I first read in the National Review. I bought from the publisher: Algebra 1/2, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Advanced Math, and Calculus. Over the next 2 & 1/2 years my son did about 30 problems a day, six days a week and finished all of the books. In the beginning I helped him with an occasional problem but toward the end he rarely if ever needed my help. The problem sets were recursive as concepts covered early were not dropped but from time to time re-asked in the problem sets. In all of the thousands of problems he solved there were less than five that neither he or I could solve.
Did it help him? Hard to tell with only one data point but today he is Ph.D mechanical engineer and rocket scientist.
p.s. My math training in high school was problems, problems and more problems all four years. College math was a snap because my brain had been trained to solve math problems through repetition. Saxon math books do the same thing.
That’s a solid testimonial.
Another free resource here: allinonehomeschool.com