I like to use what is already available, whether it’s in my pantry in my kitchen or in the larger world. One thing my family has benefited from utilizing is the free education our local public schools provide. I have been a public school parent going on five years, with two children in our neighborhood public elementary school.
I know public schools have their detractors. I attended public schools through fifth grade, and then my parents chose several different private schools and home schooling for my siblings and me starting when I was in sixth grade and continuing through high school. I understand my parents’ reasoning and appreciate all they did to provide us with good educations.
However, my experiences as a parent of public school students and as the spouse of a public school teacher have brought me to respect what public schools do. I also appreciate the vast resources public schools have versus other forms of education; I have seen the difference compared to my own varied educational background. I happily choose public schools for my kids.
Why I Like Our Public Schools
Public schools are already paid for with our tax money.
While private schools can be nice, they are too expensive for my family’s budget. Even home schooling can be costly when families are on the hook for purchasing textbooks and supplies. My husband and I don’t mind paying taxes to support public schools because they benefit everyone in the community — not just our own family. Our society is better when all of its members are well educated, and the education and extracurricular programs public schools provide are economical and a good deal.
Public schools are staffed with certified professionals including teachers, speech therapists, reading specialists, counselors, nurses, and more.
I appreciate the knowledge and skill these people have. The more time I spend volunteering at our school and interacting with staff there, the more trust and respect I have for them. Public schools typically have high standards for teaching staff, requiring them to be certified, licensed teachers and not simply anyone with any kind of college degree. I would rather take advantage of the expertise and years of training that all the teachers at my local public school have instead of trying to figure out how to teach my kids at home by myself when I don’t have training in education. Taking advantage of the public education offered to our kids also gives me time to pursue work in my field of writing and editing, rather than spending the majority of my time teaching, grading, and planning lessons if I home schooled. My oldest child took the standardized state test for the first time last spring and scored advanced in both sections of the test — in math and in language arts/reading — so I know our school is doing something right.
Not only do my children learn academics from these teachers, but these other adults also serve as role models and mentors. There are days when my patience wears thin or I feel like I’m not getting through to my kids. On those days, I am glad to entrust them for a few hours to other caring adults who are part of the village that is raising my kids. I’m glad I don’t have to do it all on my own. I like seeing my daughters interact with, be cared for, and learn from other adults besides just their father and me.
Public schools offer established, quality extracurricular programs such as performing arts and sports.
Public schools offer a wide array of activities. My older elementary-aged child is interested in performing arts and has participated in several musicals and plays at her school and at middle and high schools in our district. She learned how to play the recorder last year at school, and this year she is old enough to join the band and plays clarinet. She’d like to join the school choir when she reaches middle school. Our family has also participated in Girl Scouts and the national running program Girls on the Run through our school. My youngest child doesn’t do as many extracurricular activities yet, but she is a budding artist will have many opportunities through school.
As a bonus, some of these activities are subsidized by the school district and cost families little to nothing.
Public schools can provide exposure to people of different cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, which in turn promotes empathy and understanding.
Our school district is extremely diverse racially and economically, and my children’s school has students who are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern. Families at our school come from at least two dozen countries including China, Mexico, Palestine, Ethiopia, Iraq, and more. Some students don’t speak English when they begin attending school. Some students are Christian and some are Muslim. Some are homeless and live in local extended-stay motels. Some live in large houses and others live in modest apartments.
My children are learning that not everyone looks like them, shares their culture, or experiences the same privileges or challenges as they do. It benefits my kids to personally interact with people who are different — rather than just reading about them or hearing about them on the news. My children get their religious education from their father and me in our home as well as at our church, so I do not worry about public schools being neutral melting pots where religion is not practiced because that’s not their purpose. This cultural and racial diversity also is good preparation for when my children go out into the working world as teens and adults and interact with a variety of people.
Yes, that diversity can be challenging at times. Because our local school has a number of economically disadvantaged students as well as students with emotional issues, staff often must address behavior issues. Some parents understandably want to shield their children from negative experiences such as bullying, foul or coarse talk, or disrespectful peers, and so they choose other schooling options, but in my broad experience in a variety of school settings, I’ve learned those things happen in any school — public or private. Even home schooled kids can form cliques and social pecking orders within their local co-ops.
So for my family, the benefits of public schools outweigh any perceived disadvantages. For us, it makes sense to use this resource that is readily available to us.
Do you make use of your local public schools? What do you or your kids like about public schools?