Public Schools – Worth a Look

by This is Carrie on February 19, 2009

It coming upon that time again – Kindergarten Registration. Which means it’s time for me to make a plug for public schools once again (one of the few subjects I’ll devote more than a couple of sentences too).

“If You Care About Your Child’s Education, Don’t Send Them to Public School

When it was time to enroll our oldest daughter in Kindergarten, the loudest buzz in my town was saying “don’t even think about sending her to public school”. This was not a premise I was willing to accept without some personal research. With a little persistence, I found a small but determined group of amazing parents who were working hard to rebuild the public school system’s bad reputation and replace it with hope. They strongly advocated parent and community involvement in the schools. They also encouraged parents who were deciding where to send their kids to school not to base their decision solely on the “talk” regarding public schools or the rating or test scores, but invited them to actually step inside the public schools (including their neighborhood school) before making the final decision.

When I followed that advice and began touring various schools, I had the opportunity to talk to teachers, principals other parents with children attending public school, and I decided public school was the only way for us. I mentioned it briefly before, but Princess now attends our local public elementary school–a school that from the outside, does not have a good reputation or test scores and it gets only 4 out of 10 stars on “”. In fact, when people find out where she goes to school, I get one of two responses – either “so sorry you didn’t find out how bad that school is before you enrolled” or just a stare of complete shock. No one actually believes we made an informed choice to send her there. While it’s true her school is struggling in some ways, we have found a whole community of parents who truly care about their children and have only been impressed with the teachers, principal and the education Princess has received so far.

And so, I have become a huge proponent of public schools — even the struggling ones with poor test scores. I do not believe that we have made any extraordinary sacrifice in the quality of our daughter’s education (in fact, there have been countless unexpected benefits she and our family have realized by attending our neighborhood school). I truly believe that making an investment in the local school is an important investment in our community’s future. I often hear people lament the current state of our communities (I hear the world is going to hell in a hand basket, you know). But it seems to me that sending our children to public school and then getting involved in their education is an easy way to contribute not only to your own child’s education, but also to help other children who may not have the same opportunities in their home as our children do.

I don’t mean this post to pressure or guilt anyone into making the same choice we did (okay, maybe a little pressure wouldn’t be bad). I realize each family has different circumstances to deal with when making education choices for their children. But, with Kindergarten registration going on all over the country, I challenge all parents out there to actually step into your local public school. Sit through a class, talk with the teachers, speak to the principal about your honest concerns. You may be surprised. But at the very least, you will be starting a dialogue that will help bring hope to the public schools, instead of simply smearing them with a “lost cause” mentality. I also think these discussions can help you sort through your ideas of what a “good education” means to you and your family.

You may even realize you have the time, energy, resources and desire to invest in a not-so-perfect school, recognizing that even the modest efforts of individual parents will go much further toward fixing our public schools than waiting for the government to get the schools back on track.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

bethany February 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm

As someone who taught in three different kinds of schools (public, private and charter) during my years as a professional educator-I wholeheartedly agree!! I’m glad to not be the only voice advocating public school!!


Cheryl February 19, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Couldn’t agree more! I’ve always been a supporter of public schools (and always will be).


Who needs sleep? February 19, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve taught in public schools for almost ten years and have seen how great a public education actually is. You get out of it what you put in as with anything else in life.


***Patricia Linehan*** February 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Amen! Parent support and involvement is HUGE in the public schools. Seeing various schools during my college course work, it was very apparent when you were at a school that wasn’t supported by its own community compared to one that was (no matter the neighborhood– some of the “best” schools definitely weren’t in the “best” neighborhoods, but they had parents, kids, and teachers who card).


***Patricia Linehan*** February 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm

err.. “cared” rather. Sorry.


Kelley and Rhett February 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

i’m a product of public schools, and it’s totally comes back to parental support and each kids determination. Thank you for an awesome post!


Jane February 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm

You know I *love* this post and your support for public schools. If you read the test scores for my school you might be disappointed, however, if you sat in Mrs. K’s kindergarten you would be hard pressed to find a better education anywhere in the United States! Awesome, loving professionals abound in our public schools and we are held accountable to near impossible standards every day. That is why you have knowledge of our test scores. Many private schools opt out of testing and having their stats made public.


Amy @ Literacy Launchpad February 19, 2009 at 9:12 pm

A very interesting read. My son is 7 months old and I constantly go back and forth in my mind about whether I want to homeschool or not (for educational reasons). And we live in a wealthy TN county with a pretty highly regarded public school district.

I was an education major, and I also have friends and family that are teachers. What I see and hear worries me when I think about my son and his education. I don’t like the idea though, of saying, “this system doesn’t work for me!” and simply abandoning it. It seems awfully selfish.

Thank you for getting me thinking about it more (from a side of the argument that doesn’t often get defended). I definitely have some researching to do!


sarah February 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm

This post is really great. Public schools need more parents who think like you.


Mama Krit February 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Our kids shouldn’t be judged based on test scores and income. So many parents would think poorly of sending your kids to low income schools. However, my mom taught in these schools, by choice, her entire educational career. She loved them. Loved the atmosphere, the challenge, and of course the parental support. Public schools have the potential to be amazing. If only we spent a little more money on textbooks instead of building yoga centers in prisons….hmm…


The Facks of Life February 20, 2009 at 4:26 am

Three cheers for public schools and parents who get involved with bettering them and educating the uneducated. Great post!


Kathi D February 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I admire that decision so much, and Princess is certainly a sterling example of how well a child can be educated in a not-quite-perfect public school.


Shannon February 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm

I was listening to a program a few months back on NPR about which children receive a better education. Public, Private, Charter, etc. The conclusion was that parental involvement was the most important factor in a child’s education.


The Rauths March 9, 2009 at 11:52 pm

my siblings and i are all products of OC public schools — Northwood Unified School District and Newport Mesa Unified School District. We all graduated top 10 in our high school classes. Our colleges were: Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown and SMU. If we are in CA when we have school-aged kids, we’ll be in the OC (well, certain areas that is) for the schools. i will say that our parents were very involved and available to us but we are all driven people on our own. the schools had great parent support, community spirit and breadth of classmates.


Wendi April 17, 2010 at 8:14 am

I love public schools too. I have taught Family and Consumer Science to jr & hs students and see so much value for them. California may have some hard times ahead but with parent envolvement and a positive attitude whole communities grow. Communities need to support each other and learn to live with each other which is one of the best parts about public schooling.


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