Public education is an incredible concept when you really start to think about. Any child who lives in our country has access to a free education. There are many countries where this is not the case and children stay home because their parents cannot afford the school fees or required school uniforms. I feel so grateful that my children have access to an incredible public school. Our teachers are dedicated, caring and true masters of their craft. The school is warm, welcoming and parents are encouraged to get involved–and they do! My husband and I chose to live in our neighborhood because it was known for its excellent elementary school. Many families that I’ve worked with in my 13 years in education do not have this same experience. Many are actively seeking out alternatives because their local schools are overcrowded and low performing.
As a mom, it breaks my heart to think of the inequality that exists in education today. The difference a zip code can make to the life of a child and their ability to attain a rigorous and well rounded education. For this reason, I proudly support charter schools, magnet schools, pilot schools, and traditional public schools. Despite what critics say, there are many people like me who simply support and advocate for all types of great schools. I don’t think most parents care what “type” of school their child attends so long as it’s providing a wonderful educational environment for their children. I support the school choice movement because all children deserve great schools. Charter schools are indeed public schools. Charter school teachers are credentialed and highly qualified. If a charter school does not meet or exceed state standards, it is closed down. The charter is revoked during the charter renewal process. The same cannot be said for a traditional public school that is failing to meet state academic standards. Year after year and decade after decade, many children have no choice but to attend a school that is–in a word–failing. A simple google search for public schools will quickly illuminate the data. You can look up any school’s academic progress by going to your state’s Department of Education website.
What can we do about this? As parents and educators, we can stop the attacks and divisiveness. We can roll up our sleeves instead and use our organizing power to advocate for better schools. We can VOTE in School Board elections. Yes, that’s right! Voting can and does make a difference. We can rally our friends to vote for the leaders we feel will best represent our kids and our schools. We can reach out to community partners to help support our schools. Corporations often have foundations attached that are eager to build relationships with local schools. We can support our teachers! Reach out and volunteer our time to support the work they do each and every day in their classrooms.
Even if your child is lucky enough to attend an excellent public or private school, do not think that this issue will not impact you. The children who attend our nation’s schools will one day grow up and become our leaders. The next generation of doctors, teachers, lawyers, researchers, writers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business owners are counting on us to be their advocates. We all have a stake in ensuring that education in our country becomes a top priority!