Let me just preface this blog post with a disclaimer. I am in no way judging anyone for the decisions they make in regards to their kids' education. I will judge you for wearing socks with crocs or putting your toddler in a tiny speedo, but not for this. There are so many variables that affect the decision to choose public, private or homeschool and being a parent is hard on the easiest of days and darn well impossible on the hard ones. Just like the debate that always seems to rage on regarding working moms, I honestly feel that parents do the best they can and decisions they make are personal to their particular family situations, since this is my blog I am going to share why our family made the choice that is working for us. Now, that being said, on to the story…
A few weeks ago I was sitting at Chick Fil A watching the boys play and catching up on some reading (translation, listening to other people's conversations). I literally cannot help myself. Eavesdropping is one of my top five favorite pastimes right after creeping on people via the interwebs. Anyway, these two ladies were discussing some incident that happened with one of their kids, I missed the first part because it takes forever for us to convey Hud's super elaborate "Chick o way" order, so I'm not sure what the actual infraction was, but the mom happened to mention, "I think he learned it from so and so… they are some of our Public School Friends."
It wasn't said in a particularly snarky way, just rather matter of fact and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for weeks. It is literally consuming a large part of my daily think time. Public School Friends? Is this a thing? I had no idea! After my extensive thinking and endless discussion with Matt about this issue, I've decided to not be offended but I would like to offer you my explanation about why our family is happy to be your Public School Friends.
Matt and I didn't choose public school for any of the stereotypical reasons. It wasn't because it was easy, in our neighborhood, or "free". We didn't choose it because we are both products of public schools and consider ourselves to be relatively high functioning adults (on a good day). We didn't even choose it because it is my life's work and every day I see the blood, sweat and tears teachers put into your average school day. It certainly isn't because we believe that public education is perfect… hold on while I stop laughing. We chose public school for our kids because in our hearts we believe that public education is making them better people. Period.
Now, that doesn't mean that we deposit our children in their tiny chairs on the first day of kindergarten and say see ya in thirteen years. We made a commitment to challenge our boys' teachers daily so that they will in turn challenge our children. We hold them to high standards and demand that they do the same with our boys. We send them imperfect children, full of insecurities and flaws and expect them to adapt their skills, personality and resources to fit my child's particular needs…times 22. In short, we expect a lot. Sometimes public education falls short. Sometimes it completely misses the mark. Guess what? My kids go to a fantastic school in a "bad neighborhood". I have no idea why I put those words in quotations because that's truly what it is, I guess it just felt right at the time :). My kids see someone get arrested at least once every couple of weeks while sitting on the bus at a red light. As a parent, I understand why this is not the choice for all families. Sometimes public education lets us down. But we won't back down and our expectations never waver.
Here's the thing, just as I believe that public schools are making my children better people, I believe that public education is made better every single time my kids walk in the door. And yours, and yours, and yours too.
We talk to our boys a lot about iron sharpening iron and I believe that it applies to this situation. I expect my children to be the standard in their school all while expecting their school to both hold them accountable and lift them up to that standard. It's a tough balancing act, but to us, worth the effort. So my friends, I can't guarantee that one of my children will not teach your kid their first curse word or moon them while jumping on the trampoline in your backyard (because I will never be a fun enough mom to let us get one) but I can guarantee that we will do everything in our power to make sure you are never ashamed to proclaim that so and so learned it from the Hill family, your Public School Friends.
Bonus! This blog post has a theme song! I fell in love with this song when Connor was in kindergarten and it really speaks to the way we feel about the sending our precious boys out into a sometimes scary world.
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