I want to send my kids to public school. I really really do. I want them to learn from children who have different life experiences from theirs. I want them to learn from teachers with different ways of presenting material than mine. I want them to learn to interact socially, understand and follow directions, develop tools for learning and exploring, and continue to be curious. I want them to ride the bus and go on field trips. I want them to play sports and join a team or club if they want to. I want to have some time for myself. I want to relax and know that while we are all learning together at home, each day they go to expand that knowledge while I have time to regroup and be me. I want to get back to my hobbies and reconnect with pre-kid friends. I want to have the flexibility of going to the grocery store by myself or actually perusing the library shelves without rushing through and picking up a million books to skim at home because both kids are pulling books off the shelf willy nilly. I want to try clothes on in the store before buying something. I want to enjoy a quiet house for a few minutes each day.
I believe in the idea of public education. I’ve worked in the public education system. I understand how it works and it’s goals and requirements. I understand that the system is serving a huge number of children with a tremendous variability of skills and needs. I know that the teachers are doing their best and most have the kids’ education at heart. I know there are classrooms and even whole schools where education has been preserved in the face of the testing hype. I know there is creativity to be found. I understand that managing a class of 30 kids requires some rules and regulations that may otherwise seem overly restrictive. I understand that following a curriculum to the T may not allow much time for experiential learning. I understand that educators may not have the time to read and integrate the latest educational research. I understand that teachers are limited by the size of their class, the caliber of their administrative leadership and support, and their legal requirements. I understand that in our state testing is somehow king. I understand that schools need money and can find creative ways to raise funds that may include marketing to my children. I understand that being active on the PTA does not mean that I have a say about what or how my child is learning or being taught. I understand that fitting it to the social structure of school is not always a good thing.
I understand that I am afraid.
I know that I haven’t got all the information I need to make the right choice for us. I may never have enough. I know that I still have time to consider all of the options. I know that we can always change our minds. I know that how my kids go about their learning and education can be an ongoing conversation with many different questions and answers. I am learning still that perfection and the absolutely correct decision are figments of my imagination. We will all do what is best for each of us and it will all be fine. I am breathing deeply.