Why I Chose Public School

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The pros and cons of different types of schooling options for kidsI just completed school registration for the last time ever. For 18 years, I have completed this process through its evolutions, from one child all the way up to three, and then back down to one, and all within the same public school district.

School choices are complicated. My husband and I both attended public schools, in a day and age when choices were far more limited. We attended a private university and went on to earn graduate degrees. Valuing education guided us to purchase a home in a highly rated school district, for resale value should we choose another schooling route.

From the beginning, our philosophy has been to consider all options every year for each of our three children, according to particular needs at that time. All three have gone through our district’s public school since kindergarten. Our youngest will be a senior in the fall, our oldest just completed his undergraduate degree, and our middle child will begin college in the fall, two years after his high school graduation. Our children have been well prepared for their futures, and we have no regrets about choosing public school.

We Chose Public School for Academic Reasons

We continually chose public school for academic reasons. We value a good education and preparation for the future real world. Public school has offered unique educational experiences for our kids, with a variety of opportunities. Our district includes additional help to on-level learning to accelerated course work.

publicschoollearning

My kids are varied in their learning styles, giftedness, and interests. Public school has offered a variety of choices. Our children have been able to take coursework on career tracks toward their future. They’ve had the priceless experience of an education built on collaborating with a range of other students, under the tutelage of many different educators.

We Chose Public School for Emotional and Social Reasons

Parenting for the long game is a challenge within the demands of the urgent and mundane. It requires great intentionality defined by long-term goals. Adaptability and coping skills are highly valued in this little family culture my husband and I have been creating. Public school has given our kids the chance to live and learn in environments with diversity and with unique challenges.

We’ve learned a great deal about the balance between adaptability and advocating. At times, we’ve had to coach our children to submit to various authorities over them. This has been done in the context of balancing individual needs with the good of community. Our family has learned to navigate the public school system, contribute to the greater good, resolve conflict, and advocate when the system should be questioned or held accountable.

We Chose Public School for Deeply Personal Reasons

At the core of our family is our faith, which informs every decision we make. Public school has afforded our kids the ability to initiate relationships and build community within a diversity of cultures and beliefs. We’ve enjoyed community with people who don’t look like us, think like us, or believe as we do. These relationships have strengthened our faith. They have allowed my children to both build and own their faith, in answering the questions of why they believe as they do. Public school has taught lessons about the big world we live in, as we’ve come to know, respect, and care for families from all over the globe. Their time in public school has equipped my kids to move toward, serve, and love others, as they’ve gained insight to living out their own beliefs in a much bigger world.

public school classroom

School Decisions Are Ongoing and Imperfect

I believe every school option includes both positives and negatives. At times, we’ve reconsidered and re-evaluated our choice. As age-appropriate, we’ve included our children in the dialogue. Bullying from peers, brutal cut from sports, and classroom issues have become forks in the road. Each time, we’ve strategized together about how to proceed and revisited our school choices. We’ve collaborated with other parents, coached peer relationships, and at times, confronted educators and administrative toward resolutions. At every turn, we continued to choose the path of public school as the best fit, albeit imperfect. Within it all, the challenges have emphasized a family motto: “No experience is wasted if there’s a lesson learned.”

We’ve made our schooling decisions year by year, child by child. We’ve sought not to choose the easiest way, or the environment perfectly tailored to each of the children. Instead, we’ve tried to choose the best fit within the context of the entirety of their lives and future to come.

The truest sentiment I wish to convey to every mom reading this is that there’s no “one right answer.” Inherent in motherhood is a striving to do the best we can with what we know at each turn for each of our children. May we each hold the space sacred for each other to choose, refusing to allow school choices to divide us.

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Heather has called the Fort Worth area home since 1994, after growing up an Army brat and preacher’s kid. She’s married to her college sweetheart, Chris (Sic ‘Em Bears). Chris and Heather are parents to three – Collin (1999), Cooper (2001), and Caris (2004), and they're officially gaining a daughter, Elizabeth, after Collin's August 2022 wedding. Heather is the co-founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, the Adoptee Collective, which exists to be a healing adoptee community who revolutionize the systems that impact them. In 2017, Heather created a network of college care packing parties, called Box Club. She has also authored and published multiple books, available on Amazon, and she finds joy in using her gifts, time, and energy toward her life goal to finish empty.

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