Why Public Schools Are About More Than Education

by Martina Chavez
Martina Chavez

Creating communities seems to be on the forefront lately. There’s a community for exercise, a community for friends, parenting communities, and religious ones too. While all of these communities are wonderful to be a part of, I can’t help but think we are neglecting our biggest, most needy community. The community that has been and continues to be one of the most influential places for our children to grow… The public schools!

While I may be a bit biased — I’m the daughter of a public school special education teacher, a public school graduate and a current employee of the public schools — I can’t help but praise them and the employees who work there.

As so many of us already know, public school teachers are completely underpaid for the amount of time and effort they put into their classrooms, their schools, and their students. No, this is not a piece on that. That topic deserves its own FULL post.

Instead, this is a think piece, or a call to action to all of the parents and families who feel the public schools are not worthy of educating and teaching their children. I am asking you to reconsider this notion. Where did it come from? Why are you hesitant to send your child to public school?

Maybe you had a bad experience when you were in school. Maybe you heard a secondhand story from a friend. Maybe you feel your children will not be given an adequate education. Whatever your thoughts may be, I’m asking you to think past them, to challenge your beliefs instead of placing those thoughts onto your children.

The public schools are the biggest, most honest depiction of your local community. They are inclusive to all. They do not reject children based on gender, sexual orientation, or ability level. Public schools strive to create the best, most inclusive learning environment for every single student.

Your local public schools employ your community members who have dedicated their entire lives to serving children. These educators are true professionals who work tirelessly to create meaningful lessons that help children grow, think, and achieve their deepest desires. Your local public school teachers have completed at the very least, four years at an accredited university, earning a Bachelor’s degree. And many did not stop there — many continued their education earning Master’s degrees and special licenses, because a lifelong teacher is also a lifelong learner.

If you are really wanting to be a part of a true community, your local public school is the perfect place to start. By law public, schools must offer a free and appropriate education to every student within the community. That means that no child is turned away based on income level, disability or academic performance, which isn’t always true for a private school. This is so important because it ensures that every child within that community is given the same tools for success.

Additionally, public schools directly teach students the values of compassion and caring for others, based on the diversity that is seen in the daily population of public school students. Although these skills may also be taught in a private or home school setting, they will most likely be indirect lessons as a result of tuition fees, class sizes, and the inability or choice to not service children with special needs.

When children are placed in classrooms with peers that look, think and act differently from themselves, it immediately turns into a learning experience for them. It allows for children to ask questions and work jointly with other students to find common solutions.

I know so many public school teachers who appreciate all of the well wishes that come at the beginning of the school year, but what better way to show your appreciation for your local teachers than by allowing them to teach your children.

As parents, I think a lot of us want to keep our children in a safe and secure bubble that we have complete control over. While it may be good for our wellbeing as parents, it does not allow for our children to fully grow into well-rounded little humans. Instead, it only allows for growth within the confines of our own biases and partiality.

So I’m asking you, let’s really create a community this school year. Meet the families in your local school community, talk to the teachers, and maybe volunteer some of your time if you are so fortunate to do so.

What a wonderful community we could create if we invested in ALL of our community’s children instead of just investing in our own.

P.S. To the mommas and families out there who tried the public schools and it just wasn’t the right fit for your little person, I feel you and I completely understand. What works for one child does not work for every child, but there is beauty in trying things, instead of just dismissing them.