I read an excellent book at the beginning of the summer and have to share! It’s called Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, and it was written by David & Kelli Pritchard, Christian parents of 8 children who have all attended public school. I realize that this might not be for everyone, but lots of Christian parents I know send their kids to public school, so this may be of interest to some of you. Laurie talked a bit about this book a couple of months ago when she announced on her blog that they are moving from homeschooling to public school, and you may enjoy reading her post about it, too.
We made the decision quite a while ago that our kids would attend public school. We live in a great school district, and though I received an excellent private school education, I spent several years working in public schools in the StL area, and I felt really comfortable with the quality of education our kids would receive in public school. Plus, we have made the choice to have me stay at home with the kids; if we chose private school, I would definitely have to work, and for us, that was not worth it. Homeschooling is also not a choice for us, so public school it is (and, as I’ve stated above, it’s not entirely by default; I feel good about the boys’ school)!
We have had a pretty good first two years in our local public school; there was a hiccup last fall, which I won’t go into here, that caused us to reconsider our choice and investigate some alternatives (i.e. pricing private school, talking to an administrator I know in a neighboring district), but in the end, we decided to stay in the same district. Had I read this book before that event occurred last fall, I know I would have felt more empowered to deal with it appropriately. Sorry to be vague, but it’s controversial and I don’t want to go there. All of that to say: this book is so worth the read.
The authors and their children, who comment on their own at the end of the book, are not critical of homeschooling or private schools. They simply believe, for many reasons, that public school is the way to go for their family. I loved this explanation as to why:
As they engage the culture and interact with a diverse crowd of people, they come to see how the world functions, what leads to success and what is a dead-end street. Personally speaking, we would much rather have the Pritchard clan work through this process while they’re under our care, hearing our perspective, seeing how the Word of God explains reality and morals and maturity, than to have them start the process when they’re 18 years old and 500 miles away living in a university dorm. We want to be close to them during this critically important phase of their lives.
The Pritchards outline lots of real-life experiences their children have had in school, and how they dealt with them. I found those particularly helpful, because even parents who are proactive about their child’s education are going to have unexpected circumstances crop up, and they need to be prepared to discuss and deal with them when they happen. The authors also debunk the myth that the reason Christian parents send their kids to public school is so that they can preach the gospel to their classmates. They say, “The main job for a Christian child or teenager in public school is simply to be a good student, a good citizen, and a servant-leader – to model what Christianity actually is.” Couldn’t agree more.
Of course, like any book, I didn’t agree with absolutely every point of view. For instance, we go to a church that has an incredible infant-high school education program on Sunday mornings, so our kids don’t worship with us except for about 6-8 Sundays a year. (And don’t get me wrong; having kids learn how to sit through a service and listen is important to me, too; we go to church as a family on those Sundays when the kids don’t have class, and our expectation is that our older boys will participate as fully as they can.) The authors disagree with kids attending class instead of worshipping with their parents every week, saying that parents cannot abdicate this responsibility. However, there are people dedicated to teaching my boys the gospel on a level that they can understand, and we are doing our part at home, too (not just relying on the Sunday School teachers), so this part just wasn’t for me.
Anyway, if you are considering public school or have kids already in public school, I’d highly recommend this book! It’s a quick read, and you can buy it on half.com for not very much.