At my back to school luncheon this year, we were asked to fill out a sign that said “I love public education because…” and take a picture with it. At first, it took me a minute because reading that sentence “I love public education because…” seemed abstract. Who doesn’t love public education? And then upon reflecting, I realized that currently our public school system is under siege. Each day, whether it’s a conversation at the grocery store, on the news or as high up as the current administration in the Oval Office, public education is being undermined and I for one, cannot accept it. So let me tell you why I love public education…
I love public education because all students deserve the best. Public education does not discriminate against disabilities, race, sexual preference or ability level. Public education does not push away students who underperform on assessments. Public schools accept all students, as they are because every student deserves to have the opportunity to learn. Learn how to read, write, add, subtract, learn how to interact with others, learn of far away places that they may one day go to, learn of jobs that are available if they work hard. As we say in our Kids at Hope pledge each day, “all students are capable of success, no exceptions!”
I love public education because public school teachers are superheroes. Seriously, they are some of the most selfless, caring, dedicated people I have ever met. Because see, to teach in public schools, where you interact with all students, you have to be all of the above and more. Reality is some students come in needing extra love, extra support, extra attention. And in public education, they get it. Teachers come in early, stay late, work at home to plan lessons that will challenge students, shape students, provide students with opportunities to be successful, to build independence. Public school teachers wear many hats, filling in as the nurse when a student is hurt or sick, counselor when they need to talk, janitor when there is a mess, cheerleader when students are about to give up, and so many more. While most you see won’t be wearing a cape (unless it is spirit week), they are definitely right up there with Superman in the superhero ranks.
I love public education because it is just that, public. The communities where public schools were built years ago are bursting with culture and history. The buildings may be older and worn but they tell a story. If the bricks could talk, they would tell of students’ parents and grandparents prior and the education they had. The sidewalks would speak of the struggles and protests of people past, who fought for the right for all to have a quality education. Walking into a public school, I feel welcome, included, even if it’s not my own or my children’s schools. This is the public school way.
See, I am a public school teacher. I work with our youngest learners, coming from all backgrounds, multiple abilities and cultures. I am a product of public school. From kindergarten to 12th grade, I received a public education and I am thankful every day for it. More than just academics, it taught me tolerance, acceptance, compassion, grit. I learned to work hard and help others. Now, my own children attend public schools and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a choice and choose public school and it is my hope that you will too. In an era of vouchers, private schools, charter schools, online schools, I know that it can be difficult to decide what is best for your student, for our students. Please consider the above and stand beside me as an advocate for our public schools. We need you!