Becca Swanson, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Growing up in public school, I was the teacher's pet. I enjoyed homework, studying, and learning in general. I idolized my teachers, and felt happy in a school environment. So it's no surprise that I went to college to become a teacher. My first day of student teaching, I stepped into my assigned school and smiled. It just felt right.
A decade and many schools later, my views have changed dramatically. I now have two children, still work as a teacher, and am firm in one decision: when their time comes, I refuse to send my children to public school. Here's why:
1. Discipline - My children would be assigned to an elementary school with legendary discipline problems, behavior issues, parental uninvolvement and routine violence. A teacher's day revolves around gaining control of her class, with academics coming last.
2. Bullying - There have been two recent violent incidents (within this school) in which students have been physically assaulted, requiring hospitalization. One supposed reason for the assaults was that a victim was a quiet, smart girl who liked school.
3. Failing schools - As a teacher, I realize it's difficult for poor, urban districts to exceed academic expectations on state report cards. However, when my kids are assigned to schools on "academic probation," I refuse to send my children there.
4. Changes - I loved school as a child, but it's naive to believe school is the same now as it was then. I could send my children to public school, hoping they have the same positive experiences, but it's different now. Many schools have cut their arts programs, teach to the test, and don't plan field trips, for starters. Expectations are lower, and kids are not held to the same standard. I want something better for my children.
5. Values - Public schools have fallen victim to special interest groups that want to promote agendas - this is seen through cafeteria advertisements, political bias, refusal to discuss certain topics or holidays, and slants taken in textbooks. Whether it's about sex, politics, morality, history or other issues, I don't feel that public schools have my children's best interests in mind. I want my children to learn my values and morals, not the values of Organization XYZ.
6. Disadvantages - Having worked with public, private and even home schools, I've taught in a variety of educational systems. Though every group has pros and cons, I've found that students benefit more from small class sizes, individual attention and a positive atmosphere. Unfortunately, many public schools I've seen have growing class sizes, minimal personal attention for students, and low staff morale. I want my children to have the best opportunities and love school, and I don't see that happening at a public school.
7. Priorities and politics - Budget cuts are often necessary; however, while making cuts, the private schools I've worked at have the best interests of the students in mind. It is within the public schools that you hear of art, music, computers and P.E. being cut completely, while the sports program is untouched. It is there that unions do things to protect incompetent teachers, while students get the shaft.
As a teacher, I'm thankful for the variety of teaching experiences I've had. Through them, I've learned what I want for my own children, and how and where this must happen. I don't yet know whether I'll send my children to private school or begin homeschooling, but one thing I do know is that I refuse to send them to public school (words I never thought I'd say).