Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Would You Send Your Kids to Public School?

Pin It Now! Why, as Jesus-lovin' people, do we send our kids to public school?

I am not against private schools or homeschooling. I know people have good reasons for homeschooling or private schooling their children. Our son is only in first grade and our daughter will start kindergarten next year and we will evaluate how they are doing every year. But at this point, we feel strongly about having our kids at our local, public schools.

There are a lot of bloggers who are homeschoolers, who blog about homeschooling, who offer support and encouragement for fellow homeschoolers, who share ideas for homeschooling, and feel really called to homeschool. Some of them follow this blog! I like them. I love their hearts for their children and their obedience to what God has called them to do.
(If you are a homeschooler you should check out 1 + 1 + 1 =1 blog. She is full of great ideas and used to be a kindergarten teacher.)

Maybe I don't blog surf enough, but I have not seen any blogs (they must be out there somewhere?) who offer encouragement for believers who go the public school route. This blog is not going to become a school-focused blog, but I thought I could offer some posts of insight, explanation, encouragement Christians who are considering sending their kids to public school or who have already done so.

So I will start by giving you just one of the reasons we send our kids to public school. I will post some of my other reasons in future posts and they will be done in no particular order.

Reason #1 for sending my kids to public school:
My life was significantly impacted by the fact there were Christians in my public school when I was a kid.

This is Ben Decker. He and his family came over for dinner a few weeks ago which motivated me to finally start doing some posts about why we send our kids public school.
Ben and I have known each other since 4th grade when we met at a music concert. He went to a different school, but a bunch of schools got together for a musical extravaganza. Ben and I both played trumpet. I was better than him. We kept in touch in our fourth grade ways (on the phone) and he even asked me to "go" with him. The next year I transferred to Ben's school because our love was that deep. Or rather, because we moved less than a mile from Ben's house and that switched me to his school. We stayed friends when the "going" was over (almost 6 months of going, I think). We even ended up carpooling to school. And for the record, his nanny was a bit looney and drove like a drunk woman.

(Getting our yearbooks signed at the end of sixth grade. Ben is the one about to be overtaken by my side pony tail.)

Around this time I was seeking to find out more about God. My dad was agnostic and my mom was Catholic, but not really practicing. We went to Catholic church sporadically - mostly on holidays. I went to CCD for a year. I was seeking. I went to Mormon church quite a bit with one of my girlfriends. I was interested in spiritual things. I looked at creation and the world around me and knew there had to be a God. I would sometimes lay in bed thinking about things - if this came from that, then what did that come from? And it would take me to the uncaused cause. What was the uncaused cause? I was not lonely, miserable, desperate. I was living out my dream of acting and at this point had done several commercials and print work. I had a lot of friends. But I knew there was more to this life.

It is a longer story, but after talking to a cousin and a family friend who had become Christians I decided to hand my life over to Jesus. I just prayed by myself in my bed one night. My friend, who was several years older and lived a few towns away left me with a Bible and an Amy Grant tape. Besides memorizing "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" what was I to do? Now what? I knew I could go to church with Ben.

It wasn't that sixth-grader Ben was an evangelist. He didn't particularly stand-out spiritually from all his friends - he used library books to practice skateboarding tricks like all the boys. But I knew he went to church. I knew he went to youth group. I knew I could go with him. So I did. And that is where my faith flourished - where I learned more about God, the Bible, serving others, and what it really meant to be a Christ follower. And Ben's dad (who was a widower at the time) was my Sunday school teacher so it totally overpowered the crazy nanny.

(Here we are at junior high winter camp at Hume Lake. I am in the middle with the awesome sweater and Ben is far right with the cool-guy look on his face.)

(Ben and I at high school graduation.)

I can't help but think - where would people like me be without the Ben Deckers of the world in my school?
Pin It Now!


Leigh Ann said...

Thank you so much for this post. We, too, are firm believers in sending our children to public school. I agree with you that there are not enough Jesus-lovin' people supporting this stance. I appreciate those who choose to homeschool but I don't like being looked down upon because I don't. Thanks for encouraging me and for always making me laugh!

Here is another awesome family that chooses public school...

emily @morefromthemoorefamily said...

What a great topic, Wendy! As a public school graduate (K-Masters Program) and a former 5th grade-public school teacher, I truly believe that in almost all cases, public schools are wonderful places! There are so many learning opportunities in the public school that children won't always get at home or in a private school.

PS My hubby and I are going on a trip- 9 days from the kiddos- and I can't wait for some uninterrupted time to read your book (on my Kindle). :)

Jennifer said...

I completely agree with you and is exactly why our kids will be going to public schools. I feel too that sometimes we are looked down upon if we don't homeschool, but there is good reasons for both sides.

Anonymous said...

Great post! The hubs and I haven't decided what we're going to do with our daughter & schooling. I know it's not my gift to teach so homeschooling is out of the question. Both he and I are products of public schooling and we both turned out just fine - even Christians! ;)

The hubs is a pastor and we get free tuition to our private Christian school. Should be interesting in a few years when we have to decide!

Carisa said...

Wonderful post and thanks for mentioning me! I am a FIRM believer in the idea that every family has to do what is best for their family. There is no right or wrong-we all must seek the Lord in our own unique situations.

I NEVER thought I would ever homeschool let alone love it ;-). I also know that God could have a different plan in mind for the future, we take things 1 year at a time, one child at a time.

I support all types of schooling decisions and love the way you wrote your post!

;-) Carisa

Abby said...

What a great post! I was homeschooled myself, and we'll likely homeschool our daughter (and future children) because it worked so well for me and because I liked it so much. But I don't think public school is the devil, and it's actually very important to me that our kids have friends from all walks of life - from the church sphere, the homeschool circle, *and* the public school realm. I had a lot of friends through 4-H who were much more "secular" than how I grew up, and it was a great witnessing opportunity, as well as broadened my horizons, and helped me to understand that we're all human, and really all very much the same, regardless of our professed faith. I think in the end it comes down to doing what is best for your kids and your family, based on positive reasons (i.e. public school would be good for them, and they would be good for the other kids, or homeschooling would be good because of x, y, or z) rather than out of fear or negativity ("they'll be socially awkward if homeschooled!" or "they'll be corrupted by public school!"). Thanks for the great reminder that different paths can be equally good :)

Katie said...

Love! This post! Thank you so very much for sharing it! My husband and I also choose to send our children to our local public school, we certainly hear plenty from our family and others in our church about why our children might be better off in Christian schools and/or homeschooled. Yet, we stand firmly behind our belief that they will learn to live their faith in a public school while getting what they need spiritually from us. Thanks for sharing this post!

Bert Decker said...

Wendy you write so well. I ENJOYED it, first, loved it second. Good insights. Great pics, some of which I hadn't seen. Didn't know you 'went' with Ben either. BTW I was never a widow, but I forgive you...
Your former Sunday School teacher who still loves you even though you didn't pay too much attention.

TDM Wendy said...

Widow, widower, widowette - it's all the same, right. I upgraded you to widower. And I can't believe you didn't know about me and Ben going together. Probably because we barely saw each other. Thanks for serving in Sunday school . . . even though I didn't pay too attention. Or so you thought :)

Kristen said...

Awesome! And how cool is it to think that one of OUR kids will be the "Ben" in some other kids life. I dig that.

TDM Wendy said...

Thanks all for your supportive responses. I know it can be a touchy subject.

Faith said...

I was home schooled 2-12, but at this moment do not feel led to home school our son. Now he is only 16 months old and I know that is a good bit in the future. It is however a topic that has very much been on my mind and heart for the last few months. Thanks for the encouragement!

Tina Hollenbeck said...

I'm not commenting to start a debate so I hope I come across right...

I'm obviously very happy for you spiritually...and glad that Ben stood out enough that you knew he was a Christian and could help you find ways to grow your faith. In high school, I had a friend who was obviously a Christian, too, and I even went to church with her once (and later - after I'd come to Christ in college - found out that she was praying for all her friends). Very cool.

And, if things in public school were what they were then - or even when you were there (you are younger than me by several years), I'd consider the same thing for my girls, who have had saving faith since they were PKers. I can't get over, though, that things are markedly different (i.e., much more hostile) toward Christians than they ever were before - and that the likelihood today is SO much greater that the Bens and Janices of the world will now lose their faith in public schools rather than lead others to it.

Obviously, I'm really following God's call on me...and I can only presume that fellow Christ-followers who feel as you do are doing likewise - and so please don't read judgment. But I did have to just put that out there.

BTW, I actually taught in public schools for 9 years before my girls were born - because I feel very strongly about Christian adults serving on that very real mission field (and the person God used to finally convince me to put my faith in the Lord - after lots of other seeds planted - was my high school choir director, with whom I spoke months after I'd graduated). But to me it's generally different for adults to be in that environment than for kids - not a risk for mature adults, but definitely a biggie for most kids.

The Starr Family said...

I am so thankful for your obedience to the Lord Wendy... you writing THIS very post has such impact (on me!).

My husband and I have struggled with this... only we really knew it wasn't so much a struggle as us feeling false 'guilt' and insecurity about others opinions!

In our case, we DO feel strongly about being among them, but not of this world. Spreading our fire, HIS light in a secular world.

Thank you friend!

TDM Wendy said...

Keep in mind this is just one of many reasons why we send our public schools. For now. If we felt that it was ruining our kid - sucking the life out of them spiritually or otherwise we would look at other options. My kids are still young so who knows what the future holds.

Maybe I can fully respond to your thoughts on another post, but let me just say that I know things have changed or gotten worse. But we do host a young adults group at our house (ages 18-26) every week. There are public and private school kids and one homeschool kid. All seeking, loving God. Some from Christian homes, some not.

And I actually never had one teacher influence me spiritually. Only other students.

I think the important thing is like you said - following God's leading in your situation. Your school district, your particular child, etc.

But stay with me on all this. I don't mind hearing from opposing views or people who have chosen different paths. I even read a few books pro- homeschooling books and yet still feel certain that God wants our kids in public school right now.

Thanks for throwing that out there!

One Crazy Mom said...

love this post as it's very true of my own experiences as well. I didn't realize our stories were so similar.

mel @ the larson lingo said...

Love this it so much. I also feel called to not only send my kids to public school, but I have also been a public school teacher for 7 years. I feel strongly that I have been placed in the public school system for a reason & to be a light there. And, do you know how excited my students are when they see me at church? It is an unspoken connection....I even had one of my students last year come & say hi to me during communion! I think it is so huge for Christian students to have Christian teachers.
Also, Kevin wanted me to comment & say that if it wasn't for YOU, he probably wouldn't have gone to youth group. So, you are a person who impacted him (but, i think you know that)
p.s. Is Kevin in that picture with you, Ben & Pat at Hume Lake?

Kristin said...

My kids are also in public school. My older child is in a 6-12 charter school. It seems that a lot of kids in his school were previously homeschooled. I chose public schools for no other reason than affordability. I have been mostly happy with our public school experience, but am getting nervous as my daughter approaches middle school age. The school my son goes to really isn't a curriculum style in which I think she'll flourish. I just keep praying that I will make the right choices for her.

Barbie said...

It's kind of crazy how similar our stories are. My mom was catholic, my dad LDS. Neither of them practicing (except on holidays). I was seeking answers, and I am SO SO thankful for friends who were strong Christian influences in my life. Schooling is such an individual choice for each family. I hate that this topic becomes such a controversy. I wish we as Christians could support one another in this crazy life. I loved this post and that you are writing these little segments. It's important to hear every perspective. Another bloggy friend wrote a great post on this very topic.

Jessica Johnson said...

our girls attend local, public schools and we consider it a blessing and privilege. we love their schools and look for every opportunity to serve. the Lord is in control. home school. private school. public school. Praise Him that He works in and through it all. and when are we having dinner again?

Pamela said...

Re: Tina-I think as Christians we have to know that things are ALWAYS getting worse, and will continue to do so until the Lord returns. It was worse in the 90s than it was in the 80s than it was in the 70s...

This is something that I'm struggling with even now, and my son is only four months old!In one sense I want my kids to always be surrounded by Godly people, but there's no guarantee of that in Christian schools, either. Unless we're living somewhere with no Christian schools and awful public schools I don't see myself homeschooling beyond the first few years unless God directs me otherwise. God calls us to be a light in the world and one way our kids can do that is in the public schools. I think if parents raise their children to be strong Christians, they can thrive in public schools; if they don't, they're bound to fall away from God no matter where they're educated! It's definitely a decision that needs to be made through fervent prayer and counsel. If parents do that then there's no room for judgment, IMO.

Didn't plan on such a verbose comment, but it's something I think about often. Great post, Wendy!

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Thank you for this post, Wendy! I have many blogging and IRL friends that choose to homeschool while we choose to send our boys to the local public schools..we have always taught them to consider it their mission field.

hannah singer said...

this is such a wonderful testimony! love this! it only matters that you follow HIS lead, way to go! xo

Natalie said...

Thank you for this post. I have a similiar view and my kids go to public school for a lot of the same reasons. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see us all in the christian community not look down on the choices others choose to do for school for their kids. We all have our reasons and the things that the Lord lays on our hearts. I know if the Lord tells me one day to homeschool or do private school for my kids then I need to be open to those options as for now we are blessed to have great public schools to send our kids to. My kids are 13,9,7 & 4. Thank you for sharing!!

Devin said...

I enjoyed the many comments almost as much as I enjoyed the post. Well spoken, Wendy.

I feel very conflicted about this subject. The fortunate thing for our family is that we live in a pretty affluent little village (we bought a fixer {read: dump} so that is how we afford to live here) where there are families with Mom and Dad, who truly care about their children and their well being and education.

I believe that makes a difference--what public school you are considering sending your children to.

If we were one town over, it would be like throwing my kids to the wolves to put them in public schools--and we would make other arrangements. We also will take things year by year and on a child by child basis, but so far we have had nothing but great success in our school.

I really, REALLY would look forward to your writing some sort of weekly/monthly post on this subject. I really think those Christians who have chosen this path for their children could use regular encouragement!

tab said...

Love, love, love this post. I've thought about it all a million times and have to say that I know God wants ME to send my kiddos to public school. My sister of 6 homeschools- she knows God has called her to that.

Oh, and that Amy Grant tape... I've got a good story:) It was a huge part of my choice to live for Christ- when I first heard it in Sunday school and years later when I was an obnoxious 20 something living for only me:)

Jaimie said...

Thank you for posting this!! And for leaving a comment on my blog today :) That made my day!! Would you mind if I linked back to this post on my own blog post about public school? I think this, too, will encourage so many mamas who were struggling like me.

Kourtni said...

Awesome!! I was so encouraged to read this post. Thank you so much for writing it and I think it's super important for all of us Christians to support one another in our individual choices for our own families.

Michelle said...

LOL. I love Jolanthe from 1+1+1.

I think the reason there arent more posts about public schooling is because everyone public schools and tehre are so few homeschoolers and it's still considered abnormal. And even looked down upon.

"Oh, I could NEVER do that."

"You must have more patience than me."

etc etc.


I've never, in my experience as a homeschool, seen any looked down upon because they public school. But maybe I'm too sheltered. LOL

Rachel said...

Wendy, Thank you for your gracious post and addressing this. As a homeschooler, I receive a lot of judgment from my public school loving family, mostly. It helps to know that public schoolers feel that too. I actually go against fear by homeschooling- and it is the positive that someone else mentioned that keeps me on this track (and LOTS of grace- we don't homeschool because we believe we provide a perfect environment!). We believe in diversity for our kids, too- we just have to look for those opportunities and be prayerfully open to them as they arise. Not so much because we don't want our kids around the OTHERS but because they finally have a homeschooling "community" where they feel included and not always the odd man out. You are awesome!! I'm an on again off again blogger but I always come back to yours- LOVE your heart, wisdom and humor :).