Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's that time of year again and I am over it

No, not the weather.

No, not making the Halloween costumes... as I have to begin because I need the table cleaned and it is not.

Nope, it's not even the "is Santa evil?" or "Are we going to he ll for dressing up as cheerleaders and cows and saying Trick or Treat?"

Nooo... it's the homeschool vs. private school vs the Evil Soul-Sucking Public School (ESSPS) debate.

And I am so, so frackin over this battle in the Mommy Wars.

(Please note that this does not actually pertain to any of my real life friends. It does, however, pertain to some blogs I read and people I once (note the past tense) knew.)

Once upon a time, I was a teacher and a pretty good one at that. The kids liked me. I liked the kids. Most of the parents liked me. Other staff memebers liked me. The kids learned stuff. They learned ALOT of stuff. I learned too. The principal... well, she was evil. But that's a whole 'nuther blog.

Then I had Joseph and stopped working as a teacher. Instead, I worked as a mommy and a swim coach or instructor. I thought about going back to work as a sub but never did.

Then, when Joseph was older, we thought about homeschooling. I even kept him home from preschool when he was three and worked with a homeschooling co-op. When he was four, he went to preschool and then, after looking at our parish school, sent him to public school. Camille was ready and eager for preschool at 3. Georgie will be 2 years, 11 months when he starts, due to his severe speech problems. I don't know when or if Cole will start.

Being a hippie yet conservative in our thinking and religious, we have ALOT of friends who homeschool. Many of our other friends send their kids to private Catholic schools. In fact, amoung the people I have known since Joseph was a baby, I am one of the few who does  NOT send their kids to Catholic school or homeschool.

When I toodle around the blog-o-sphere, most of the blogs I am drawn too (Catholic, large families, etc) homeschool their children.

Sometimes I think we are the only people on the planet who want to raise children that think outside the box, are devot Catholics, understand their faith and so on... and yet send them to those ESSPS.

(I'm being snarky, here, as I do NOT think public schools are evil nor do they suck your souls or anything.)

When Joseph was little, I once had to sit through a whole dinner with some members of our then-parish who tried to convince us to send our kids to the parish school. Oddly enough many of these same people were, for whatever reason, against sending kids to preschool. As time went on, I watched the parish school get more and more funding and special RE materials (like CGS) while the children in RE got nothing. That really doesn't fly in my book.

As I read blogs, people extole the virtues of homeschooling (especially unschooling). I hear how it is sooo superior to traditional schooling. I have read about Bible verses that command people to homeschool (they don't), how it is so much harder than simply "sticking your kids on a bus" and so forth. I've been privvy to pages and pages about the horrible public school system. I've been told, in person, that the answer to any problem we have at school would be to homeschool. I've horrified people when I tell them I am sending our severly speech delayed son to preschool a full year early.

I wonder if people realize how they make me feel. How would they feel if they had to constantly be dogged and pittied for the choice they made for their children? What if I told people it is wrong to homeschool a child with a disability?

See, the thing is, there is  no perfect educational system. We live in a fallen and imperfect world- nothing is perfect. You can only make the best choice for your kids at any given time with the knowledege you have at that time. And, yes, honestly, after much thought and prayer, I do think this public school is the best place for my children.

When we first moved here, the Catholic school had a waiting list. I could pay the 125 dollar enrollment fee and place him on the waiting list but they could not promise that he would get in. If he did not, we would not get our fee back. We placed him in kindergarden, thinking we might look at the Catholic school again at the end of the year. However, he did so well at the ESSPS and he had made good friends that we chose to keep him there. Camille kept going to the Catholic preschool and we were pleased wtih both schools. For every year of schooling, my children have been very blessed with teachers who really understand them and know how to work with them.

And something that I cannot dismiss... when we moved here, a major selling point was the school just a few blocks away. We found out that the school only serves a mile radius. No matter what schooling option we chose, we knew there would be lots of friends in the area and that the elementary school would be small. We also knew they had an early childhood special needs preschool (ECSN) attached to the school. I thought that was great. The kids with special needs attend preschool with "typicals" (that is, neurotypical) children of their age to model age-appropreate things, like speech. A long time friend sent her sons to a preschool like this in her district and has had lovely things to say about them.

A year ago, it became clear that Georgie was having problems with speech. At the beginning of this year, we began to understand that he might begin preschool early, not as a typical but as a child with special needs. We knew that even if his language suddenly began to explode, he would still need services as an "outpatient." He would go to a school (not every public school has EC speech services) for speech and then to a different preschool or back home with me.

At the beginning of the year all the "outpatient" speech services for the district  moved to our school. Let me say that again- all the early childhood speech services for the preschool crowd are at our school, the school where our child with speech need will go. His "home" school, the school where he will go for K-5. That school. Yes, the other schools with ECSN preschools have speech for their in-house kids. Ours, however, has alot more than most schools.

Honestly, I feel like this is a giant neon sign from God: LAURA, YOUR CHILDREN WERE MENT TO GO TO THIS SCHOOL. THIS IS WHERE THEY BELONG.

Do I think public school is taking the easy way out? *snort* No. Am I uninvolved in my kids education? Heck no! Am I worried about sending Georgie to preschool at 2 years, 11 months- not potty trained, not able to talk clearly? Yes! I trust the teachers (we know them personally) and I trust the communication between the school and myself. But he's my son, and of course I worry about him, just as I do all my children.

The MommyWars over school should be over and done with. We all make the best choices for our kids based on what they and we need. Today, right now, my children are thriving in a public school. I am happy for them to return to school because THEY are happy to go back. I am happy to send them off because THEY (for the most part!) are happy to go.

We are and always will be their primary educators. But I am happy to have their school, yes their PUBLIC school, on my team.


  1. AMEN!!!!! I am a public school teacher and my oldest goes to public school and my 2 1/2 year old son who has Apraxia, will most likely be headed to an intergrated public preschool when he turns three...but just because my kids are "public school kids" does not mean I don't teach them values at home or do homeschooling/unschooling activities with them. Parents are the primary educators and parents everywhere need to be reminded that more and more. It's not a competition on who can stress themselves out the most on their child's education, it's about working together to help our children be tomorrow's future - the best way we see fit.

  2. Exactly! I went to public schools, worked in a Catholic school and subbed in our local public schools. I probably would not work in a Catholic school again, due to the terrrrible experience I had. The homeschooling community in the area is pretty active but I honestly feel like my kids are better served in the ESSPP. We might homeschool in the future; there's an off-chance my husband may be sent overseas to work and IF we chose to go with him, we would homeschool. (Unless his work paid for an international school- we might chose that.) But all those are big, fat IFs.
    BTW, your Little Man sounds alot like G, down to the ages he is testing at! We will transition to the PS in a month- ack!

  3. So true! Good on you for knowing your family best, and making a good choice. I think our community of crunchy mindeds forget that, rather than one BEST way to birth, feed, raise, and educate children, there are many good ways. Many great ways, I venture. Homeschooling is great! And PS (or ESSPS as you say it) can be too. It serves my older 2 kids very well! And I resent statements regarding separation and school. I can attachment parent my kids and send them to school for six hours of the day, thank you very much. And as you say it certainly doesn't negate the fact that I and their dad are their #1 teachers in life. Great post. Thanks!

  4. Very well said. We really do need to get together. I kept thinking I'd have all these open mornings with the two younger ones to fill, but as usual I didn't do anything and they fill up just the same.

    I'm a K-12 Catholic school kid loving our public neighborhood school. I believe they have better resources to help kids on both ends of the spectrum.

    Had some frustrating conversations with the die-hards at our parish also. I kept saying that they would do much better school recruiting if their two premises weren't that (1) those who go to public school are somehow inferior in their faith and (2) they truly believe that better kids go there and they are sheltering their kids from the evils of the world. As a Catholic school kid I KNOW that is BS; we had all the same trouble as the public schools.

    It's up to us as a family to model what is important. If I read books and read to my kids they are more likely to think reading is important. Same for demonstrating and practicing our faith in every day life regardless of what checks I write.

  5. Exactly Beth. And better kids? Really? Cause the Catholic high school in a nearby county has a day care. It's not for the kids of the teachers but the kids of the students. A pro life example that helps these girls stay in school? Yes. But it also shows that in spite of the years of Catholic school, some of the students are making the same choices that the kids at the ESSPS are making- s ex before marriage.
    I think Catholic schools need to be afforable for more people. Families shouldn't have to go in debt to afford a Catholic school for the kids and the private schools should be as good as, or better, than the public school. (My husband made a good point- many people wish that their private schools were as good as the public schools in our area.) What really steams me up is when the kids in RE get a second rate religious education because the parish funnels more money to the school. This is one reason I love our current parish- the preist insists on giving the RE teachers and the school teachers the same opportinuties for con't education and the school kids do not get a better RE than the PS kids.
    And let's face it- there are very, very few schools out there that could take Georgie and give him the therapy he needs. I already worry about him recieving the sacraments. I mean, how can a kid who can't talk go to Confession?!

  6. Great article! I added it to the links at the end of my article on why we love public school. The pro-homeschooling stuff online really gets to me, too--since when does loving your neighbor as yourself include sheltering your children from your neighbors who attend a school you believe is not good enough?? In person, I've encountered more parents who unquestioningly assume that because we live in a large city, the public schools must be terrible, so their children go to private schools.

    I attended a year of Catholic school myself (although not Catholic) because my parents hoped it would be better academically. It was better in some ways and worse in others, so overall about the same--but at extra expense!