I must confess I have been guilty of living in my own privileged bubble. It wasn’t until I had a child approaching school age that I began to think about public schools in my area, Jefferson Parish. I had just ignored issues that were all around me. Not because I didn’t think they applied to me, simply because I didn’t think at all.
Let’s support the good
It’s so disheartening to hear time and time again “the public schools here are awful.” There are over 6,000 full time employees in the Jefferson Parish Public School System with nearly half of those being certified teachers. I have not met anywhere near all of those teachers, but the ones I have met, they love their students. They work hard to give them what is best. We need to do better to support these teachers and recognize their dedication. We need to not simply dismiss the work they do in our community as bad.
We have the power
These schools are our schools. We can help determine what type of schools they will be. We can vote on policies that will create changes within them, we can show up to meetings to learn about what’s going on, we can chose to send our children to these schools, and we can be active parents in that school community.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a concerned parent. A parent who takes an active part in their child’s education. But that’s not something all kids have. So I choose to show up for my kid and for other kids who may not have someone in their corner concerned about them. Because my kid doesn’t just deserve a great education, all kids do. Research shows us that when parents care and actively get involved, children will go further and do much better in their education journeys.
Why I love my son’s school
We chose public school for my son. We couldn’t be happier with his teachers and the education he is getting. He is a part of a wonderful and active school community. He comes home happy and eager to show off all of his new skills. He comes home sharing observations and asking questions about some friends who may do things differently than we do in our family. This has opened up the door for many conversations about diversity and respect.
Call to action
So my call to action for everyone is: Reevaluate your school situation. Could public school work for you and your family? Get involved. Show up to community meetings. Learn more about the schools in your area. Vote on the policies that will improve our schools and vote for the people who want that also. Please do not generally bash public schools. I realize we live in an area where religious education is entrenched in our society. Some families would never make any other choice than that, and that is fine. But please don’t just throw out “the public schools here are terrible” without having any experience or facts to back up such claims.
Good schools are good for everyone
When we have good schools in our community, everyone wins. Property values go up, and a stronger and greater sense of community emerges. When our children attend public schools, they get to make friendships and learn alongside lots of different kids. Kids who may look different than them, may come from a totally different culture, or believe differently. This helps prepare kids for life where they will likely have to work with a diverse group of people.
I went to public schools growing up and it’s great! I was really excited for my daughter to apply and go to school. We tested for airline…she didn’t get in. We got ready and got our stuff together for public school applications…we can’t even apply cause we make too much money! So my only choices, leave her at daycare (which hey already told me she is way too smart and will be bored of she stays) ornpay for tuition. It’s just discouraging, that I’m too “rich” for public school (which I totally am not) and now have to figure out how to pay for private school now. The reg fees, tuition, before and after care, lunches. Then summer camp and holiday camps. It’s crazy!
So are public schools great? Yes! But they make it impossible for people to get in! 🙁
As a public school teacher I applaud your decision and outlook on public education. I teach because I want to make a positive difference in kids lives. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to not meet your kids parents at open house. I understand many folks work and work different hours and different jobs to support their family but send someone to meet the teachers. As teachers the more we know a family the better we understand our kids and what they may be dealing with that could be interfering with their learning. We teachers never said we wanted to go into education for money (I think we are the lowest paid on average in country again) we did it because we have a calling to help serve young people. Teachers and kids can help shape school culture but we need all stakeholders to create a positive and nurturing community.
Thank you for writing this! My husband and I are both born and bred Catholic, private-school raised New Orleanians and feel shamed pretty much all the time into considering only private schools for our now 10 month old’s future education. We even have family offering to pay for her education ( family we know cannot afford it ). I appreciate your perspective and advocacy for local public education!
Thank you for using your voice! I ❤️ Public Education!!!!!
I too was raised by the Catholic school system and while that worked great for me it wasn’t something we could afford while my husband was back in school himself. And when I looked at the options, I figured we would just have to go with our district public school. I too felt like the odd man out sending my kid to public school. There’s a little story behind this but the kids at our public school that I saw every day (as I dropped my kids at preschool down the block) were just good kids. I don’t regret my decision to send my kids to a great school with such welcoming staff and faculty. I’ve been blessed to be able to volunteer for some events and chaperone field trips where I got extra time to get to know the teachers and students. Yes, there’s less communication and parental involvement than I’m used to but my kids are getting a great education, thriving everyday. They are meeting kids they’d only meet at the local playground. They’re learning about different cultures and not struggling with inclusivity as a result of being in such a diverse environment. Public school isn’t all bad, we really need to change that label, the stigma that goes along with it, and urge more families to go public and not go into debt sending their kids to school.
This can look very different from experience to experience. If there are lots of parents speaking about negative experiences, then there is work to do as a majority. Other than that, we’re happy that you have a great experience with your school. #MovingForward2Solutions