Wrong Assumptions I Had about Public Schools (Thoughts on Public Schools – part 1)

Ihs

I spent my entire schooling career in a small Christian school (for which I am very thankful). My wife also was private-schooled from third grade until graduation. When we moved our children to public school (each of them starting in 7th grade), we had some fears and expectations. Most are our fears were unfounded and most of our expectations were just wrong. Here are some things I was surprised by (and shouldn't have been):

  • For some strange reason, I wrongly assumed that their teachers would be unpleasant, angry people who hated their jobs and disliked my children. It took about one week to figure out how wrong that assumption was. I had such great experiences with our private school teachers, I expected the worst. That was stupid and unfair. 
  • I have been amazed at how almost every teacher arrives early and stays late and students are invited to come early to school or stay late for extra help.
  • I have been so thankful for all the teachers who give up their free period to help students and some who just let students (including my children) eat lunch in their rooms and laugh and joke around with them with their friends. 
  • I have been shocked by how many teachers remember my name and my daughter's names. With hundreds of students – how do they do that? They see me a handful of times a year, but so many of them remember our names and go out of their way to greet us when they see us at school or in public!
  • I have been shocked by how approachable teachers are when we meet with them about our concerns over the curriculum. Although we clearly disagree on some important issues with many of them, I've discovered nothing but respect from all of the teachers we've interacted with. They have even offered to let our students miss certain lectures. (We've never taken advantage of that offer; we just wanted to know what the topics were so our children would hear some things from us first.)
  • I have been so happy with how supportive teachers are when we miss school for family trips. We've taken our girls on mission trips, college trips, and even vacations during school days and although it has to be a major pain for them, they always express excitement to our daughters and always help our girls "catch up." I know those trips aren't "approved" as excused absences, yet they are so supportive of our parenting decisions.

We are getting close to our oldest graduating and I hear so many complaints about schools and teachers, I felt compelled to give my limited, but very thankful perspective.

I know most of the teachers of West Irondequoit schools will likely never read this, but I sure hope to thank as many as I can in the next three years until all three of my children have graduated.

8 comments
  1. Hi David- Being a Christian speech therapist in a public school, I appreciated your newly found insights to public education
    teachers. I do believe that most teachers are hard working people and only want the best for their students. I’m pleased
    that your experience has been a positive one. Have an “educated” day. 🙂

  2. As a teacher, thank you. I get a lot of criticism for dealing with the crap and politics of being a Christian in a public school. However, I have had so many opportunities to interact and encourage Christian kids and share the love for Christ with many others. Not all teachers are awesome and the handful of bad ones tend to taint our entire profession. I wish more Christian parents shared your feelings.:)

  3. I grew up in public school. I became a Christian in the fall of my senior year of high school, so until then I didn’t have any faith to challenge, but after that, there were daily challenges, and I wouldn’t trade having been a Christian in a public school for anything because I was always motivated to be in the Bible and know what it said about [pick an issue or sin] so I could make a correct decision or to defend myself. Every morning in homeroom, I would read a chapter of my Bible. It’s not for everyone; a friend of mine spent one year in public school before returning to Christian school.

    Any challenges I faced were from my peers, never from teachers or administrators. In tenth grade, I stayed after biology class one day to talk to my teacher about the fact I disagreed with what he was teaching on evolution. He was extremely polite and respectful about it and, if I remember correctly, said that was what he was required to teach, not necessarily his own views and opinions. Senior year, when I read my Bible in homeroom, if the teacher noticed (I’d be surprised if she didn’t), she never said anything because she probably didn’t care.

  4. :-)……
    Christians who encourage unsaved public school teachers have a greater impact on these unsaved teachers than they can ever imagine….It is like sharing the gospel with a bright light!
    Great read David!

  5. It is easy to make assumptions on both sides of this discussion. People often make assumptions like all public schools are bad, all Christian schools are good, Christian schools are small with bad facilities etc. Any over-generalizations related to education are dangerous. I have spent the last 20 years as a teacher and now administrator in a Christian school. It is nothing like the ones I grew up in and around. I have made many assumptions in the past and have been corrected through the years as well. My concerns with public schools are related to the institution and overall philosophy tied with the non-biblical worldview that is often taught. Your comments are great because they get to the heart of the issue…people. You can have great people in either institution and not so great people in either institution. The people make the school.
    Your parental involvement is key to success. Making yourself and your children aware of the various curriculum and worldviews being espoused and having conversations about them is a necessity. It is wise to look at each school and situation individually.

  6. Thanks so much for your posts about public school. It’s a very appropriate subject for us as we start out journey in public school next year.

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