Monday, July 30, 2012

My kids go to "that" school

I just want to start off by saying that homeschooling and charter schools are not an option for me.  Call me crazy, but I'm not organized enough or disciplined enough to home school and I'm tool selfish to drive my kids to another school when there is one in my very own neighborhood and a bus to get my older kids to theirs.  It doesn't mean I'm anti either of them.  I just am happy where I'm at and have no reason to change.  My problem comes from people thinking that I am ignorant about where I send my own kids as if I haven't researched my options.  It is a topic that comes up on occasion and when it does, I feel like I have to defend myself for my choice.  I'm just going to highlight a few things that have been brought to my attention recently:

Several years ago, I asked the head of security at the "other" high school in our area (he is a friend of mine) if he thought there was more problems at my school than at his.  His answer?  "Are you kidding me?  Every school has its problems, your school is no different."  My interpretation?  The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.  I had someone mention to me that they wanted their kids to go that school because they have a sherriff's deputy on duty during school hours and they felt like their kids were safer.  I asked the security person at our school why we didn't have one and the answer I got was something like this: there had to be a minimum number of calls to the sherriff's office reported during a school day for a requisite amount of time before the city/town was required to pay for a deputy to be at the school full time.  So, it is a catch 22, right?  My school doesn't have a deputy on duty full time because there haven't been enough incidents to report.  But, the school with the deputy now has fewer incidents reported because they have the deputy at school until their incidents go down enough to not need a deputy again.  Does that make sense?  It's a vicious cycle that my school hasn't had to deal with...yet.

It is everywhere.  You can't really avoid it and at some point, your children will be put into a situation where they are going to be tempted.  It happens at private schools, charter schools, public schools and even at BYU.  I can only do my best to teach my children to avoid it the best I can.  They ultimately have agency, but when they are younger, I teach them to choose good friends and how to make good choices.

Early Morning Seminary
Several people have mentioned that they only want their kids to have release time seminary.  For those of you not familiar with my church, for one class period of the day, our children are offered a class where they can learn more about the gospel through scripture study, taught by members of our religion.  For more info on that, click here.  My school isn't able to offer it as a class during the day, so it is available as an early morning class at the church.  Our teachers are all volunteers and they are fabulous.  Besides, what a better way to start the day?  Most LDS kids have to take an early period at some point in their high school career to make up for that missing credit anyway so what is the difference?  We carpool our kids to the seminary building by 6am and they all get on a bus afterwards that takes them directly to school.  My kids say it is a great way to start their day, by getting into the scriptures and having a daily reminder to remember to do what is right.  Wether you get it in the middle of the day or before school, it is a great thing.

This is a tough subject for me as we are a huge sports family.  But, the reality is that I don't think any of my children will end up being professional athletes.  Having said that, it isn't that I don't think they are awesome enough (because I think they can do whatever they want to do and be great at it).  I just am a realist and none of my kids have showed the kind of determination and drive it would take to play in the NFL/NBA/MLB.    To this argument I admit that our school struggles.  So many of the kids that live in our boundaries are choosing other schools because of their fantastic athletic programs, we may continue to struggle for years to come.  The reality is that my kids love to participate and they are hugely competetive.  When it comes down to it, our kids decided that they would rather be a part of the game and play as many minutes possible while losing than sit on the bench and win.  It is also a proven fact that kids from smaller schools can still get athletic scholarships.  What difference is an English degree from Western New Mexico than an English degree from UofA?  Very little.  If my kid can get into a smaller college that will pay for him to play while going to school, who cares where he goes? (As long as I can come visit and watch).

Someone got it in their head that our school has terrible teachers and a less than desireable curriculum.  Where did that come from?  My kids have for the most part had fabulous teachers.  Yes, there have been one or two that I didn't particularly care for or that my kids didn't get along with, but what a great life lesson: to learn to get along with people you don't neccesarily like being around.  If I pulled my kid because they didn't get along with a teacher, what is that teaching my child?  I'm not going to college with them and picking out teachers I think he will like and I certainly am not going to go interview future employers to make sure they are a good match for my kid.  I think this is one of life's greatest lessons actually and some semesters/years my child and/or I struggle continually and sometimes their grades don't reflect what they deserve, but if they come out of the year knowing that they have learned skills that will help them for a lifetime, it is worth the struggle.  The book knowledge will come regardless of who their teachers are.  (side note:  I won't tolerate abuse of any kind and that would warrant action on my part...obviously.)

The fact of the matter stays the same.  No matter where my children go, they are going to succeed because I don't rely on the schools alone to teach my kids.  I have to do my part to make sure they are getting the education they deserve.  If that wasn't happening, I'm sure I would do something differently, but so far we're doing good.  Education isn't just book knowledge, it is learning life skills too.  I truly believe that if we put as much time watering our own grass instead of looking for greener grass elsewhere, everyone would be that much better off.  

Stepping off my soap box now.  Feel free to disagree but do it kindly in your comments please.


  1. I love public school, and I love your post!

  2. All I have to say is "Amen". I could get onto a soap box, but it comes down to the fact that if we all supported our neighborhood schools they would all be well on their way to being "good" schools. My experience is that most teachers want their students to succeed and are more than happy to work with parents to make it happen. It's a team effort. Great post!

  3. I, too, love this!! I couldn't have said it any better. We are blessed that our kids can go to a great school. It has its problems, with a few teachers we have not cared for, but we have said the same things to our kids and improved communication skills with the teachers. When we lived in AZ, there were a couple teachers who really belittled my kids and made them feel incompetent and inadequate, and after realizing we were fighting a losing battle, we did put them in a charter school, but the next year they were at the neighborhood school. Our kids LOVE their school and that matters the most. They can't wait for school to start in 10 days.

  4. Thank you Stacy!! I've been going back and forth about where to send my first child to Kindergarten...a big stress for me. I love the way you express yourself through writing. I wish that was a talent of mine :) But, it's thank you for expressing the thoughts I was trying to piece together! Now I feel better about the decision I made despite the pressure from friends to choose otherwise. Poor Kennedy won't start the year knowing anyone, but I'm sure she'll make friends quickly...and have a chance to be a good example too :)

  5. Boo-yah! Loved hearing your views on this topic. You made a lot of excellent points to think about. Although my kids will most likely be going to the "other school" and I am one of the crazies that drives my kids to an inconvenient, out of the way school, I firmly believe that as parents, we are all entitled to know what is best for our children and our families. What is good for one family, will not be the best thing for another.....period. With this knowledge, I believe that each individual family's decision in this particular area should be respected. What happened to the good old days of growing up in Mesa and all of us going to the same schools??? I do believe that the early morning seminary program is such a blessing in its own way. The hard statistics reveal that seminary attendance actually goes down when a release time hour is offered.

  6. I really appreciate the way you say things! Despite having lived at the same address for 12 years, four of my children have attended 5 different grade schools. I learned the hard way, that the very best way to know what is going on at school is to be in the classroom regularly. That doesn't necessarily mean volunteering, sometimes it is just sitting quietly and observing the classroom. Because two of my children are special needs I have had other parents of special needs children ask me how I picked their schools. I haven't. The one time I made a request for a specific classroom it was denied, but has turned out to be the best situation in the end. My advice to any parent is to be involved in the classroom so that the teacher knows you and what you expect of them and your child. This is true for special needs, "normal" and gifted children. I love your posts Stacy.

  7. I pretty much agree with everything you just said. Maybe we're the same person. Woah.

  8. As if 'amen' wouldn't say it all . . .

    I can't remember if I laughed or was shocked when Nikki said I would have lost my testimony if I'd gone to BYU, for all the stuff I would have been exposed to (not least of which was guys wearing shorts to church on Sunday - lol).

    I've struggled with the idea that in order for my kids to get a 'fair' education, I would have to get ultra-educated and over-involved (or at least somewhat involved) in one of the disability groups (that consume what little 'spare' time moms of kids with disab have. Now I realize, I have to advocate, but let's face it - my kids are going to live in the same world with everyone else and I'm not going to be there to hold their hand every second. If they can't learn to adapt and self-advocate (at least somewhat) in the real world, then they aren't going to survive there anyway.

    I love your practical application of living in the world while not being of the world!

  9. Amen! Amen! Amen! {That is all I have to say!} :)

  10. Okay, so I'm trying to get to know you better by stalking your blog ;). I love this post. Isn't it funny how no matter what we choose for our children we have to defend it all the time? Doesn't seem to matter what it is.
    I wish people would realize when Heavenly Father gives them a strong conviction of what is right for their family, the accountability for that ends at their front door. We are not bound by the convictions He gives other people for other children! :)