Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at

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My School Is Better Than Yours

First, my kids are in preschool and the title of this post is tongue-in-cheek.  I haven’t run the kindergarten gamut of choosing public or private; magnet or language immersion; to peanut or not to peanut.

Oh how I love these prep school snobs in Gilmore Girls. Ever notice how "normal" Rory was, since she was small-town publicly educated until she was 16?

What I have experienced is the hysteria as a sideline eavesdropper.  Before I go on, let it be known that I understand that some educational, behavioral and health issues warrant a private school setting.  What I’m talking about here doesn’t fall into those issues.  Things I’ve overheard from various moms include:

  • “God is sad when kids go to public school.” (From a 5-year-old to her friend.)
  •  “I’ve heard that a lot of kids at that school get free lunch.”
  • “15% of that school is ESL kids.”
  • “None of our public schools are good.”
  • “I’m sending my kids to private school but we can’t afford college after that.  The kids will just have to get loans.”
This is all crazy talk to me.  I’ve lived in places where the public schools are truly struggling with urban poverty and the graduation rate is less than half.  That’s not where I live now, though, and the perspective of some people is skewed since they don’t know that we’re actually quite blessed here.
There’s a private school downtown that is beautiful and no doubt has a superior education system, but it would cost about $24,000 for kindergarten.  And dinging a school or kids for their socio-economic level doesn’t seem like a great thing to teach your kids.  Last, I can’t think of a greater gift than helping your kids leave college debt-free.  To me, it’s just not worth private school if you have to sacrifice that.
I live in the Bible Belt and know that many decisions are made based on moral and religious influences.  I’ve heard stories about middle schoolers having sex in the bathrooms and already know that negative language and behavior models abound.  Despite all of this, I stand by my conviction that it’s us parents who are the ultimate role models for our kids.  If we do our jobs at home, public schools won’t scourge our young-uns.
After all, the world is the world, and they’re going to encounter people of different races, incomes, languages, religions and moral codes wherever they go.  I’d rather begin their education of personal strength and loving tolerance in kindergarten rather than shoving them into a strange world fashioned from educational exclusivity thirteen years from now.
No one wants Little Bobby to wake up at eighteen years of age, look around his college campus and realize for the first time that everyone isn’t Just Like Him.

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Comments (11)

  1. Kristine 03/14/2013 at 5:12 pm

    Ooooohhh–so struck a chord. And yet, my kids DO go to a private school for gifted kids–but only after public school was not the right fit. I wrote something along similar lines at called Label Mania. We’re simpatico on this one, you and I.

  2. cabesh 03/14/2013 at 2:39 pm

    What many people also don’t realize it that high numbers of ESL or free lunch kids = lots of extra $ for support staff and programs. That means that all kids benefit.

  3. Jeannie Van Popta 03/14/2013 at 2:36 pm

    ‘If we do our jobs at home, public schools won’t scourge our young-uns.’
    100% agree. But I will be homeschooling/unschooling my children. I’m not scared of my kids having sex in the bathroom just because they go to public school. I went to public school for 13 years and I didn’t do that, I don’t even know of anyone that did. I have other concerns. School taught me to hate learning even though I got through school fine without much effort. I want my children to love learning. Also I don’t think it’s normal or healthy for children to only be around the same age people for most of their waking hours. If you can’t homeschool or don’t want to I’m sure your kids will be fine but I just wanted to let you know that not everyone is trying to shelter or brainwash their kids just because they are homeschooling. My daughter is 5 and can understand difficult concepts, is at a gr.2 math level and gr. 7 reading level. What grade would she be in? It wouldn’t be fair to put her with the other 5 year olds, she would be bored. It wouldn’t be fair to put her with a bunch of older children, she wouldn’t ‘fit in’. I don’t want to be away from my children either, it’s normal for them to be raised at home, I know most people can’t do this, but I can and I will.

  4. Pingback: Kids Cross Dangerous Bridge Walking to School TodaysMama

  5. Allison Randall 08/22/2011 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks so much for calling people out on their fears. It’s doubtful that will be able to send my child to private school, and yes, sometimes the public schools worry me, but I think you made the perfect call when you said, ‘if we do our jobs at home, public school won’t be the scourge of our young-uns.’ I think too often these days, parents want schools to take over the job of raising our kids, but education starts AND CONTINUES at home. I’m also stoked to hear about lovely, well-adjusted, responsible teenagers. I’m pretty sure I was one, and there are a lot of them out there. I wish we could hear even more about them. Thanks so much for this piece, Erica.

  6. Rachael Herrscher 08/22/2011 at 10:56 am

    Dude. I am down with public school (and I realize I can say that because I live in a place that has great public schools). But even bigger, I am a fan of a NEIGHBORHOOD school! I think it builds a community. I could probably get a slightly better education at one of the nearby charter schools, or co-ops I’m sure . . . but it really matters to me that my kids are rooted in their community and I think a neighborhood school is a really big part of that.

    • Erica Fehrman 08/22/2011 at 8:01 pm

      Good point! It actually makes me sad to look down our street and know that not all of the little kids will ride the same bus to school in a few years.

    • Jeannie Van Popta 03/14/2013 at 2:39 pm

      My daughter is home schooled and she is still part of the community. She goes to dance class and plays soccer with the other kids in the area. When she’s older maybe she will participate in their sports programs at school. You don’t have to be just like everyone else to belong.

  7. Carina Wytiaz 08/22/2011 at 10:42 am

    I roll my eyes when I hear of parents around these parts who send their kids to private schools in lieu of public. We have good schools, private schools are a waste of money.

  8. Betsy 08/22/2011 at 10:25 am

    Well said or enough said! We just took our two boys (1st and 3rd) out of Catholic school and put them in public because the private school wasn’t meeting their needs academically. The moms of the children in the Catholic school were appalled. “Are you sure you want to DO that to them?” “Have you heard about some of the sex games they are playing in the middle school?” “Do you know what behavior problems they have there?” “Your kids will learn somethings that you will never want them to know!” So much for for Christian acceptance. I was mortified by the comments and instead of missing everyone, I am just mad.

    Granted my kids are just in week two of school, but they are so happy. So far, nothing is different. I asked my boys this past weekend how “mean” are the kids in their new school and they looked at me like I was crazy. “Mom, everyone is very nice”. Plus, my little one told me on the playground that he was playing with someone “of another color”. Just realized how ridiculous it was to have them in a place that was all “one type” of person. I don’t like that. It’s not the real world. Enough said….

  9. Aggie 08/22/2011 at 10:16 am

    THANK YOU!!! such a refreshing post. I have a 1st grader and pre-Ker … last couple of years have been interesting as far as school talk goes.

    Here’s to say, I live next door to the MOST WONDERFUL WELL-BEHAVED, WELL MANNERED, RESPECTFUL (sorry I’m yelling, love them so much) teenagers, one is now in college. They are seriously a breath of fresh air as far as teenagers go. Public school baby. not saying they wouldn’t be that way if they went to private school. (and also, my neighborhood isn’t in the “best” school district, lots of that kind of talk)…doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is they are GOOD kids and you know why…their parents. Their parents keep them in line. I look up to them and tell them that all the time.