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.
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.