My Perspective on Education: From a Public School Teacher In Defense of Public Education

This is a guest post from Erin. She is a public school teacher in Indiana and blogs at School Teacher by Day, Superhero by Night. For more information on this series and submitting your own perspective on education post, click here.

As a teacher, I believe in the choice to educate your child as you see fit. At the end of the day, I believe a parent knows best. I also believe in public education. When I see a blog about home schooling, I read on with interest. I like to know what they’re doing as part of their curriculum. It’s interesting to me–and often, I can find a great deal of common ground between what goes on in my classroom and theirs (because yes, it is a classroom, too).

But every so often, I come across home schooling blogs that make sweeping generalizations about public education. Generalizations that, as a public school teacher, I would never turn around and make about home schooling. Sometimes, believe it or not, these generalizations come from friends, friends who know that my job is in public education. I see statements that they don’t like public school because it means control. Because it means pressure. As if public education means that we’ve actually got a Pink Floyd meat grinder set up in the cafeteria for all the students. That all we do is force feed our kids rote memorization facts to pass the high-stakes tests. Am I saying that public education doesn’t need fixed? Not at all. It does. There are many things wrong, but in knocking it, you are knocking teachers who show up to work every day and try their hardest, despite the flaws.

Let me give you a brief glimpse into a recent day in the life on my 8th grade team. In Social Studies, students were working on the wax museum project, where for a day in May, they will get to become a person from US history. They got to pick their person and will be in the auditeria presenting to staff, parents and others from the community. In Science, students are hatching quail eggs. In Math, students are applying what they know of graphing to interior design to create their own living space. In my classroom, we’re reading Matched, a recent Young Adult literature release. So far, several of my students have told me that they’ve already bought the next two books in the trilogy because they’re so excited to complete it. Another student excitedly told me that he found a video game that’s dystopian, while another told me about a rap song that has alliteration in it. My students aren’t controlled. My students are thinkers. My students apply. My students make our learning relevant and exciting.

Do we have more rules than a typical home school setting? Well, yes. We have 1000 kids in one building. I imagine that if you had 1000 kids in your house, you would need a bit more structure, too. Are we unable to take as many field trips as a typical home schooling environment? Yes. Unfortunately, not all of my students can afford the one field trip a year that we do take, but we find ways to make this one affordable and enjoyable for all students. What I’m saying is this: educate your children in the way you feel is best for them. Explain your choices in a way that relates to you, but understand that on the flip-side, we’re out there doing a whole lot of good for someone else’ s child. Don’t jump on the anti-public education bandwagon because it’s the in thing to do. Remember that for eight hours a day, we may be the only adults that smile at a kid. We may be the only warm meal a child gets in a day. You may not think we’re doing the best we can, but we are.

Comments

  1. Great post! I am a public school teacher whose own mother often bashes the system. She homeschooled my younger brother to better meet his special needs and is absolutely convinced she should have homeschooled all her children. This is just not a place we will ever see eye-to-eye. Does the public school system need to be revamped a bit? Yes! But does that mean it’s a compete failure and every mom is just as (or even moreso) capable of providing a quality education? I don’t think so.

  2. I loved this guest blog. Super positive and respectful to all types of education. Nice to hear that! Well said:)

  3. God Bless this teacher and all she does every day. We need more like her!

  4. As you know we’ve chosen the public school route and have now been able to experience three different school districts in three different states. Something that I have observed after volunteering in each one- I’ve witnessed how much the teachers are giving their all, and how much my own children have benefited from the resources and dedication by those teachers and faculty. It’s really something I feel unqualified to even begin to describe, but I would encourage any naysayers to visit a public school before they make any sweeping statements. I think there must be some misunderstandings on both sides. Also, I have never thought much about the amount of field trips because while my kids attend public school, we go on many exciting adventures outside of school and continue to nurture our kids’ education at home.

    Steph

  5. All any of us can do is focus on giving the best possible experience to the kids who we do have and not worry about what everyone else thinks or decides. When people make negative comments, it’s probably because their self-worth is wrapped up in other people’s approval of what they’re doing.

  6. Chrystal says:

    Yes Yes Yes!

  7. Well said Erin! Especially this – “There are many things wrong, but in knocking it, you are knocking teachers who show up to work every day and try their hardest, despite the flaws.” SO SO true. We are giving it our all. It is a flawed system but not all of it is something teachers can even repair. I wish we could get more of the public and the government IN the schools to see the reality.

    From an outside perspective people often think they know what goes on and how they could do it better, but that’s not necessarily the truth. I agree with your perspective on home-schooling too. As a public school teacher I follow some home-schooling blogs for ideas to use with my own kiddo. But interestingly enough, I don’t think home-schooling is something I could do well for my children – and I am a teacher! I admire those who do it well, which is funny because I find there is so much negative press out there about public education I feel like no one else things I can do my job well.

  8. Thank you so much, it is beautiful written.

  9. This is such an important side of the argument and one so few people recognize at the moment! With the trend to bash the public schools, few are recognize the positive they offer FOR FREE and what a privilege it is to be able to choose to take part in (or not take part in) a free system of quality public education, regardless of its flaws.

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