Please Don’t Make Me Cry

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the past few weeks, RCM has published stories from local parents about their search for public school alternatives. Last week’s post generated a particularly interesting discussion in the comments section. We asked one of those commenters, Kim Holmes, to elaborate on her comments.
I have one child with only two years left in the public schools here in Huntsville and one starting Kindergarten this year. We’ve been beyond happy with our experiences with our son and despite everything, are looking forward to new experiences with our daughter. Sending my oldest to public school was always my goal due to my own negative experiences going to private school. However, we also can’t really afford a tuition without making sacrifices we’re just not prepared to make. We are public school parents, through and through. No decisions to be made, we just are doing the best with what we have. Yet, I was recently told by someone that they were looking for a house and excluded the district we were in because, “of the schools.” This was said knowing, of course, that’s where I lived. Because, that’s what I had just told them.

This is my point in this discussion here at Rocket City Mom: This is a very sensitive issue for many parents. Whether we are trying to choose schools (public v/s private) or districts; or whether we have no choice and are just hoping for the best, we all are worried about our children’s education. I think we need to all remember that, and be sensitive to the situations of others while we discuss them.

We, as parents with kids in the public schools, may be 100% unhappy and agree with all of your rants. HOWEVER, this is still the system educating our children. We deal with the blanket statements of negativity in the media daily, we really don’t need to hear it from our friends and family who have chosen different. Just know that we know you don’t like the system. That’s one of the reasons you chose something else. You don’t need to remind us while we’re trying to do the best we can in our own situation. If your children are also in public schools? It’s different. Then we feel like warriors for the same side. But, if you’ve chosen something else and continue to justify your decision by critiquing our child’s school? We might take it a little personally.

This has completely modified the way I handle these conversations when I’m on the other side. It doesn’t happen that often, but it has once or twice in the last few years and I’ve adjusted my response based on my own negative experiences in these conversations. When friends and family find out I went to private school, and they ask why we didn’t send our child to private schools, I adjust my answer based on their own child’s schooling. If they have decided to send their kid to private school, I explain that we really couldn’t afford tuition. Which is true. We couldn’t unless we made big sacrifices. If their kids go to public schools? I share with them my own negative experiences in private schools. And if they haven’t decided and are looking for counsel? I tell both reasons.

We are all doing the best we can. I firmly believe that if this educational crisis bothers you in any way, then that means you care. If you care enough to worry about your child’s education? Then they will do just fine wherever they are. If you care, then you’ll help with homework and volunteer if you can. You’ll get to know teachers and friends. You’ll help glue paper or read books or check math. If you care, you can make sure your child has a good education in spite of, or because of, the schools you choose to put them in. We just need to understand this is hard on every parent, and maybe use a little bit of sensitivity in the day-to-day interactions with each other. The local media and parenting groups are very vocal about how bad things are. We don’t need our friends and family who have chosen to leave the system to remind those of us who are still in the trenches ourselves.

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