I grew up going to public schools, and I have a lot of public school pride. Of course, I was lucky enough to grow up living in a wealthy suburb with fantastic public schools. But I firmly believe in the mission of public schools: to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, no matter who they are, where they live, or what their socioeconomic status is. That’s why I teach in a public school.
Unfortunately, not all public schools are succeeding at this, and schools in urban areas tend to be worse at educating their students than other schools. Which is a dilemma for me, because I like living in urban areas, and I want to send my future children to public schools, but I also want to make sure that my children get the best education possible. And unfortunately, many urban public schools are not currently meeting my standards for the schools I want my children to attend.
This article in the New York Times really struck a chord with me. I truly believe that having diverse schools, with students from various socioeconomic, racial, and cultural backgrounds, is beneficial to everyone at the school. But it’s not necessarily academically beneficial to children like mine will be – children with educated, relatively wealthy parents who will be starting school with skills that their less advantaged peers will not have. So someday, J and I will probably have to make a choice between living in the city and sending our students to our local public school. I’m hoping we can at least put that choice off until after elementary school, since there are usually some strong elementary schools in urban areas. But once you hit middle and high school, it seems like there’s a steeper and steeper divide between the education you can get at an urban public school versus a suburban public school or a private school. Still, I’m glad to hear that there are other parents wrestling with this same challenge, because maybe if the more advantaged parents in the city can band together like this, we can work on improving our local public schools to the point where they are providing a really good education to all of their students – ours included.