Our kids have walked the halls of our neighborhood’s elementary, middle, and high-schools for the past twelve years.
We never set out to “do” public schools as a personal statement, or a moral philosophy. Like most parents I know, we sometimes wonder if we’re wrecking our kids. We waver. We wrestle. We just don’t know.
Fortunately, we have good local options: the schools in our district are excellent, and the teachers are rock stars. I understand that this is sadly not the case for everyone, everywhere.
In our house, there has been an ongoing, twelve-year conversation around what’s best for each child (and the family) in every new phase and stage. Only eight more years, and we will have been a part of our local schools for twenty years. TWENTY YEARS! I wonder if our community will be any better, brighter, or more beautiful because of it?
To be clear: this post is not about the merits, failings, or future of public education. I’ve read too many rants on this subject, and don’t wish to add another. Rather, this is a list of eight temptations (I’m sure there are more) that call for us to look down, after we’ve stepped out of the boat.
WHAT NOT TO DO IF YOU GO PUBLIC
1. Make too much of it.
You are neither a hero, a martyr, or a criminal for making the decision to stay local.
2. Make too little of it.
You have been put in this particular place, at this exact time, by God himself. The Creator of all things as planted you in this soil. There is only one of you. There will never be another you.
3. Wring your hands.
The same God who creates everything (from nothing, by the way) cares for you, and your children. Leave the anxious worry to those who believe that all well-being in life is completely up to their good decisions.
4. Throw up your hands.
God has not left the building! There are so many shining lights in your neighborhood schools. Can you see them? Do you champion them? Pray for them? Can you add your light to those that are chasing away the darkness? All is not lost.
5. Stomp your feet.
Petulance should not define us. What does it say when we cross our arms, stomp a foot, and draw a line in the sand that others can’t cross? If you feel the need to stomp, stomp at God. He can take it. He can change a prideful stomp into a step of faith in a heartbeat.
You are not a victim. If you’ve decided to be in your neighborhood school, be all there. Find the good and the beautiful. Be thankful. Be helpful. Use your words (written and spoken) to build up, encourage, and strengthen those who are with your children throughout the day.
This is your school, and your people! Be creative and winsome in all your efforts. Can you be an alert advocate for your children, and still leave the fighting to the LORD? Will you have mercy on your more difficult neighbors, as they are also made in God’s own image? Can you be more hospitable? A better listener? A trusted servant?
We can’t catch sin like we might catch a contagious disease. Sin is already in us, since the day we took our first breath. We take our sin with us wherever we may go to school. Hunkering down, and huddling up so that we don’t catch what they have shows we don’t know ourselves very well.
Do they want what we have, I wonder?
A double-portion of peace to those of you who are planning to go (or remain) local this fall.
You are out of the boat! Keep your eyes on the One who called you, and who will surely keep you.