Do you love your local public school?

This year I did something drastic.
I enrolled three of my four children in a public school instead of choosing to home school them again. 
Homeschooling was a journey that took us to beautiful destinations. As a family we spent our days cuddled together on the couch reading, visiting museums, immersing ourselves into history, or learning to raise chickens and grow our own food. Exciting opportunities opened for my children. When my oldest son was in the 6th grade, he enrolled in an accredited flying course and flew in a two-passenger plane with a pilot earning a flight certificate.   Homeschooling was our way of life for eight years.  
But that changed when one of my children was diagnosed with dyslexia and another with autism spectrum disorder. Daily home-school assignments became daily battles. We sought professional help, and both children began occupational, speech or physical therapy depending on their individual needs. We moved to another state to give our children more opportunities, but as a home-school mom trying to cope with their “disabilities,” I was struggling. I begged God to help me set aside my will for the children He had entrusted to me and to show me what He wanted for them instead.    
The decision to enroll them into public school was not made on a whim, or in a fit of self-pity, although there were stressful days where I struggled just as much as they did. It happened gradually and as the Lord led. I am not advocating homeschooling over public school, or public school over homeschooling. I am advocating praying over your children and asking God to show you where each child will blossom based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. For example, my child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) still home schools with me, while his siblings attend public school because he functions better in his own environment, but as he matures his needs may change.  
When you’re a homeschooling family, you think homeschooling is the only way, and when you’re a public-school parent, you might think homeschooling families are slightly weird. But, being a parent who straddles the fence and does both, has not been without its challenges. Sometimes, the opinion of others can be harsh when the decisions we make for our children differ from theirs. Look, I get it. There are a lot of terrible things going on in our country, and public education has taken the brunt of the accusations that the problems stem from methods of teaching or lack of teaching. Some claim public education is not what it used to be, but here’s a doozy, neither is the public it’s assisting.  
Teachers are at the forefront of the battle for America’s children, and because we (Christian, homeschooling families, among others) have stopped supporting them, they are losing the fight. I became so self-absorbed with my children’s home education I unintentionally turned my back on my neighbor’s children. Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31 and again in Luke 10:27 that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” In Luke 10:29 someone asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” to which He responds in Luke 10:27-37 with the story of the “Good Samaritan.” In verse 36, After telling the story, Jesus asked which of the three men proved to be the neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves, and the answer in verse 37 was, “He that shewed mercy,” then Jesus admonished all of His followers to “Go and do thou likewise.” Jesus teaches that our neighbor is anyone living within our community, not just the person who lives on either side of your home, or in your neighborhood. We are to show mercy just as the Samaritan showed the stranger he met along the road.   
When we decided to enroll our children in public school, we also made a conscious decision to support our child’s principal, teachers, and other leaders. Now, this doesn’t mean following those in authority blindly without question. I realize not all public-school environments are the same. Not all communities are the same. It takes prayer to discern what is best for your child, and your family. But, as Christians, we should put on the whole armor of God and go into battle for our nation’s children alongside our teachers, whether we home-school, use online school, or enroll our children into a private school. If we turn our backs and look the other way when it comes to the future leaders of our country, we have no reason to complain when we turn on the news and see the crisis we are facing.  
Do you know what I found when I stepped outside my “homeschooling bubble” into the public-school system? I found a weariness I had been blind to before. I witnessed teachers being mistreated by the students they were trying to teach, verbally abused and scrutinized by parents who should be supporting them. I saw teachers investing their own money to purchase supplies for their students and their classrooms. I saw as they volunteered to run after-school programs, offered tutoring or clubs to enrich their student’s lives, even though extra hours would be unpaid. I found Christian teachers and Board of Education employees quietly studying their bibles, and listening to Christian radio stations during planning time, or parent/teacher conferences. I heard the prayer request of teachers so heavily burdened for their current or past students that tears filled their eyes. I saw teachers leading worship songs during a Christian themed after-school program, and I listened outside the door, as groups of children heard the plan of salvation in their school gymnasium for the first time. I realized if we abandon our public schools, we also abandon our brothers and sisters in Christ who serve inside the institution we have forsaken. They need to know the Christian community is praying for them, supporting them.
They need to know we acknowledge their challenges, and each of us should ask God daily to open our hearts and eyes to ways we can help strengthen the work of their hands.  
So, as parents, community members and most importantly, as Christians what can we do to help? Two words; Get Involved. Trust me on this. Your local public-school staff would welcome your help. Call the school office and ask what you can do. Maybe you could sign up to be a substitute teacher, organize an after-school club, volunteer to speak on a subject you have mastered, organize library books, or decorate for upcoming holidays. Maybe you could send notes of encouragement, deliver a hot meal to the teacher’s lounge, or donate flowers to beautify the exterior of the building. The list of opportunities to be a blessing is limitless!  
On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court removed prayer from our public schools, but that doesn’t mean we need to abandon or stop praying for our public-school teachers and staff. Instead, we need to follow the example of Daniel. When a law passed commanding him not to pray (Daniel 6:10) Daniel “got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before,” and, so should we.      
If we want to see a positive change in our public education, then we need
to BE the change ourselves, by getting involved!

One Response to “Do you love your local public school?”

  1. Steven Duke says:

    I was blessed the day I met you at Blue Lake. This blog simply shows one more facet of you that I love.

    Keep on, keepin on…

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