Sunday, January 6, 2013

Public vs. Private

     I teach at a public high school. Two years ago there were budget cuts by the state that resulted in twenty jobs being lost on my campus. A good friend of mine ended up at an all boys Christian private school. He invited us to an event (fundraiser) that they hosted for Epiphany last night. It was a fun excuse to get dressed up, go out and spend time with friends outside of school. There was food and music. It was pretty entertaining.
     We ended up sitting at a big table with the following people: myself, my husband who is a plumber, two friends that also teach public school, one of their spouses that works at an group home for kids, and an orthopedic surgeon and his homemaker wife. The majority of people in attendance were parents of students at this school. I'm thinking this one surgeon probably makes more money then the rest of us at the table combined. So they start asking us questions about what it is like to be at a public school. What is our average class size? This year about 26, but last year was worse. This private school has a 10 to 1 student teacher ratio. They want to know how bad is the bullying on our campus. We explain that even though our kids are in a rough area of town they really look out for each other. Our campus is in a neighborhood plagued by poverty, there are active gangs in the area, and a small percentage of our students don't speak english, a larger percentage don't have two parents at home.
      The wife of the surgeon asks if we are afraid to be there. No, we love being there. The husband starts trying to justify their decision to spend $20,000 a year to send their kids to private schools. The students are all motivated, they get more direct instruction, yadaa,yadda, yadda. I'm thinking, look man, you don't have to explain anything to me. All parents want the best for their kids. Not all parents can afford to send their kids to private schools. Not all parents have time to help their kids do homework or go to athletic events. Some parents didn't graduate from high school themselves and they don't know how to help their kids get a good education. I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have a quality education no matter what their background.  Everyone should have a chance to better themselves and their family. That is why I teach public school. It is a challenge sometimes, I like to say it is a new adventure everyday. Seeing those kids graduate makes it worthwhile.

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