I can give you tons of reasons why public education is important and the reasons to provide it.
But there is only one defense of it that truly matters. Read on.
My father was a physician. By the age of twenty-one, I had traveled all over the world (Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Soviet Union and Japan). Consequently, my world view was completely different from my peers. Just think what a child born into lower economics would have gained from such experiences?
I attended a private womens college. You want to talk about a microcosm? Your life becomes the world around you, right? Honestly, it is easy to forget other people are suffering when your roommate’s only challenge is to get the best tan she can before she travels to the coast for Spring Break. That was her reality, not mine.
Mine wasn’t as superficial, but I was plenty privileged. Somehow, I knew so and this awareness serves me well. My father was raised on a farm when he was a child and my mother’s parents were missionaries in Japan. Plus, they lived through the Great Depression.
There were times my parents were very poor. Consequently, their childhood’s formed them which in turn shaped mine. I knew I was fortunate. I was expected to help others, share my bounty and support those who were hurting. I have never forgotten this.
About thirteen years ago, I noticed the ELL students at my middle school weren’t fraternizing with the American students. This bothered me. I knew both groups could gain much from each other. So, I developed an ELL Drama Club primarily to give the ELL students an opportunity to be seen in the school. They performed on the multicultural assembly. They were so excited and loved every minute of it! It was a tremendous experience for us and one I will never forget, either.
However, experiencing both public and private schools allows me a viewpoint some privileged folks never have.
I have a good grasp on the importance of public education and the reasons to retain it as our best option for educating our students.
I have taught:
- at private and public schools
- the wealthiest students in a private, very prestigious preparatory program
- the poorest students in a summer program with city funding
- home schooled students
- students in an arts magnet school
- general drama education class to five hundred sixth graders, seventy-five at a time (for twelve years, I taught 400 sixth graders each year, yikes!)
- created curriculum for individual courses in Drama from creative dramatics to film making
- and a mixed bag of other teaching experiences too numerous to mention here.
There is one important reason that public education is vital to our country.
Public education gives everyone an equal opportunity to become educated and to reach their potential. All children and adults have the right to an education if they so choose. No matter a person’s age or social status, everyone should be allowed to learn to read and write.
We are a varied society, rich in cultures from around the world. This is one of our greatest strengths, don’t you think? Living in a micrcosm of any sort divides us. This is less likely to occur in a public school setting.
Public school levels the playing field. There are many students who were born into extreme poverty and neglect only to become some of our most decorated heroes and role models. In public schools, they can learn alongside students of privileged backgrounds. Generally, privilege gives one choices not easily provided for students with lesser opportunities. Public school gives opportunity to everyone of every economic background. It is that simple.
You can argue until the cows come home about the reasons against public school education, but more than anything it merely comes down to this:
Public education embodies equal rights and provides an equal education for everyone. Period.