Schooling: home vs. public vs. private

A sometime heated debate…

I am a former homeschooling mom who dipped her kiddos into public school systems in two states and landed them in a private classical school in a third state.  I have to say, though views change drastically from circle to circle, I observed that in the state where schools were top priority for state funding the debate was immensely less heated on all sides.  I have observed that where funding priorities are skewed at the state level, the debates are increasingly more intense.

Homeshooling for our family was a calling.  It was not something I was looking for or desiring, but something that grew into our lives as we got to know our daughter better each year.  I am not a natural, and gratefully was surrounded by some pretty incredible support and resources.  However, when the Holy Spirit moved I was excited to put the kids into school.  We interviewed several and purposefully chose the public school, which decorated its halls with Bible verses, lacking their references, and teachers held high standards for students and were inspiring and loving.  The kids thrived, and I survived through a challenging and risky pregnancy.

We moved.  Lack of job and loss of a family member motivated this change. Our options were greatly reduced by a new state’s guidelines, restrictions and rules and made the nearest public school one of our only option. We interviewed the principal and the teacher and felt less enthusiastic, but at peace.  Baby was born and after testing was proclaimed healthy and life settled down.  It became very apparent that the time had come to go back to homeschooling as skills slacked and behavior suffered.  We pulled the kids out of school in December and finished off the year at home.

The following year, wiser and less sleep deprived we continued homeschool with a new curriculum, but lacking in the support and resources.  As baby grew and Daddy traveled for his new job and kids tested boundaries I was stretched beyond a healthy limit.  We needed a solution badly.

Again, the Holy Spirit moved and a door opened.  One that we grew more excited to enter as we investigated deeper.  St. Stephen’s Academy, a Classical Christian school, offered both the academic methodology we like and the principals we desire to raise our children with.  They also offered financial aid, something the other private schools did not offer.  As we interviewed and were interviewed we were asked the question; “you’ve indicated that you need financial aid, are you able to and willing to make the sacrifices needed to afford this education if you do not get the full aid you requested?”

Of course we are willing.  What parent isn’t?

As I observe the differences from state to state and circle to circle, I see this very question being asked and answered in varying forms and degrees: Are you willing to make sacrifices for your kids’ education? And I have observed that the heat is added when the details of what a sacrifice looks like come into play.

Personally, sacrifice has come in many forms.  Time and sanity, willingness to stretch and grow, and now financially.  At each phase of our parental career to date we have looked the details over carefully and lined up the action points with the goals, the values with the methods and relied heavily on the leading of the Holy Spirit.  We have made many mistakes and we have achieved many goals and for better or worse our kids have survived, if not thrived, so far.

What I feel when I am approached by a strongly opinionated concerned advice giver is that they’re almost always more interested in their methods, sacrifices, Scriptural interpretations and even mistakes, being validated and accepted.  In some cases, it feels as if they just want to confirm that we are doing it wrong and they are doing or did it right.

I enjoy that we live in a country that values education for our children and has established standards and researched methods.  I am grateful for the freedom to express, voice, and live out my opinions.  And I appreciate that there is a fine line between living within standards and fully allowing variable forms of free living.  The cost of living to free blurring lines of respecting all peoples thus preventing freedom, and the price of living to rigid cutting freedom thus preventing respect.

What saddens me is when opinions over-rule respect.  When being right overcomes relationships.  When gaining validation outweighs perspective.  And, when insecurity squelches thoughtfulness.

For those of us within the Church, whatever the motives, methods, morals, reasons or inspirations, valuing our children’s education enough to make appropriate sacrifices seems to me to be something to encourage each other in, rather than heatedly debate and draw drastic stances on. Producing division rather than unity. Unity not being of the same opinion.  Rather, unity being like-minded in the mind of Christ, who put others before Himself in the ultimate demonstration of love.

Remembering that what our children are schooled in most perceptively is their parents’ heart attitudes, in my opinion, is the greater challenge parents face when debating schooling methods.

“…What you say flows from what is in your heart.” ~ Luke 6:45


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