Last week was the first week of school and it was a tough one. As usual, we woke up later than we should’ve. I had these grand plans the night before the first day to get up at 6am sharp. And that promptly went out the window when I was just going to sleep at 1:30am. Six o’clock was so not happening. When my alarm went off the next morning, I hit snooze no less than five times, and then we all ran around the house like chickens with our heads cut off. And every day for a week I’ve scolded myself to do better, but I’m beginning to think that my body is physically allergic to the mornings.
We live in a small rural town without many options when it comes to education. No fancy private schools anywhere around, not that we could afford that option if we had it. Over the summer I thoroughly investigated our options. We have a handful of small districts that surround our larger district and a local charter school. One of the main reasons we were looking around was because one of my little boys really struggled last year, and we thought a smaller environment might be the solution to what was a very long, hard year for him. Honestly, I really couldn’t get a grasp on what God wanted me to do with my kids. I didn’t feel like homeschool was the option, but I looked into it. I had heard mixed reviews on the charter school, so I did my homework there and decided it was not right for us. I talked to people about other school districts, but I really couldn’t find anyone at any district who was raving about their school. I felt this tug to choose to stay with our local public school, even though the landscape was changing and I wasn’t sure what to make of all the bad press it was garnering.
So, I prayed about it. Worried about it. Talked to myself out loud in the grocery store like a crazy person about it. And one day in my prayer time I got real with Jesus. I told Him I needed Him to speak to me. I needed a word. From Him. About public school. There was something in my mind that felt so wrong about choosing a school district that a lot of people were choosing to leave. And it’s not just the local crowd leaving. I can scroll through my Facebook feed and I have so many friends ditching public school. With them in mind, I tried for months to put on my homeschool hat. I wore it around like my favorite ball cap and after a while, it just didn’t fit. I contemplated our charter school—even dually registered our kids, but after awhile, that just felt wrong too. But, every time I would say out loud “We are going to our district school” it felt both right and wrong all at the same time. Right because I thought God was telling me that that was the way and to walk in it. Wrong in that, choosing public school made me feel like a bad mom. I see clearly all the bad coming into our public schools from really ridiculous curriculum to sex education material. I see it for what it is. Public school is struggling. And so are the administrators and the teachers that work so hard to make our public schools a safe place to learn.
That night after I prayed I read this from my new Internet friend Lori. After I read her words a peace literally washed through my whole body. There was someone else choosing to stay. Not being forced to stay in public school, but choosing to stay there. I finally felt true peace with our choice to go to public—to go to public school in this place beneath the pines. This place isn’t perfect, but it’s ours.
My friend Francie always talks about bringing Heaven to Earth, and I never thought that I would hear her words echoing in my mind concerning my kids schooling. But, that is exactly what my mission is in this town, should be all of our missions—to bring heaven to earth. To be the hands and feet of Jesus to every teacher, administrator, and kid in your school district. He reminded me of all the children, sweet children, some with good homes and some with bad ones. Some that can barely afford one school uniform from Wal-Mart. We live in a school district where a few have plenty, but many kids come to school hungry, and hurting, and angry. It’s hard to worry about your ABC’s when you don’t know if your dad is going to trade your meal money for drug money, or if you are worried about going to the principal’s office for a dress code violation when you were just lucky enough to have a dress to begin with. This is the reality in so many public schools.
There has been a lot of anger in our community this past year. Much of it directed at our school officials. And I do think there is a time for that. A time to speak real concerns. And I see good people that have done that. But, now the voices are just noisy and unrelenting. And at some point the points have been made and the petitions drawn up and you just have to decide that it’s time to rise. To rise above the noise and know that you were heard, and then close your mouth and get boots on the ground and work for the change you want. Change starts with us. With me. With you. Sometimes, you have to be that solution. This is a good town, with good people. But, talk is cheap. And if we really want our public schools to get better, then we have to remember the old adage that, “actions speak louder than words.” Who’s with me?