Cognitive Dissonance

Or why I’m still in the public education system despite this mess (or this one.)

My kids attend a very well-regarded northside magnet with good test scores and an emphasis on academic achievement. They also attend a very well-regarded northside magnet with amazing, caring, nurturing teachers, a strong and supportive and engaged parent community, and a curriculum that includes art, music, technology, and P.E. It is amazing that the school does as well as it does with its chronic underfunding and pressure to cure all of society’s ill’s on less per student per year than it costs for full-time daycare. I

It is not a perfect school, but it is a very good school.

I stay at the public school in the city because it is hard-wired in me from childhood to support public education. To a paraphrase a friend and fellow school parent, I live this commitment to public education.

I stay because I don’t think I can effectively advocate for change from the outside. I stay because I “can’t”* afford private school. I stay because my kids’ teachers are so freaking awesome—from the art teacher who made The Girl feel special one morning in 2nd grade when she was feeling low and didn’t want to go to school, to her current 5th grade teacher who knows when to give her a hug and when to talk through a problem with her, to #3’s 3rd grade teacher who inspired him to work harder by making a sports analogy, to The Boy’s 7th grade math teacher who is not only teaching him 9th grade algebra, but doing so with kindness and open mind. I stay because my fellow parents all want to do the best by/for our children. I stay because quitting when you don’t like something (rather than working to change it) isn’t the value I want my kids to have about education or work, but perseverance is a value I want them to have.

I am a questioner. I am a critical thinker. I spend a lot of time thinking about these issues, reading about them, and talking/typing about them. For me, this questioning and thinking and talking isn’t a wholesale condemnation of my (kids’) individual public school or of the whole system, although I can see why someone would reach that conclusion. I think there are problems everywhere—nothing is ever going to be perfect, but (to me) there is value in the discussion, even though to outsiders it may seem like constant complaining.

* can’t being a relative term, a shortened form of “I have chosen a different path, which makes it difficult for me to afford private school.”

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