Are you a public school hater? Do you know any public school haters? Don’t be too quick to judge! It would be nice to be able to walk up to people and just ask them, but it’s not that simple. Nobody I know ever answers the public school question with a simple yes. Even the most pure public school haters give some sort of convoluted answer. They’ll say they think public schools are great, but ….. insert true feelings here. It’s what comes after the “but” that I have found to be the true test of a person’s opinion on public schools. True feelings are shrouded in arguments that make sense to people who just casually listen. School choice, a child’s needs, safety or bullying issues, test scores, and many others are all very valid explanations of why they made a personal decision for their child’s education. Haters take these personal reasons and manipulate them to ATTACK public education to convince other parents to make the same choice!
Take school choice for example. I personally believe in school choice. I think a parent’s right to choose what is best for them is a fundamental right in Oklahoma. Want to send your child to a Magnet school for fine Arts, to Classen School of Advanced Studies, OSSM, to a school that offers Advanced Placement courses, to a smaller school, to a bigger school, or even to the private school? Great! Want to convince thousands of parents they should support school choice because public schools are failing? Hater!
For the record, we have school choice in Oklahoma; parents can move/transfer among public schools, are free to home school their children, or to pay tuition to any private school. (I don’t put much stock in the counter argument of some parents just can’t move to a good school). But that is not good enough for haters. Haters want to discredit and belittle public education. Haters constantly search for any tidbit of information they can twist, manipulate, or magnify so public education looks ineffective. You hear the mantra that taxpayers are “not getting a good return on their investment”. Ever notice public school haters want to look at the average of all the testing data and then make comparisons to the world’s best students? Let’s face it, looking at public school testing averages are more of an indication of the students in the schools than the teachers. You think that is harsh? Students who score advanced on EOIs or 30s on the ACT sit in the same classes with the same teachers as students who don’t. So how can this be an indictment of public schools? Yet, they still use it. Ever since OHLAP took effect, more students are taking the ACT test, ACT scores are rising, and Oklahoma colleges and universities have record enrollments. All good indications public schools are doing better than they have ever before. However, no hater ever points this out.
Here is the number 1 problem between haters and public educator supporters. Haters look at public schools and see the AVERAGE is not as good as the elite. To them, it is always about the average and not the individual. Public school supporters look at the individual kids. We see where they were before and where they are now. We see the struggles, the successes and failures, and we see the kids. We know we aren’t perfect; we recognize that even 1 public school student who doesn’t meet their potential is tragedy. If a parent is dissatisfied with our work, then we support that parent’s right to choose something different. However, we don’t support haters using a parent’s right to choose and trumped up evidence to suggest public schools are failing. It is simply not true. Just remember when you hear the next argument against public education, take a serious look at their reasoning; are they trying to explain why they made the decision or trying to convince you to do the same.