Valuing Public Education 

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

Education is valuable. Quality education, that is. You can find good education and bad in every type – public, private, charter, parochial or home-school.
The loudest criticism seems directed at public education. It makes sense. There are almost ten times as many students in public schools than private. (See the statistics at the Department of Education and the Council for American Private Education.)

The debate has risen to national prominence in the news again this week. Rather than join in the debate (since I have no first-hand familiarity with most education systems), I want merely to give my personal experience in making good with public education.

  • It began with kindergarten through 8th grade in a public elementary school.
  • Four years of public high school.
  • Transferred back and forth beyween two community colleges for five semesters.
  • Two an a half years at a public university.
  • An additional year abroad, but still a public university.
  • Three years of law school at – yet again – a public university.

My career has come along well, yet from the way some people talk they might insist I overcame rather than benefited from the public education I received. Others would say my experience is irrelevant since I went to school way back in the olden days.

Fair enough. Let’s look at my kids.

  • Kindergarten through sixth grade at public school.
  • Junior and senior high school – still public schools.
  • University – public, as you probably expected.

All right, you might think this still irrelevant since my son and daughter are in their mid twenties. What could I possibly know of the current state of local public education?

Again, fair enough. Let’s look at my wife.

In addition to a public education from kindergarten through her teaching credential following her bachelor’s degree, she has taught and continues to teach in public schools both elementary and secondary. She and her colleagues are fantastic at their jobs. You should hear what I hear from parents of her students.

In all my family’s experience we have been able to honor God and his word which says:

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. (Proverbs 18:15.)

My family’s public education experience is not meant to be taken as a criticism of people who prefer other education models, not at all. Home-school, private school (secular or parochial), or other opportunities can be rich and fruitful for students and families. And like public schools, each of those models can also be improved.

The point is to choose an education model that fits and work to make it the best it can be for your children. For millions of us, that’s public.

“What greater gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth?” Cicero


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8 Responses to Valuing Public Education 

  1. Loura Shares A Story says:

    Amen and amen!

    On a separate note entirely (Cicero’s quote reminded me), can you explain what people mean when they claim that America is not in fact a democracy but a republic?

    • Tim says:

      It’s a republic in the sense that it’s not a monarchy or other system that puts people in power other than by people’s choice. As for not being a democracy, I think they mean it’s not an absolute democracy; someone with more expertise than I would have to answer this fully.

      • Loura Shares A Story says:

        Hmm, ok. Thank you. No one else so far has been able to answer this fully. I’m kind of leaning toward folks just throwing words around to sound right, lol.

  2. Loura Shares A Story says:

    I look that up. Thanks!

  3. sparkerlpc says:

    The way I understand it, a democracy governs by popular vote only. Since we elect representatives and have the electoral college, what America is, is actually a republic.

    • Tim says:

      It’s a representational democracy most of the time, and direct democracy some of the time, as well as being a republic as there is no monarch.

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