Education Family Parenting Religion

My child’s school doesn’t make me a bad person

Allison Benedikt, you probably shouldn’t write about things you don’t know about. The “manifesto” you wrote for Slate, “If you send your kid to private school, you are a bad person,” illustrates that you only think you know why people send their children to private or parochial schools. Now that you’ve written you piece, I’ll share mine.

I am a product of parochial school followed by public high school. Thank God my parents had the foresight to provide me with nine strong years of a Christian-based education or I shudder to think where I might be now. I probably wouldn’t be attending church with my kids, or even writing this post. .

My faith is an important part of who I am and I wouldn’t want that any different for my own daughters. We pay tuition, but we also pay our property taxes and play the Lotto. We pay for the school systems and we don’t utilize them. We both work so that we can see to it that our children are given the best foundation for a Christian education possible, like our parents gave to us.

This isn’t about prestige, tradition, a bad school district or that I think my kid is super cute in her uniform. In fact, our district is healthy, strong and scores high in testing. What they lack is a prayer before mealtime, enforcement of our religious ideals and a basis for which my children’s life will be built on: Jesus.

And you may see this as another excuse, or say this exempts me. No. I’d see that as back-peddling, because you wrote this:

“There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate. But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons. Or, rather, the compelling ones (behavioral or learning issues, wanting a not-subpar school for your child) are exactly why we should all opt in, not out.”

None of these are compelling reasons? None? Not even having our children around people who actually share their beliefs and values or, in some cases, be around people who actually have values?

Our pastor gave a sermon shortly after I had read your article and, whether he knew it or not, he was reaffirming why we send our daughter to a parochial school.

As her parent, I am responsible for her faith. It’s like learning a foreign language; Without immersion, it’s just something you do sometimes, like Sunday mornings, or for many just Christmas and Easter.

God’s Word and a Christian education are like nutrients to our body. We have to stay strong and rooted in it or we could fall away. I’m not saying we are perfect, in fact, we are sinners, but developing that deeper relationship with God begins when we are young and only strengths as we get older. The core beliefs are formed and shaped early on.

We aren’t trying to brainwash our children into memorizing the Bible, we are teaching them to know the author, God. The Gospel is good advice and good news and we need to hear it over and over.

Culture doesn’t always support this lifestyle, but that is exactly what it’s so important. It equips our children for a life of faith, despite those around them. It prepares them to go outside of their school doors and witness to others.

I’m a working mother. I don’t have a lot of time to be “involved” with the school. I do what I can. My level of involvement wouldn’t change if I had her at a public school. Therefore, I’d be doing her a disservice by not fighting for a better education, new textbooks, better teachers, new athletic facilities, funded sports programs or anything else. I wouldn’t be attending school board meetings because I have a LOT of things to do and I elected those officials to do what is in the best interest of the district and my child.

I wouldn’t be making a difference. I wouldn’t be the change agent that Allison Benedikt thinks I need to be. And, she admits herself that it would take generations to make that change. Well, no school district is bringing back prayer in the classroom or instituting religion class and chapel, no matter how many generations I wait.

And that, Allison Benedikt, is why I send my daughters to a parochial school.