Movies and TV shows tend to depict kids and teenagers as always dreading school. They groan at the sound of their alarm, drag themselves out of bed and sheepishly walk into school where they spend less than pleasant days. I was never one of those kids. Although waking up early got more challenging as the years progressed, I valued the time I spent at school and I was always ready to learn and interact with my teachers and peers. Those of us that are lucky enough to attend good public schools know the value in what we learned apart from just what we read in our textbooks.
School is the most vital element in determining what kind of people we become and how we are going to navigate the world. Not only are we taught basic principles of the four main subjects of science, math, history and English, we are molded into members of society by the people that the public school system brings into our lives.
Classmates, whether they become your enemies or your best friends, play an important role in the process of growing up. We are taught how to defend ourselves and how to treat people with respect. We become leaders or we become followers. We learn whether or not we’re extroverts or introverts, or maybe a little bit of both. From the minute we are enrolled in school we start making decisions regarding who we want to surround ourselves with which makes an impact on the end result of who we become.
Another important aspect of the best public schools is the diversity within them. When my family and I moved from northern Virginia to a more southern part of Virginia, my brothers and I noticed how separated kids of different races were at school. We had been used to seeing kids who were decedents of parents from dozens of different countries and since things like racism and prejudice are taught, all of the kids interacted with each other without bias. Since this school was desegregated during a later time than our previous school, the evidence of its slow progression in diversity was still noticeable.
Having friends from different cultures and witnessing the kind of prejudice that still exists taught me lessons regarding inclusivity and general humanity towards others. If we are not exposed to people’s different experiences, we never learn how to become sympathetic to the struggles that other people endure. The public school system is not perfect in this area but it has made progress through the years and ensuring that all students, regardless of their background, receive the same quality of education should remain a focal point when discussing the future of public education.
Teachers become mentors and the lessons they teach aside from the curriculum is what really helps students grow up. For kids with working parents, it’s common that they will spend more time with their teachers than they do with their parents in one day. That fact is never lost on the best public school teachers and they become a safe place to land. The advice my teachers gave me through the years and the examples that they set for me led me to not only choose a career path but determine how to use that path to help others.
Some classrooms even start to feel like home if you spend enough hours of your week inside of them. Sometimes entering a particular room within a big school can offer a sense of relief and it becomes the part of the day you look forward to. I’m always going to remember my safe haven from high school and my hope is that every student finds theirs.
Good public schools provide quality education and accommodate all of its students. The public school system is not perfect, nothing is, but it’s important to invest in public schools so that they can provide the best education to their students. An investment in the education of children is an investment in the future and unfortunately the current administration is neglecting to look at it that way. I don’t want younger generations to receive the same education I did, I want them to receive better.