It’s been my experience that people are quick to criticize Los Angeles public schools. Critics contend that classrooms are over-crowded and poorly funded. They believe students are undisciplined and unprepared for the future. However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would instead like us to acknowledge all that is good within our public schools.
After a twelve year career as a public school teacher, and now as a parent of a child attending a public school, there really are many reasons to be thankful.
- Teachers. Most teachers are there because they genuinely care. They believe in children. They are excited about learning and want to instill that same excitement in their students. They didn’t choose this profession for the paychecks (or summer vacation). Most teachers became teachers because they felt a calling and a desire to make a difference in a child’s life.
- School staff. It takes a team effort to make a school run efficiently and effectively. Everyone plays a part in your child’s academic experience. Every adult on campus has the number one job duty of keeping each child safe. Don’t overlook supervision assistants, office technicians, library aides, the school nurse, custodial staff, and support personnel.
- Exposure to diversity. Many Los Angeles schools have extremely diverse populations (both student and staff) thus providing our children with lessons in acceptance. Our children are learning that not everyone speaks the same language, wears the same types of clothes, or eats the same types of foods at lunches. And that’s all okay.
- Life lessons. Schools don’t just teach our children academic curriculum. Schools are also helping our children develop into respectful world citizens. It is at school that our children are presented with life lessons they may not have learned at home. For example, how will your child handle it when his best friend asks to copy his homework? Will your child come forward and tell her teacher that it was her seat mate that threw the eraser across the room?
- Community. Whether or not you’re fortunate enough to attend your neighborhood school, public schools do their best to foster a sense of community. Within a school setting, a child quickly learns the importance of teamwork and cooperation. A school requires a joint effort to be safe and clean. That’s when our children learn first-hand that everyone can make a difference and everyone’s efforts are important.
- Belief in a well-rounded education. Despite decreased budgets, public schools continue to acknowledge the need for an education that extends beyond the traditional 3 “R’s.” Public schools will tirelessly fundraise to try and provide our children access to computers, a school library, physical education programs, and the arts. Schools realize that these additional programs are “essential extras.”