Why I Chose Public Schools

A little while back I had a conference with Magnolia’s principal and teacher. We got to talking about the ways in which her school program was a “magnet.” I was new to the area and new to the concept of Magnet Schools. If you are unfamiliar, I’ll give my perception but it’s not the official definition: Magnet programs adopt a special curriculum which focuses their school on a “specialty” which is aimed to attract students and families. So, Maggie’s school, as an environmental magnet, should attract people all around the city (not just a particular neighborhood) to attend the school, who are interested in any kind of “environmental studies.” So, what makes it an environmental school? It sits on 39 acres. Students have access to a planetarium. They have Partner In Education days where students get to do outdoor activities such as sledding or fishing. There’s a greenhouse, and an outdoor garden, and last year a geologist came with a fancy digger to take a very deep sample of soil, and explain the layers. Pretty nice for an elementary program. While this had a lot to do with choosing which magnet school I liked for Magnolia, it’s not why I chose the public school system.

I operate under the assumption that my kids are smart enough to succeed at most any school and that the education they receive will be good enough because they will make the most of it. So if you take the quality of curriculum out of the decision, what’s left?

When Eleanor came home and said, “I saw a pregnant teenager and heard the F-word five times,” I thought, good. That wouldn’t have happened in the middle school in Chelsea, Michigan. When Maggie’s principal said, “Some of these kids have never seen soup made and have never eaten a meal cooked from raw food,” I was like really? I thought that only happened on Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution. One of Maggie’s classmates lives without hot water. The poverty she sees belongs to a real person – one of her friends. She also told me, “Someone on the bus asked me if I live with my mom or my dad.” I said, “What did they say when you told them you live with both?” She said, “They were like, ‘You don’t have to rub it in.'” I know she felt confused, but I think that’s good. I want her to have to think through that. I want the kids to be a part of the community in which we live, and experience the culture of Indianapolis. That’s why I chose the public school system.

Published by jody sparks

Jody Sparks Mugele spent her first career in marketing writing and leading teams of writers and editors. After her son came out as transgender in 2015, she dedicated herself to advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For two years, she led the Indianapolis regional chapter of PFLAG, a nationally renowned LGBTQ+ advocacy group. She has given many conference talks about parenting trans kids, healthcare in the trans community, and suicidality among LGBTQ+ youth. And with GenderNexus, an Indianapolis-based advocacy organization, she created programming and led support groups to work with parents to help their children through all aspects of gender transition. She recently moved to Northeast Georgia where she is excited to develop opportunities to continue to strongly and proudly advocate for LGBTQ+ members of our society. She also LOVES kitschy Christmas crafting!

4 thoughts on “Why I Chose Public Schools

  1. This is great. I’ve never heard this type of mindset from a parent, concerning their childrens’ schooling. I think it’s perfect, and I completely agree. In my experience, public school prepared me for the real world. I saw and experienced things I would have been shielded from at a private school. It jump started my maturity and left me prepared to be a contributing member of the real world once I left high school!

    Great post, keep em’ coming!

  2. An interesting and enlightening post, Jody. Thanks for sharing.

    We opted for the public school route, too, and haven’t regretted it for a moment. (I think St. Louis has a lot in common with Indianapolis, judging by some of your observations!)

  3. Thanks for sharing this. Anna Li lives in the “poorer” part of Ann Arbor so it’s more ethnically and economically diverse than the other things. Like you, I’m glad she gets to experience friends with other life experiences.

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