Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why All Citizens Have a Stake in Their Local Public School

                Small schools are falling on hard times.  A while back Governor Quinn announced that he believed Illinois needed to cut back, dramatically, on the number of school districts.  Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admit, that is not going to be a good thing for small schools.  The smaller the school, the more likely it is to be consolidated.

                Whatever the governor’s, or the government’s, plans may be I believe that all citizens should take interest in their local public school.  Each one of us benefits from the public school system in the United States.  And I write this as the pastor of a Lutheran congregation that operates a parochial (non-public) grade school.

                I do not think that a public school education is appropriate for all students.  I send my children to our Lutheran school.  Yet I also believe that our local communities benefit from having small, locally governed public schools.

                Hoyleton Grade School is a great example of this benefit.  First, it benefits our Lutheran school to have a small public school right down the street.  The public school provides services to students who wish to have a Lutheran, Christ –centered education, but need a little extra help with speech or reading, extra help that the parochial school would be hard pressed to provide.

                Our two schools have a long history of cooperation.  We have a long standing sports cooperative agreement.  Our students ride their bus.  We advertise their fundraisers in our church bulletin.  Several members of our congregation serve as members of the HGS board.  It is easier for our school to get what limited state funds are available to us through the smaller, less bureaucratic, local public school than it would be if the district were much larger.  I believe both schools benefit from this close arrangement.

                Second, a small, local, public school benefits the local community too.  Just as public school is not for everyone, Lutheran school may not be suitable for all either.  While our school will accommodate any student that we can, not all will choose to attend.  For whatever reason, public school is the best option for some families.

                When a student can attend classes a few blocks from home in a school operated by their close neighbors and people who share their values, the whole community is strengthened.  When a parent is likely to run into the board chairman at the grain elevator it is likely that the chairman will want to keep families happy.  When the school board is small and the community is small, one voice (your voice) counts much more than in a larger area.   It is easier to influence the education system when it is small and local.

                   This, of course, is not to mention any of the benefits of having a well-educated society.  Education is good.  I think we can all agree on that.

                I am not suggesting that a public school always does everything right, or that those who run public schools (or any schools for that matter) need our uncritical praise.  I am suggesting that if you have a small, local public school, you will miss it when it is gone, whether you have children there or not. 

                So get involved.  Influence the board of your local school to have the best public education that there can be for your community.  If your children go to a parochial school, count the blessings of having a good relationship with the public school.  There are probably blessings that you don’t always see.  Support and encourage those who fight to keep these local schools open.  There is much work that goes on behind the scenes.  Be a friend to the teachers who work with the local students.  They are guiding and teaching your neighbors.

                I do not know what the future holds for the small, local, public school.  I am, however, thankful for their past work, and I am trying to do my small part to encourage them in the present. 

No comments:

Post a Comment