Thursday, February 3, 2011

The value of a public school education

September 28, 2007
Section: opinion

The value of public school education

"Every child should have the opportunity to receive a quality education."
I'm not sure what Bill Frist's meaning was behind this quote, but I sure know what comes to mind when I read it. It makes me think about the value of a public school education. Public school systems offer a superior education to all children.I am proud to say that I have been educated in one of these systems. I am currently completing my sophomore year at Holland High School. My experience reflects the value of public schools.While at Holland, I've had the opportunity to take part in the Gifted and Talented program and advanced class options. Our high school has numerous Advanced Placement and honors classes, and the varied class choices have given me the opportunity to take four years of Latin.These choices are superb, but what I really love about public school systems like Holland or West Ottawa is the teaching of all students together. I am fortunate to have been born into an upper-middle-class family, but I am still educated with people from all socioeconomic groups, and it really makes me aware of the struggles other people face. The diversity of nationalities and cultures helps students better understand how to interact with people different from themselves.The best part of public school systems, however, is the educating of students with different learning styles together. Public schools provide for whoever comes to the school, whether it's a student with learning difficulties or special needs or one whose first language is not English. Through my experience at Holland, I have befriended and been educated alongside hearing-impaired students, severely multiply impaired students, children with English as their second language, and many other kids with different learning styles and needs. It has enhanced my learning beyond the superior academics public schools offer.Public schools should reflect the community, so when a student is emerging from school into the real world, he or she will know how to interact and have better knowledge about how to help solve the world's problems. When students learn elbow to elbow with people different from themselves, they receive an education in community. John Dewey said, "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." Public schools are a microcosm of the community, so students experience real life.It has been shown that when public school systems fail, the community struggles as well. When people of privilege abandon the public schools to be educated among "peers," not only do they lose all types of necessary diversity, but public schools suffer and become overburdened after losing needed support.Public school systems educate everybody, which is difficult, so they need sustenance. It is a social responsibility for our community to provide for our public schools. Fulfilling this social responsibility does not necessitate losing a very high quality education. Our community has public school systems that provide superior education and create socially aware students, but without continued support, these valuable assets to our community could be lost.I have had a wonderful education alongside a reflection of the community. Advanced students have higher-level class choices and gifted programs, average students have a wide variety of class options, and struggling students have programs and classes to meet their needs. Our community, though, needs to "stick" with public school systems to benefit all, so students in the future can have the education I have so enjoyed. Public school systems benefit the community by offering an exceptional education in academics and life. Every student deserves that.

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