School Choice: The Lack of Supportiveness

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Recently, I was in a setting with a new group of moms and was one of the only ones who sent my child to a different school. As small talk began, the question of which school my children attended came up. Of course, I am a proud mom, and I talked about their school and grade and how much he enjoys going daily. Then the looks I received after made my face feel flush. Not much was said other than a few head nods from the group. I immediately knew. I was being judged for where I sent my kid to school. 

As their conversation quickly shifted to a new topic, I sat in awe of how my parenting choices were questioned as my child’s school was perceived as less. All the thoughts started running through my mind, questioning my parenting choices. I wondered if I had made a mistake and if they knew something more than I did. 

After these particular conversations got me thinking, I started to wonder where the supportiveness went when discussing school choice. At least in the Indianapolis area, school choice is a hot topic. A lottery system is in place, and although it has changed to become more equitable over the years, there are still schools that people cross their fingers to get into. 

As a parent of a public school student and a public school teacher, I have the highest admiration for all teachers, no matter where they teach. And I get it: With a low-paying career and the public eye always stating their opinions of what should be taught, it can become an underappreciated profession. But what I can tell you is that every teacher loves your child and does the best with the resources they are given. 

Although, when I woke up the next day, I had a bit of clarity, realizing parents, including myself, are making the best choices for their families. Each school has a specialty, whether it broadcasts it or not. You want your kid in a small school. Go for it. You want your child to go to a free school. Easy. You want your child to go to a more student-led school. Awesome. Follow your child’s lead. They will make friends. They will find daily successes. Most importantly, they will be a kid. And you, as their parent, will support their school journey and adjust as needed. 

While my situation really upset me and made me think differently about those parents and even the school they associated with, I knew I wasn’t going to stoop to that level. I was going to show support. I was going to find the positives in their parenting decisions and not follow up with judgment or, equally worse, competition

As the next few months progress, realize that anxiety is high for so many parents, especially those in the beginning years, as they are sending their oldest ones off as Preschoolers and/or Kindergarteners. They are nervous enough and don’t need established school parents or even family members to question their choices. Do me a favor: Support another parent this week. Tell them what an amazing job they are doing. Praise the school they send their kid to. Just be positive. 


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