Pro Public School by Krystal

Krystal is such a beautiful, sweet, caring and just plain AWESOME schoolteacher and woman. She is helping me today by explaining why she is PRO public school:

It has been said that to teach is to touch lives forever… I often wonder whose life is really being touched though…. While I certainly hope that I touch the students and leave a lasting impression on them, I know that they are touching me more than I ever could have imagined. I truly love my students.

I have been an elementary school teacher for 5 years now and absolutely love my job! I teach in a public school for a large school district in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a product of public education and I believe in public education 100%. It is because of some of the wonderful teachers I had that I chose to become a teacher also. I do not teach in a public school for the money (we all know there isn’t much money to be made in education), but I teach because of the love I have for children and for the joy and satisfaction I get as I watch my students learn and grow each year.

I believe that all children deserve a FREE quality education from a licensed professional and believe that public school districts are doing a good job at providing a quality education to the children in their communities.

Recently, I found out that I had a mild form of skin cancer that would require surgery to remove all of the cancer and prevent it from spreading… as you can imagine, the first thing I did when I got off the phone was research the cancer, the procedure that needed to be done, and the doctor that would be performing the surgery… I wanted to make sure she was a licensed, trained expert in the field of dermatology.  I wanted to see where she had gone to medical school and completed her residency.  Since she is new to the medical office I visit, I wanted to know why they chose HER to represent their company and be assured that I would be safe in her medical care… I wanted to know that I could trust her.

I think this same analogy works with public school teachers… you need to be aware of the person that is “caring” for your child for a good part of their day… you want to know WHY the principal chose him/her over all the other applicants that interviewed for the job… (or if the teacher has been there for a while, you are likely to ask neighbors about positive or negative experiences they have had in the past when their children were in that teacher’s class so that you can make an educated decision).  

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is no way I would have my surgery done by someone who woke up one morning and thought “hey, I think today I want to learn how to be a dermatologist.”  I want a doctor who has been through the best medical training program available, and who has completed a full medical residency as well as specialty training in the area of dermatology under the close supervision of a “mentor” doctor.  

That is how it works in public schools.  We recruit the best licensed teachers possible, and we give them a mentor to work one on one with for the first 3 years of their teaching career to see that they get off to a good start.  We provide classes to help them become better in the areas that they struggle.  We don’t just throw them in a classroom unprepared.  College courses and student teaching helps prepare them to get the job, and we help them become successful and effective in their teaching career.

Unlike charter schools where anyone who wants to work as a teacher can, in a public school, all of the teachers have completed either a traditional 4-year education program through a university, or they have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific content area and complete an additional 2 – 3 semesters of coursework related to teaching in order to become a licensed teacher.

Many teachers go on to complete master’s degrees and are committed to continual learning and growth through professional development and post-graduate work. Some teachers will continue on to earn PhDs, certificates in administration, or other content area endorsements (such as reading, math, gifted education, etc.)

All public schools in my district provide 1 gifted-endorsed teacher per grade level to meet the needs of accelerated learners (which is what I do in my classroom).  Additionally, every school has 2 – 3 full time reading specialists and resource teachers, a social worker, child psychologist, and a speech and language pathologist to further meet the individualized needs of children.

We have a technology specialist to help the teachers create interactive lessons using technology-enhanced classrooms, which are now available in every classroom in our district. Public schools have many great programs available for your students. Beginning in elementary school, there are “dual immersion” programs allowing your child to learn Chinese, French, or Spanish in an immersion setting where half of every day is taught in the targeted language.

As students enter junior and senior high, there is a variety of college or trade school preparations available. Students can complete concurrent enrollment classes or an International Baccalaureate program and graduate from high school with their associate’s degree, saving them 2 years worth of college credits. If your student is interested in learning a trade skill such as cosmetology, dental assisting, mechanics, construction, culinary arts, or health sciences, they can enroll in a technical institute and complete the requirements for their high school diploma while also learning the skills necessary to enter the workforce after graduation.

There are many advantages to enrolling your children in public education. As a school district we believe that students deserve to have access to the highest quality educators available in the teaching profession. All teachers must be licensed through college coursework and national exams. Teachers must complete 100 relicensure points every 5 years in order to remain an active, licensed teacher in the state. These hours are earned by completing professional developments, trainings, serving on school committees, etc. and most teachers have far more than the necessary 100 points because of their love of learning and commitment to their profession.

One of the most common concerns I hear from parents is that they are worried about what their child will be “exposed to” at a public school… well, we live in the real world, and part of being a good parent is teaching your child in your home what you stand for outside of the home. Sadly, teachers cannot prevent every unkind or profane word that will come out of other children’s mouths, which is why it is important for parents to communicate with their children. 

Within the walls of my classroom I teach my students how to be good citizens and give lessons on kindness, sharing, respect, and anti-bullying.  Our school district promotes “community of caring” values and the PTA recognizes students who are “caught being good,” so-to-speak, and gives these children various prizes and rewards throughout the year.

The best advice I can give to all parents is to be involved and be aware. My classroom is always open for parents who want to come in and give of their time to read with a child or help me with a project. Your presence in the classroom can and WILL make a difference in your child’s education. As a parent, you are aware of your child’s peers and you see what is going on in the classroom.  Whether you just come in once to help with a party, or you come in as a volunteer on a regular basis, you will be better able to help your child face the challenges that they will inevitably face both in school and in life.

Now, as great as public education is, we are all highly aware of the hard times public schools have faced in the current economic recession. Budget cuts are real, and they affect both teachers and students. Yes, class sizes have increased, and may continue to increase as the recession wears on.  But I would hope that this would not be the reason you would not enroll your child in a public school.  Never let that discourage you or think that larger classes means low-quality education.

I have taught small classes of 21 children, and much larger classes of 27 to 29 children. For me, the numbers don’t matter… what matters is that each and every child in my classroom is learning at their own differentiated level and that their needs are being met. The QUALITY of education in my classroom is the same, regardless of the QUANTITY of students I have in a given year. For more information on the state of Utah’s schools today (both public and charter), I would encourage you to read the state Superintendent’s address given last November; it paints a very accurate picture of where education stands today:

President Obama spoke to students last year and I appreciated some of his remarks to the children:

“At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed …the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.”

Our President brings up a good point here… it doesn’t matter if your child is at the best school in the nation, or one that needs improvement (or at a home or charter school).  At the end of the day, it’s all about the attitude of the student.  There have been countless classes through high school, college, and graduate school that I often didn’t see the point of at the time… but my education made me a well rounded person, which is sort of the point of a public education.  Like it or not, some classes you just have to take.  

I would have never studied things like the geology of the world’s oceans if there were some way to graduate without that *one* science credit… but I worked my tail off and learned a LOT in that class.  Who knew I would need to teach things like phases of the moon and how ocean tides affect the moon in SECOND grade? WOW… not me!  But I did not give up when I was failing and I ended up passing the class.  It would have been easy to throw in the towel and say, “Oh, who needs this anyway?”  But I valued my education enough to not give up.

This is why I teach and why I believe in public education.

What do you think of Krystal’s different points? Are you PRO public school? If so, why? If you are wary of public school and don’t agree with these points, why?

Its discussion time…GO!


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