For any parent, your child’s education is likely near the top of the list of all the things we have to get right. We wring our hands over it because we know how important it is — how one spark, one activity or one teacher can determine the path your child’s life will take.
Fortunately, in the U.S. we have a strong and diverse public school system that provides those life-changing opportunities, as well as other options such as homeschooling and private and charter schools.
For me, sending my children to public school was the right choice.
I live in the North East Independent School District, where my oldest daughter, Grace, graduated from Churchill High School in 2011. My 17-year-old, Caroline, is currently a senior at Churchill, and my son, Broden, is a 7th grader at “rocket school,” an awesome magnet for applied technology at Krueger Middle School.
Over the years, my children have had some amazing teachers who have helped inspire them, shape them, and open their eyes to a larger world. Teachers are truly the biggest strength of public schools. The teachers here in Bexar County have an average of 12 years of experience and one-third hold graduate degrees, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Grace is now a junior in college in upstate New York and she told me that her freshman year was a breeze because of the rigorous education she got at Churchill.
For my kids, extracurricular activities are huge. Both of my daughters were in the nationally-ranked Churchill Marching Band, and Caroline plays on the Churchill varsity soccer team, not to mention a whole host of other activities. She was just crowned Churchill’s homecoming queen—in her band uniform no less—and Broden plays in the Krueger Middle School band.
One of the reasons I wanted them in public schools was so they could experience these victories — and sometimes failures — and learn to be part of a group and work as a team.
Lastly, one of the things I love most about my kids’ schools is that their classrooms are so diverse. I just had a dozen 13-year old boys spend the night for my son’s birthday and I marveled at the diversity just in his small group of friends. I think it’s extremely important for them to interact with people who are different from them, learn to respect other cultures and to have compassion for everyone.
Obviously, I feel very strongly about traditional public school, which is why I am a co-chair for the Go Public campaign, a collaborative effort among all 15 Bexar County school districts to spread positive messages about public school.
I think the notion that public schools are failing our children is unfair and inaccurate. Public schools are not perfect, but they are doing a pretty amazing job with the huge task we have given them to educate everyone regardless of circumstance, ability or background.
Part of the reason this notion has taken hold is that the challenges, controversies and stumbling of public schools make better headlines than “everyone is doing just fine at American High Schools.” I get that.
But here in Bexar County, public schools have decided to be proactive about telling their own story and showing people the great things happening in our local public schools.
The hope is that people will begin to see their public schools in a more positive light and, in turn, be more inclined to love and support them, not just by entrusting them with their children, but by speaking up for them, volunteering for them and helping them grow stronger.
The students across our great community are the ones that need this. They need to hear good things about their schools and their prospects for the future.
It’s for them that I go public.
Kim Bowers is CEO of CST Brands, Inc., one of the largest independent retailers of motor fuels and convenience merchandise in North America. You can find out more about Kim and the Go Public campaign at WeGoPublic.com. Follow the campaign at @WeGoPublic and on Facebook at Facebook.com/WeGoPublic.