(This is a guest post by Leah J. Burgess, a wife, mother, minister, trauma informed victim advocate, and blogger at saltlifeandlove.)
We are not the first family and I know we will not be the last to transfer our children out of public school. This is our story; it may mirror yours or people you know. This is our story; it may complement and/or contradict various methodologies, research, and/or opinions about the American public school-to-prison pipelines. But I need for readers to grasp that this is our story. It is deeply personal, intellectual, and oh so spiritual.
Our children have always gone to public school. They are 13, 6, and 6. We have a rising 8th grader and two rising 1st graders. The 2017-2018 academic school year marks our 3rd year living in Maryland and would be our 3rd year of our children attending public school in the same state. However, this academic year is a radical year as our family takes our E X O D U S from our local public schools.
I don’t know if this E X O D U S will be until they graduate high school or this year only. I do know that our children need to be in a different academic environment. We are convinced that our children need to be in a learning space that invests in their academic, social, emotional, and spiritual excellence. A place where maturing spiritually is equally important to academic excellence. Prior to our family’s move our children were attending the dopest public school in Connecticut! They attended CREC Museum Academy and we loved how our children were challenged and encouraged to healthily explore their individual academic, social, and emotional intelligence. In addition CREC Museum Academy complemented the spiritual intelligence that we work hard to instill in our children separate from their school environment. CREC Museum Academy faculty and staff never encouraged religious pursuit or engagement but the core values that faculty and staff’s work is guided by complimented our family’s core values and the moral character we desire our children to have and actively use. CREC Museum Academy is a model school in our eyes and heart!
Fast forward to Spring 2017. My husband and I have decided to take a huge leap of faith. It is the kind of leap that reminds us of a bible story about The Children of Israel leaving Egypt to go to the land that their God promised them.
Public school has been our go-to. It makes sense for a family like ours; because we are experiencing the pangs of financial insecurity due to our family being a one-income household as my husband is a full-time theology student. But this year we too like the Children of Israel are making an E X O D U S .
Our E X O D U S was triggered by our children’s exposure to some of the vilest, inappropriate and in some cases immoral behaviors and language on the bus and in school amongst peers. This E X O D U S is also because we want our children to be challenged academically to excel beyond what they are used to. We are grateful for their teachers and administrators we’ve come to know over the last 2 years. Each of their teachers has cared deeply for our children, but we are convinced that leaving our local public schools is the best we can offer our children at this time. One of our greatest desires is that our children freely blossom into adults who are well rounded, know how to exercise their holistic brilliance, are willing to face challenges, have a great appreciation for the arts and music, and, finally, that our children are developed to invest in the lives of others via mentoring, coaching, and intentionally caring for the communities they live and/or work in. We want our children to learn how to be their full selves inside and outside the classroom.
We don’t know how the kids’ full tuition and uniforms will be paid for but we know that our faith is telling us that it is time to go to our promised land. As parents, we reserve the right to ensure that our children be in academic environments where they are challenged to make a significant contribution to our ever-changing workforce, the communities they will live in, and their future families. I can’t suggest this E X O D U S to anyone else; all I dared to do is share our story.