Woodlawn High School is a public school located in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. 

Courtesy of Wikimedia

According to a Time Money article, one in four students in New Orleans and one in five students in Baton Rouge attend a private school, giving the cities the first and fourth highest rate of private school enrollment in the United States, respectively. Private schools are not the only alternative school choice widely used in Louisiana. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 80,100 students in Louisiana were enrolled in a charter school for the 2015-2016 school year, meaning 11.25 percent of all students enrolled in Louisiana were enrolled in a charter school. More and more parents are choosing to forgo sending their children to public school in favor of other school types.

Public schools are one of the most valuable resources the U.S. has to offer, and more parents should choose to utilize them. Just because a school is private does not automatically mean it is of a higher quality than its public counterparts. There are many excellent public schools just as there are many private schools that struggle to produce well-educated students. A quality education does not have to come with a huge price tag.

An obvious reason that parents would send their children to private or charter schools instead of public schools is if their local public school is low achieving. However, even if you have the knowledge and resources to send your child to private schools and choose to do so, you should still care about what goes on at your local public school.

Many children have no other option. Their parents do not have the economic resources to afford private school tuition and were never taught how to seek out scholarships or charter school admission. These students still matter and will still grow up to be adults who are the future of our cities, states and nations. Why wouldn’t we want them to be as well educated as possible?

Growing up, I took for granted the excellent education I received in public school. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized how fortunate I was to have the public school experience I did and how many other graduates of public school could not say the same. Now I know many public schools offer a far less than acceptable education. However, I still have faith and pride in the institution of public school. The system can be fixed if we take the time and effort to fix it instead of abandoning public schools altogether in favor of other types of schools.

The general public should be more aware of what is going on at their local public schools. For an institution responsible for educating the future, arguably the most important job in all of society, people pay little regard to how they operate. The apathetic mentality that the quality of a local school does not matter unless your child is a student there is the mentality that got American schools to their current state in the first place. The quality of a child’s education should not depend on whether or not their parents can afford to write a tuition check.

A better public school means a better society. A better public school means that in the future you will no longer have to send your children to an expensive private school to guarantee they are getting a good education. Everyone always wants America to be the greatest country on Earth, and ensuring all our children receive a quality education is a great way to start.

We need to know who our school board members are, what kids are being taught in local schools, where they allocated money is going and who is teaching them. Then we need to demand more when their needs are not being met. We all need to do better. America’s children deserve it, and it will make for a better tomorrow for all of us.

Anna Coleman is a 19-year-old mass communication junior from Kennesaw, Georgia.

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