“Like so many families across the country, my oldest child’s education experience changed dramatically during COVID-19. Of course, this was a unique period of time for everyone, not just in education. As a professional counselor, I will often talk to patients in terms of pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. It was a traumatic and confusing time, so I understand that everyone was struggling a bit through it.
However, it was more than just the pandemic disruption that shifted our view of what we wanted for our kids when it came to education. Over the course of the last few years, our values changed, our community shifted, and what we wanted for our children no longer aligned with what was provided at our public school.
On top of that, our daughter experienced a situation with another student that we felt was poorly handled by the administration – a situation where we legitimately feared for our daughter’s safety.
In the end, we decided to enroll in a private Christian school. Given my mom’s connection with public schools, and our own background in supporting public schools, we were pretty nervous that doing so would almost feel like a betrayal. Fortunately, the decision was really well received and we are so glad that we did it.
There is no doubt that public schools play an important role, not just in our local community, but in the bigger picture. My husband and I both grew up in public schools here in Arkansas, and my mom has been a public school counselor for most of her career. We had a great experience with public schools and were excited to send our children there when they started kindergarten.
Education keeps us competitive in the world, so I’m incredibly grateful for public schools. But there have to be other options for families that don’t fit into that pathway. We were fortunate enough to be able to shift pretty easily. It is still hard, though, knowing that our tax dollars are going to pay for an education our kids are not getting, while we pay a separate tuition.
I’m so glad they recently passed the LEARNS Act to invest in school choice. I think it will improve opportunities amongst families, as well as drive better performance among schools through competition. Our Christian school is currently examining it to see how it will positively impact our school, but I know that it is the right step forward for Arkansas.
We love watching our kids excel at school and having access and transparency with teachers. It’s important to us that we had the choice when it came to education. We’re so thankful it is a choice that can extend to more families across Arkansas.”
Arkansan, professional counselor, and mom of two elementary-age kids