Teachers unions and politics are intertwined.
Wherever you find big teachers unions you will find less school choice. It seems like it would be the inverse but sadly, no.
A couple of years ago, I snagged a copy of Rebecca Friedrichs’ book “Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers Unions for the Heart and Soul of Our Kids and Our Country.” Boy was it an eye opener. (You can purchase it using the link above.) Teachers unions are corrupt, plain and simple. They are used for political control and to ostracize and ultimately expel any educator who does not conform to woke, progressive ideology. The stories in Friedrichs’ book of precious teachers who love children enough to push back on an issue the unions like, are truly heartbreaking.
In California (where the teachers unions control the political climate), the idea of dropping our kids off at a public school was not one we were willing to consider. The strong push for things like gender ideology and critical race theory scared us and rightfully so.
Whatever your educational goals for your children, I’m sure you, like me, want to parent your own child. You want their teachers to teach math and science and literature and world history and to leave the rest to you, since you are, after all, their parents.
Unless you’re drinking the kool-aid too, the educational goals of the teachers unions are not your goals. They don’t care that your son would thrive best in a setting where he can run and kick a ball, but they care deeply that he would be allowed to pick his own gender when he’s 5. (This happened in the town we moved out of in California. You can read the story here: https://amp.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article207214249.html. Spoiler alert – the teacher told kindergarteners their classmate was transitioning into another gender and they were to address the child using new pronouns. No forewarning was sent to the parents and even though many were outraged, the teacher was named “Teacher of the Year.”) Big teachers unions don’t care that your kids be inspired to live a virtuous life. (In their economy, a virtuous life might be burning down businesses and churches.) They care that you conform to whatever societal upheaval they deem a worthy political goal.
In California, our children attended a private school and a conservative charter school. One of the misconceptions I had about public school in general is that they are all the same state to state. Thankfully, I was wrong! Our experiences with the schools in Tennessee are consistent with the dominant ideas important to our family, and prevalent here in our new state. You can check them out here: http://redstateramblings.com/is-quality-of-life-better-in-a-red-state/. Simplicity of life is celebrated so a lot of nonsense is avoided. Teachers teach instead of using precious kids to make a political point. Because family is important, parents aren’t kicked out of school board meetings and labeled “domestic terrorists.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/01/13/school-board-association-domestic-terrorism/. Because we aren’t freaking out that a 10 year old hasn’t chosen which one of the 58 genders he most identifies with, we can do things like offer far better opportunities for extracurriculars like…sports! If your kids love sports, you are going to be very happy if you put them in a Tennessee school!
Here are three tips to remember while you’re selecting schools in your new red state…
Do your research…
If you’re planning a move, a lot of your school research can happen before you step foot in your new state. While we were still in California, I emailed principals from three schools our house was zoned for and a private school as well. Each one of these fabulous people were so welcoming and not at all irritated we were coming from California. They patiently answered my questions and our son’s high school principal even shared her story of moving here from Philadelphia when she was a sophomore and how she’s loved it ever since. Another thing I did when we were still in California was to apply for an “Out of Zone Transfer Request.” The woman I worked with at the County Department of Education was polite, fast and just helpful all around.
The great thing about having less rules for good citizens is the way educational opportunities abound! There are SO MANY homeschooling co-ops and many wonderful private school options. (A quick note on private schools here: Be sure to look up tuition costs. You may find, as we did, the private schools are more expensive than they were in California. Hot tip though – a sweet girl at our local Trader Joes told me it’s a great idea to apply for financial aid if there’s a school you really want your kids to attend. She attended a private school all the way thru on financial aid and she explained that Tennessee is big on helping families in this way.) Which leads me to my next point…
Don’t assume anything until you actually move into the neighborhood…
Nothing helps make the final school choice for your family like actually living in the community. Our research back in California was important because the tours with the principals were lined up and I had a general idea of things. However, we hadn’t decided where any of our four children would attend school until we moved into the community. A very hospitable friend invited us to dinner at her home with a lovely woman who works for the Department of Education. She was the first one who told us that the school two of our kids were zoned for wasn’t one she would send her children to. Being from another world entirely, it was very helpful. Her opinion was confirmed by three other people we met in the community. With this information, we were able to make an Out of Zone Transfer Request and put our kids in a newer school with a better reputation.
I remember feeling so confident before we moved that I knew the school I wanted our kids to attend in Tennessee. I had located what is called a “unit school” about 25 minutes away from our home. (If you don’t know, a “unit school” out here is a K-12 school. They tend to be in the smaller towns and they tend to have higher academic and safety rankings than the public schools in bigger cities.) After we toured the school I was hoping to get my kids into, my husband and I decided the drive just wasn’t worth it so we stuck with schools 10-12 min away from our home. (This has proven to be very helpful to our day to day life and it’s also helped our kids meet neighbors on their street who go to their school, creating a great community feel.)
Remember, you’re free!
The time I spent freaking out in California about how we were going to educate our children was wasted time. Literally having only two options that would work for our home (and neither in the town in which we lived) was not ideal. Very limited opportunities for sports and extracurriculars were the natural consequence of very limited school choice. Here in Tennessee, we’re free. We’re free to try out our local public school because we aren’t afraid of the newest woke agenda hypnotizing the rational people we now find ourselves neighbors with. We’re free to switch it up and homeschool if we think our child would be better served without losing the opportunity for that child to play on his local high school sports teams. (This is something several of our new friends are doing.) Because of the dominant idea that family is important, this means parents are the authority and children have a right to be educated in the unique way that serves them best. Shocking!
By far, the schooling choice was the decision that caused me the most unrest. Even though I had met the teachers and walked the campuses, I knew, at the end of the day, I didn’t really know the people who would be teaching our children. However, I knew their dominant ideas because I saw the fruit of them in their speech and in the way the schools were managed. More importantly, I knew God’s promises to lead my husband and I as we sought to glorify Him in our parenting, to be with my kids in their new schools and to hear my prayers. These promises were true in California and they would be true here in Tennessee.
I pray wherever you are, you take comfort today in His promises both to you and to your children!