untitledEvery year, about this time, I wander around the house, void of common sense, unable to successfully fake socially acceptable behavior or remotely control my emotions in any way. I dread the first day of school for many, many reasons.

Let’s be honest. My children are not ‘normal’ by any stretch of the imagination. I have a brilliant, high functioning 9-year-old on the autism spectrum. He starts a new school tomorrow (which, in our current public school system, he will now do every two years until high school). He has a lovely new ‘tick’ that involves desperately and mindlessly chewing on his tongue as if it will be his last meal on Earth. And the principal that I was so excited to hear Jett would have, announced at the open house that he’s leaving.

My son Dane is finishing his last year at his Elementary school: a school that treated him, his quirks, his disabilities and abilities with the utmost respect for many years. But his beloved principal left last year and things just haven’t been the same.

Our town is in a tough position. Our community TANKED the standardized state tests. We are the 2nd poorest county in Pennsylvania. Dane is struggling with his reading, to say the very, very least. Because of his cerebral palsy he has neurological problems that no public school teacher should be expected to understand. I get that. My kids need more one on one teaching. As a parent I would be remiss if I didn’t look into private schooling. So I did that today.

What I found was absolutely appalling to me.

I will be the first to admit that my family does not go to church. We don’t often discuss religion, practice religion, preach religion or pass on any religious beliefs to our children. We welcome their questions and encourage them to develop their own beliefs. I won’t apologize for it, justify it or be ashamed of the way our children are being raised. They are good kids, really good kids, and they are held to the highest standards when it comes to treating others, as they would want to be treated. Period.

So I looked at the only available alternatives for a smaller classroom in my community. What I found was APPALLING to me. APPALLING.

I am not a hypocrite. I would not send my children to a religious school without being honest about our own beliefs. In my naïve opinion, I thought that these schools would welcome children like mine, hoping to diversify the beliefs that these kids had (or had not been) exposed to. NOT SO. Here is one small piece of the criteria that one religious school required:

  • A commitment of cooperation with the school shall be made by the student and parent. It is expected that at least one parent be a Christian, and that those basic doctrines in the school’s Statement of Faith (below) be accepted.
  • We believe that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.  We do not consider homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism as acceptable alternative lifestyles or sexual “preferences.”  They are incompatible with the divine design for sexuality and the marriage covenant, as well as unhealthy and destructive to individual persons, families, and society.

Well holy heck. That made my decision a helluva lot easier. Saved me a bunch of money too! If that’s what they want to teach their students, have at it. If that’s OK by the parents who send their kids there, that’s their business, not mine. But I, personally, will not sacrifice the many years we’ve spent raising our boys to be open minded, to treat everyone equally, with respect and not to judge, just for the chance to have a more one on one educational experience. I’d rather quit my job(s) and open up home schooling shop in my ‘would be’ photo studio. THAT is a no brainer.

I knew parenting would be hard. I knew being me would make it even harder. I wish I could just grit my teeth, pretend to agree and get my kids the individual attention that they so richly deserve. But that’s simply a lesson I’m not willing to teach.

I’d rather Dane take an extra year or two to read while learning more about the diversity and beauty of life. I’d rather he draw, paint, sing, see a show, meet new people, experience other places and cultures while being nurtured by a family who welcomes the beliefs of everyone, EVERYONE who walks through their front door and into their lives.

That’s my idea of education.