A Catholic Mom’s Reason For Public School

A Catholic Mom’s Reason For Public School

Full transparency: all of my kids are still in daycare. In fact starting in August, we will have three in daycare (special thanks to Creative Learning Preschool for loving my kids so well). 

My oldest daughter will turn four this October, which has led to one of the biggest discussions from our peers to date: where will she go to big girl school?

When it comes to school options, there are many. However, in many of our Catholic circles, it seemed the question was more about “Which Catholic school will you be sending your kids?” For us, the answer was “none.” 

Faith and Education

We are devout Catholics. My husband and I were raised Catholics, are involved in our parish, and teach our kids catechesis (to the best of our ability). Our faith is a top priority in our home. 

A Catholic Mom’s Reason For Public SchoolI’ve previously written how education is not our family’s number-one priority in our home. We emphasize the importance of respect for others, working hard at something, loving Jesus, and other skills of the like. These skills are not linked to traditional education. 

My husband went to public school his whole life and was an active participant in his home parish. I went to Catholic school my whole life, and was an active participant in my home parish. I can guarantee – the bulk of where I learned about the faith was through my home and through my parish. When we got married, my husband and I agreed: we want our kids’ faith and Catechesis to be fostered in a place that will grow with them. A Catholic Mom’s Reason For Public School

Our reason for public school

I want to emphasize in bold italics: I do not have a problem with private or Catholic schools. I am a firm believer in making the best decision for your children and your family. These are our reasons for choosing to send our children to public school.

  1. Investment: there is only so much money that comes into our home. So, how do we use and spend it? With three kids, we could expect to pay at least $30,000 per year in tuition. One of the most impactful phrases anyone has ever said to me: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Sure, we could make a large sacrifice and swing it, but we also are keenly aware of other opportunities our kids would NOT have without these funds. 
  2. Diversity: we want our kids to be surrounded by other kids of various ethnicities, backgrounds, family dynamics, etc. Neither my husband nor I grew up in a traditional family setting, and it opened our eyes to others’ struggles that we may not have otherwise known. Jesus spent time with and ministered to people of all backgrounds. I want my kids to be able to do the same.
  3. Options: I was grossly mistaken when I thought the only option for my children was the school we were zoned for. From elementary through high-school age, there are many options for students outside of their traditional neighborhood school such as magnet academies, online academy, gifted and talented, and more. 
  4. More than their school: When I moved to Lafayette, I realized that tradition and devotion to certain schools (public or private) ran deeply. I want my kids to know that their impact and their value has nothing to do with the school they attend. When I go to the doctor, I don’t ask where they graduated. When I was dating my husband, it was not important that he attended a particular school. No one I know can solely hang their hat of success on their alma mater. 

A Catholic Mom’s Reason For Public SchoolWe are not (totally) naive

Sure, we’ve heard nightmare stories from public schools. I have also heard nightmare stories from private schools. The truth is, it’s a tough world. While I want to protect my children, I also want to arm them with the knowledge, skills, and trust they need to navigate the tough parts. I believe in conversation over avoidance. 

As my kids grow, their needs may change. The environments where they thrive might be different year to year or child to child. The most important thing to me is they know they’re loved, cared for, and have opportunities before them. We will figure it out – one day at a time.

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.