I guess the quick answer for parents of over a thousand children, just from the Helena schools area, to the question of whether public schools would be harmful to their children, would be yes. These parents are paying more than $300 a month per child to get their children educated in private education even though they already are forced to pay property and income taxes for the state schools. They are paying even more than the more than $300.00 a month, by having one of the parents stay home, if they are doing homeschooling.
Why would parents feel they could not trust the Helena Public Schools? In all my dealings with the Helena Public Schools in the last two years, I've had two really heart rending moments. One was at the end of a VERY LONG public hearing about teaching sex to little children. It was late and I thought I'd heard it all and nothing at all could move me, but I waited for the last speaker. His voice was just a little broken as he spoke. He said "I used to be over on that side" and he pointed to the microphone which had long gone silent, the microphone where Planned Parenthood and all their supporters for this sex program had run out of speakers more than an hour earlier , "But now I'm on this side". He said ,"I'm 35 years old now and my daughter is 19. I will never get over the regret that I have because I did not get to be a part of her life growing up. I realize now that programs like this sex education influenced me to be sexually promiscuous at the age of 16 . I don't want this to happen to anymore children, and that is why I am here tonight." His testimony was compelling. I felt so bad for him, and I knew he was right. Sexualizing children early with too much information is harmful to them.
The second most heart rending moment was at the school board meeting on Tuesday night. It came at the end of the meeting when a lady got up to speak during public comment. She got up to speak, and then she was crying so hard she could hardly speak.Her daughter is only 14 years old and she found drugs in her locker.Her daughter is being influenced by friends who do drugs.She wanted to know why the school wasn't doing searches of lockers. I want to know where these drugs are coming from and why our public schools seem to have these problems and our private schools don't. One of the student board members confirmed the culture of smoking and drugs on campus at Helena High. I got up once again to point out the obvious, DARE is not an effective program. Familiarizing our students with drugs does not discourage the use, it encourages it by making it more common and almost a challenge for some. If you don't want young children to play with your very sharp knives, you don't take them all out and show them to the child, this would only give him/her the idea. You put them away.
So, yes, sadly I would have to say I think public schools today can be harmful to children, but it's not just the sex and drugs. Do parents send their precious children to school to advocate for special interest groups? As I was passing by the reader board at Four Georgians Elementary School the other day they were advocating to "wear pink" for breast cancer. I know the children train for the Governors Cup Run every year. Maybe this is just for exercise, but there are many other runs and they don't train for them. Should kids have to worry about cancer? Sadly some young lives are impacted by this, they or their parents get cancer, but this is rare. I grew up in a time when many children were getting polio, I hardly knew about it. I went out and played and didn't have to carry this burden. It's only now that I realize it could have happened to me. I'm so glad I grew up in a time when children were allowed to be kids. You didn't have to worry about all these grown-up things. Now advocacy seems almost constant. Every fall the football players and all the kids are pressured to wear pink advocacy T shirts for breast cancer awareness or just to wear pink, now it's in the spring too. Let's be honest, this isn't about raising awareness, this is about raising money, and the schools are allowing our children and our public facilities to be used for this purpose.Should schools have the right to decide what we advocate for or is this a personal matter?
Are there other advocacies in our schools?You bet there are. How about animal rights? One year the elementary school I worked at had the white tailed dear as our school animal. Children whose parents hunted deer were confused by that. How about rain forests, recycling and global warming? Should children have to worry about environmental crisis that probably don't even exist or are exaggerated?
How about mental health? Should elementary students have to worry about schizophrenia ,paranoia and bipolar personalities? It's in their new health curriculum. How about starvation? Should children be constantly collecting food for food share as if the population around them were all dying of hunger?
Not only are all these advocacies stressors on our youngsters, they take away the time they need for a full and rigorous education. When the president from Montana State University Bozeman came to my daughters campus to speak to the professors his talk was on holding the line. That's right, our colleges have had to dumb down there curriculums and relax their standards over and over again to accommodate all the barely educated students they are getting from the public schools. The president of MSU says they just have to hold the line- they can't continue relaxing their standards. Are public schools harming our children? When they don't give them an adequate education and instead use them for advocacy they surely are.