Monday, April 21, 2008

Going Public

If you send your kids to public school, or are considering sending your kids to public school, you must, must, must read this book.
Going Public - Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, by David and Kelli Pritchard

My friend Heather told me about the Pritchards after hearing them speak at the All Staff Young Life conference in Florida this past January. They had just written this book and it was due out in March. I waited on pins and needles for the Amazon cardboard box to arrive at my door. And even with my (hopeful) high expectations, this book is a gem and so encouraging for parents choosing public school.

A few interesting things about the Pritchards:
- they have eight children, all of whom attend/attended public schools
- while they live in a premiere school district in Tacoma, the Pritchards have deliberately sought and gotten a waiver to attend a school with lower test scores and a higher percentage of "economically disadvantaged" families
- their oldest daughter Alyse, 24, graduated with honors from USC; second daughter Krista, 22, attends Hawaii; and son Tavita, 20, currently plays quarterback for Stanford University
- David and Kelli are careful not to criticize private schools or home schools in Going Public, but instead offer a much-needed tool for encouraging public school parents
- David is the Young Life area director in the south suburbs of Tacoma, WA and manages Young Life's largest summer camp
- Going Public is worth reading even if yours is not a public school family - the solid, practical, Biblical parenting advice transcends all school choices.

Some of my favorite quotes from the first chapter, "You can Do It!" include:
Our approach to difficult people and situations is, We can learn something here. (pg 19)

Starting in the very first classroom, our home, we teach our children to be the influencers rather than the influenced. (pg 20)

We consider ourselves to be our children's number one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege - even though they spend 30 hours a week in someone else's classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God's greater perspective. (pg 21)

We believe... that believing parents can raise kids with strong spiritual roots in the midst of a secular culture. (pg 22)

Other chapters:
Ch 2 - Is Public Education an Evil Plot?
Ch 3 - What the Bible says about Education
Ch 4 - The Most Important Thing to Teach Your Public-School Child
Ch 5 - The Second Most Important Thing
Ch 6 - The Third Most Important Thing
Ch 7 - The Magic of Being Nice
Ch 8 - Submitting to Authority
Ch 9 - Teachable Moments
Ch 10 - Up Close and Personal
Ch 11 - Everybody Should "Homeschool"
Ch 12 - Your Very Best Chance
Ch 13 - For Men Only
Ch 14 - The Nearest Mission Field
Ch 15 - The Moon is Round
Afterword - From our Children

A couple of endorsements sum up what I love about Going Public:
While many Christian families fear the negative influence of public schools, the Pritchards remind us that we don't have to "take God into the public schools," because He's already there! Finally, a positive, practical book that encourages people to work together as a family and impact our schools and communities for Jesus.
Kjel and Leslie Kiilsgaard
Public high school teacher and coach
High school counselor

If you want to find out what marriage and parenting is all about, just watch David and Kelli as they interact with each other and with their children. One of the things that strike me the most is the love and respect their children have for them. If the proof is in the pudding, you only have to watch the Pritchard family to see model of a family that loves each other and the God who created them.
Bill Paige
VP and Special Assistant to the President of Young Life

I wrote on the topic of school choices last month, and what I found was that the comments people left were more interesting than my actual post, Bloom Where You're Planted. This whole school choice can certainly conjure up some friction. As I mentioned before, I see significant beauty in many private schools and home school families. We are taking this one year at a time. But I am so grateful for David and Kelli's blood, sweat and tears in crafting this outstanding, valuable resource. This is a book that I anticipate rereading and referencing many times.
You can read more about Going Public, as well as the Pritchards' family and ministry, at David and Kelli's website and blog. Enjoy!