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I’ve gotta say– writing a check for private school got a lot easier when a student brought a loaded 9mm pistol to Rosa Taylor Elementary last month. Elementary school. Here. In Macon.

We didn’t come to the private school decision lightly– Meg and I are way more hippie than we’d care to admit. Our kids went to Montessori and sang Beatles songs before we studied the lottery and charter schools. Ultimately, we wanted a more traditional setting. Rosa Taylor’s in our district. Had we chosen public school, our girls would’ve been there for eight hours that day when no one noticed a child needed help. Instead, my daughters were down the road at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. One true sigh of deep relief… The guilt I’d had for sending them there was gone.

Originally, I caught a little flack for choosing private school. I have plenty of friends who are fine, balanced, educated, and well-rounded products of the Bibb County Public School system. I’ve heard stories about bands of parents that long ago committed to public school, though i’m not sure they had any affect. I don’t want to question the Bibb County teachers and administrators who’ve invested their lives in this system. They overcome serious liabilities every day, and maybe that particular day was even worse for the Rosa Taylor staff. So, am I less courageous than them? Than my friends who chose public school? I certainly feel that way at times… But then I pick my kids up from St. Joe’s– and I see the difference. Yes, tuition is a social filter, and the whole “God-thing” freaks me out a little, but I want to give my kids the best opportunity for education in the safest environment possible. I don’t have time for any other kind of courage.

The child with a gun at Rosa Taylor Elementary isn’t the beginning– it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. A student was stabbed, and a teacher took a padlock to the head in two seperate instances at a Bibb County middle school. My heart broke when a Central High junior was robbed and killed on his way to class– at the same school where a teacher was allegedly caught with child pornography on his computer. That all happened in the space of a year, and my heart breaks even more when I speak to other parents who aren’t even aware of these problems– or I guess I should say their problems. I’d like to send my kids to school and not pay through the nose for the privilege. A safe place where children can get a decent education and even enjoy the experience– that’s all any parent could ask for, right? I’m not a fool– there are no guarantees with private school. I’m sure there are things we’ll have to deal with there too, but until some major changes occur in the Bibb County system– my girls are staying right where they are. Yeah, I want to be a part of the solution–but I won’t use my kids to prove how liberal-minded I am.

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