I never thought I’d be here.

I was a public school baby K-12. I taught in public schools. I believe in public schools and the learning opportunity they provide their students.

Plus as I’ve said time and again, mama didn’t raise a quitter. Yet here I am, drinking my coffee, absorbing the fact that we’re dropping off our kids at private school tomorrow. Getting ready for this day has been a struggle. It felt like I put my shoes on the wrong feet and was walking around wondering what felt weird only to realize I’m standing in the weird. Boy, am I standing in the weird. But I’m excited about what lies ahead for all of us this year.

Here are eight reasons we needed to leave our public school.

1.  My kids deserve a safe learning environment. No, I’m not talking about guns (although, Lord help me, the shootings). Y’all, I can get my kids fed, clothed, and at school on time but it means jack squat when they don’t have freedom from fear inside that building. You can’t focus on learning when you spend most of your energy staying off the radar.

2.  They deserve a community that has their backs. Yes, people make mistakes, but kids pick up on patterns. So when mine said someone called her a ni**er the day before school ended but she didn’t bother telling the teacher “because they wouldn’t have done anything anyway”…well, that summed up how alone our kids felt at school.

3.  Hate speech is hate speech is hate speech. And it is never acceptable under any circumstances, ever. If you’d like a whirl down KKK lane, read this post from last year. Now wrap your brain around the fact the kids involved didn’t receive a single day’s out of school suspension. The new school’s bullying contract states any student guilty of bullying conduct is subject to suspension or expulsion. They Do Not Play.

4.  Yes, we live in a white part of the county, but not this white. It’s illogical that T-man was one of only two boys of color in the seventh grade at his school. A few questions here, a little digging there – it seems boys (particularly African Americans) were transferring public schools after sixth grade. Now I don’t wanna tell you how to run things, but if you notice a pattern of black students leaving then maybe you want to look into the social structure of your learning environment.

5.  They’re too young to hate their lives. Not that I want them to hate their lives later. Ideally they’ll discover something they love and going to work will be a joy, not a burden, so – oh, you know what I mean. They’re too young to dread going to bed because that means waking up and that means going back to that school. Nope.

6.  Our kids were changing, and not in the “gee, they’re getting so grown” way. Teachers lauded our pre-middle school kids as responsible and trustworthy leaders in the classroom. Last year was a different ballgame. When neither was recognized for character or citizenship in the spring we realized how much the learning environment was affecting them. They weren’t just not thriving, they were regressing.

7.  Institutional Failure. When marching into the office gets your kid bullied more for telling and doesn’t change the adult’s behavior you’re just putting a bigger bullseye on their back.

8.  At some point you have to try something different. Frankly, I wonder why I didn’t hit this point after T-man’s sixth grade year. Better now than high school, though.