Can’t Afford Private School?
by Tammy Drennan
Let me tell you a true story. I'm the oldest of eleven children. My parents became convinced, when I was around 13, that they should send us to Christian schools. It was a little hit and miss until they took the plunge to full commitment. First, they sent me -- in seventh grade -- but all the other kids went to public school. I went back to PS for eighth and ninth grades, then back to Christian school for tenth. It was like that for the other older kids, too. Then my parents got serious — no more public school.
My youngest five siblings went exclusively to Christian schools and four of the oldest kids went exclusively for their high school years. It wasn't easy. My father had been struck by an aggressive rheumatoid arthritis that quickly crippled him, left him in constant chronic pain, and sometimes prevented him from working (he was a painting contractor). There was no medical insurance, resulting in plenty of extra bills — besides the day-to-day expenses of feeding, clothing and housing eleven kids. There were times we literally did not know where our next meal was coming from. We lost a home to medical bills and occasionally lived in some pretty unconventional situations.
But the commitment was made. Much of the time, my parents were behind on their school bills. They often paid off one year's bill just as the next year was about to begin. My father bargained with schools, sometimes trading work for tuition. My mother mended clothes, baked her own bread when it was cheaper to do so, sacrificed wherever possible. One year, when no way could be found, my parents kept the kids out of school. It was a long, hard struggle — but one they would not compromise on.
May I suggest that few people today face the challenges my parents did. Even with severe health problems, no insurance, eleven kids to provide for, and one setback after another, they found a way. Their children's schooling was more important to them than an endless list of other things they could have done with their money. We didn't eat out, rarely went on vacation, drove old cars, and made our fun instead of buying it. We didn't go to the movies or buy name brand clothes. We wore hand-me-downs, homemade clothes, mended clothes — always clean and neat but never expensive.
We never felt deprived— how could we when our parents were so dedicated to our education and our future, when we saw them do without so we would have something far more important than the latest fad in possessions?
Do you know what kind of example this set for us? What it said about how much our parents valued and respected us as human beings? They made sacrifices and required some sacrifice from us, too. They let us know that they believed we were mature enough and principled enough to recognize the value of sacrificing material goods for a better cause. We matured in the critical areas of commitment and principle because we saw those character traits exhibited every day.
A commitment to liberty in education impacts much more than your child's current academic achievement and spiritual, emotional, and moral maturity. It sends an eternal message to your child that you put your child above all possessions and comfort, that you will stand for what is right regardless of the sacrifice, that principled action is a choice, and that when the going gets tough, you dig in your heels and find a way to do what is right. It shows your child, above all, that principles are not just for the easy times. What better way to pass on to your child the gifts of perseverance and dedication?
Take the leap and don't look back.