We probably don’t know one another, so in the absence of a proper introduction, perhaps we can follow the age-old advice of the parent/teacher conference: I won’t believe half of what I’ve heard about you if you won’t believe half of what you’ve heard about me.

We both want our kids to learn — facts of math and science, truths from history, beauty in literature and language, potential of computers and technology, joy in music, drama, and art, and competition in athletics. And, if we’re honest, we want the flavor of our children’s education to mirror our particular vision of “the good life” because, let’s face it: We make choices not only out of what we know but out of what we love, just as our kids will.

Because no school is perfect, I’m sure there are things you like and dislike about your school; this is true of most parents whose children attend Petra Academy, the school I lead. I’m not asking you to enroll your kids at Petra, but I am asking you to consider why those who do should have the same opportunity and support to send their kids to Petra that you have to send your kids to your school.

Despite the efforts to prolong the myth, education is not neutral; as a classical Christian school, Petra’s certainly isn’t, and as a government school, neither is yours. With curriculum, faculty, administration, and families all in the mix, there can simply be no question that the education provided by a school — any school — is going to be biased; the question for every parent is, “What is that bias and is that what I want for my kids?” If it is, great, but if not, a parent should be free and supported to explore other options.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2016, 50.4 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, with an additional 5.2 million students attending private elementary and secondary schools. The Home School Legal Defense Association reports that more than 2.3 million children are educated in the home. That’s a total of just over 57 million PreK-12th grade students in our country, with families of 7.5 million of those having to pay twice — once as part of the subsidy for the education of the 50.4 million, and again for the education of their own kids.

Parents who “opt out” of the government school system still have to support the school they’re leaving with their taxes in addition to paying for whatever “other” education they want. The argument, of course, goes that taxpayer money cannot be used to fund religious schools, but any belief system — even and especially the one that ostensibly espouses non-belief — is a faith system itself with traditions, tenets and trust in something.

In a society like ours that aspires to pluralism, this is fine; however, educational funding should not be offered to one family while withheld from another under the false dichotomy of “religious” or “non-religious” schooling. If the state and federal governments insist on collecting taxes for the purpose of education, then fund all the parents instead of only some of the schools.

No one school can meet all the needs of each and every student; Petra can’t, and neither can your school, as evidenced by the fact that we have families from your school come to ours (and vice versa). This is not anyone’s fault, but it is everyone’s problem, the solving of which requires more — not fewer — options for families.

Craig Dunham is headmaster of Petra Academy in Bozeman.