Friday, November 2, 2007

Education is Key

A few weeks back on the adoption boards a conversation took place where a mother was having a difficult time making a decision as to whether she should place her Ethiopian child in a public charter or traditional public school. Neither school was ranked extremely high academically but the charter school was located closer to her job, primarily black and had a slight gang/violence problem. The traditional public school was located closer to her home but was almost all white. She was torn. She felt she had an opportunity to provide her child(ren) with a black experience and wanted to do so since neither school seemed to be any better but she was concerned about the violence...AND RIGHTLY SO.

My friends and I have spent time debating where the best place to send our children to school is. I live in DC and we definitely have a number of educational challenges, as well as choices: charter, public and private schools. But you better believe I want nothing to do with anything that is segregated. As much as I love who I am, I know who I am (and I will make sure that so does Baby I) so I don't need an all Black grade school for my child to know that. I want my child to know and appreciate the entire world of diversity - other cultures, foods and languages - it is who she is, who I am and who my friends are. However, I understand this is an issue for some families.

We are in a time of crisis in public education but, there are great things going on in every city and don't let anyone tell you there is not. Also, don't let anyone tell you bad things about good options such as charter schools. Charter schools are good options for our children but not every charter school works but guess what? Neither do all public schools and many haven't worked for say 50 years now. At least if a charter school is not performing they shut it down, I can't say that for traditional public schools.

Don't let the race card stand in the way of your child's education. Fight for what you believe your child deserves. This is your child's future. Don't just put your black child around some black kids during the day because you feel guilty for being white or living in an all white community if the school you are going to send your child to is substandard and the environment is not safe--you will be doing your child a disservice (and I know you don't want to do that). No one can learn in an unsafe environment. It's sad to say but, it is very difficult to get gang activity and violence out of schools and to get high quality teachers that will tolerate unsafe environments. So, just remember when thinking about where to send your child to school, the best education isn't just about academics but, it also includes factors like violence and ethnic composition of a school (scary we have to think about these things isn't it, but we do). Yes, so much to think about.


atHisrighthand said...

Your post always have so much wisdom and thought. I love reading them. Thank you for allowing me into your thoughts.. I am still so new to this blogging thing, but am having fun. I see that we are about on the same track with time frames. Our final homestudy will be this weekend! Hope all is going well with you! :)BTW- Do you know if it helps to send the I600A in advance? We are being told just to wait until we have our final homestudy in hand to send with the form? Any thoughts?

Tami said...

Thanks! I think I spend too much time thinking about my posts but I enjoy the creative process and being able to say whatever is on my mind! LOL

As far as the 1600A I was told to send mine in right away because it takes time to process. Once your homestudy is completed they will simply add that form to your completed 1600A. It will say something like this in the letter you will receive from CIS. So, if I were you I would send it in. You want as much of your paperwork completed to move you to the next step is my thought. Good Luck!

chou-chou said...

Once again, a stellar and thought-provoking post, Tami!

I have been wrestling a bit with this issue - although deciding on a school is years away for Sprout.

I live in a "good" school district with a decent Hispanic population, a smallish Asian population and a TINY - almost non-existent Black population.

I've had some people tell me it's irresponsible or even crual to send my kid to a school with very few other black kids, and I kind of agree. I mean, how does that feel?

But, to get to a decent school with a good racial blend, I would have to move to another community, which would mean a long commute to work and more hours away from my kid.

No easy answer here.

Again - great food for thought, and I might just post about this myself. :-)

Hi! I'm Laura. Welcome to my blog. said...

how was that a difficult decision? gang violence?! come on! i understand she wanted to expose her child to other black children but why would she even consider that as the way to do it? clearly she can find ways to expose her child outside of the school setting in a safe and appropriate venue! my parents snatched me out of the racially diverse public school when they found out there was a problem with violence (which was far less dangerous in the 70s) and put me in an almost all-white private school without blinking an eye. she should have had the instinct to know that the safety of her child outweighs everything. period.

Tami said... her defense, she never put her child in the school, it was a question. I believe she knows that but I'm sure she wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Or here what others had to say. This is new for her and instintively she knew the answer but she felt like she needed to ask because she didn't want to be acused of being a racist. We often hear the schools are getting better, there is change, we have security, give it a chance, I'm sure she heard the same she put it out there. My point and your point...don't even go there, not worth it...your child is not worth it and don't get caught up in the race drama. My mother also pulled me out of several situations without skipping a beat but they could do that without being called racist, she is trying to make sure she isn't accused of doing racist things eventhough no matter what she does someone will still probably still find a reason to say it is racial.

Jocelyn said...

I think about this a lot too. In fact my moving plans changed once my decision to adopt was made. I know school days aren't around the corner, but 5 years goes fast and I am a planner!! I have already made a lot of choices about this very subject but I like to hear other's opinions too, makes me think. There you go again Tami, making me think...would you stop:-)

Hi! I'm Laura. Welcome to my blog. said...

Well, to me it would be absurd to accuse her of being racist for not wanting to subject her children to gang violence.