There’s so much to write about right now. I had a post planned for tonight, but it’s an important one and I want to take the time to say what I want to say correctly. So I’m going to push it out a couple of days.
So what about tonight? Well, Alissa and I have been wondering where the time is going. We are taking preliminary steps toward getting Harry enrolled in Kindergarten, and yesterday, we took a tour of a preschool for Annie. Apparently Kids Klub is not going to have a 3/4 class next year, so we need to find someplace else. It appears that we have, so that’s taken care of.
No, it’s Kindergarten and elementary education that’s been on my mind. I’ve always been a staunch proponent of public education, as has Alissa. Lately, though, I’ve been concerned, almost despairing about the defunding of our educational system. Our newscasts are filled with school boards grappling with which schools to close. Gifted and enrichment programs are being cut. Washington State voted down and an income tax to fund education, and makes other short-sighted policy decisions to defund government. I’ve been becoming concerned about the quality of the education that my kids are going to receive, not because of the teachers–I revere teachers, but because of the fact that we as a society don’t value education the way we need to. I pictured my kids, with their natural inquisitiveness and love of learning, walking into an overcrowded, underfunded school, and I felt despair. I got this picture of an environment where kids were there because they had to be and where excellence, while encouraged by overworked teachers was cause for social ostracism.
I found myself doing something I never thought I would do. I started looking at private schools on the internet. I didn’t look for very long. Something just felt wrong about it, but I couldn’t place it.
Then I weighed into a facebook discussion about this miscarriage of justice. Really, I didn’t say anything, just that I thought it was a terribly unjust thing to have happened. Others carried the discussion. The friend who posted the story happens to be African-American, as were many of her other friends who were engaged in the discussion. I got the distinct impression that many of them had felt the sting of racism, direct and institutional in a way that I never have and never will. Then I read this comment:
“This is just the start. I have been saying for years that privatize education is how White and Affluent [America] is going to separate from Black/Latino Poor America. People have been doing this for years. If this … is so “illegal” then why have a busing system in place? This is the first of many and I bet it won’t be the worst …”
That did it. That crystalized what was wrong with what I was contemplating. I was considering getting my kids off a perceived sinking ship while the getting was good, with no regard for other kids, other families who did not have means of escape. I had this utopian vision of some kind of diverse educational paradise, but it wouldn’t have been diverse. It would not have reflected the full swath of circumstances in my community.
I was considering a course of action that violated everything that I hope I stand for. It was a course of protecting my own without regard to others, without regard to the need for living incarnationally, in my community and doing my part, however small, to promote things like social justice and racial reconcilliation. It was a bit scary to realize what I was doing. It was shocking and most of all convicting.
The fact is that we all need to value education. We, as a nation, need to prioritize education funding, especially in the areas that need it most desperately. And most of all, those of us who might contemplate running to other options because we don’t think the public school is valued enough need to value the public school enough to stay, to stand and fight for the rights of our own kids and other kids to high quality education.