Sunday, September 17, 2017

I heard the Walters family sent their kids to public school and they're all happy and doing fine

This is the time of the year when school just started so new interest has peeked its worried head out of the protection of the summer, and asked, Where in the world will I send my kid to school next year?  Or my all time fave, Where, oh where, will I send my kid to preschool?  - which totally makes me laugh because the actual answer is to just send them to that little Mother's Day Out program at the local church or the YMCA and have a few hours to yourself, Mama.  

And while you're having a few hours to yourself, look around at all the people you see and ask yourself what preschool they might have attended in their formative years to get them where they are today.  Yes, that's a joke.  Because they probably have no clue where they went, if they went at all. Because y'all, bigger things happened since then - things like life and love and disappointment and tragedy.  Things like friends, and family and family trips.  Things like church and scouts and weekly visits to the library.  Things like neighborhood walks and visits with grandparents and volunteer work - all of which made a bus load of weight more impact on the person than the choice of school so many years ago. 

I was visiting with a neighbor the other day and the conversation turned to our kids - mostly to my prediction that this year, as his oldest enters 3rd grade, every conversation at soccer games, birthday parties and school programs, will turn into the age old question of Where will we send our angel to middle school? And trust that I speak from experience, because we've heard it all, done it all, and visited them all.  I've talked to parents, teachers, school counselors, and read reviews on school ratings websites.  And the best answer I have come up with in the years of getting all three of my kids well into middle school and high school is this - just go ahead and enroll them in that school in your neighborhood.  Because its wonderful. 

But the fact is that you're never going to know how wonderful it is if you're afraid to take that first step.  And if you're too busy talking about which schools are bad to actually just try it.  The school gossip travels through the ages.  You know the talk ... I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to so and so and there was a fight in the hallway.  I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to the local school and there was a drug overdose in the 8th grade hall.  Which is actually true, by the way.  But what about the news that the Walters sent all three of their kids to their local elementary, middle and high schools and they're all happy and doing well...  That's the news that I wish would get spread louder and further than the bad. 

Until parents are ready to view each school opportunity as equal, there will be forever and always the ones that don't stand a chance.  That school that you and your mom friends have all discussed and decided isn't very good?  Well, it won't be very good until a mom like you who cares to give her child the very best of everything gets involved and makes that school shine brighter each year you can contribute.  Our little neighborhood elementary is in great demand these days, but when we enrolled Kid 1 - our now Junior in high school, people acted like we were sending him off to war.  And it took a whole lot of working on fundraisers, PTA meetings and Halloween carnivals to leave that school a better place after Kid 3 finished his turn there 10 years later.  And we left it in the very capable hands of other neighborhood parents who believe that change won't happen till we make it happen. Yay for parent involvement.  

I understand the call of private school, and had that been a financial option for us, I may be telling a whole different story today. I get it.  And I am not anti -private school and I am not anti-YOU.  So don't even say it.  What I am is PRO-KID. And that means every kid getting an equally wonderful chance at an education. 

I can honestly say that I have to smush down the mad every Friday night and Saturday morning when I hear about all the young parents taking their kids to the high school football games - but not the game of the school that their kids should go to according to address.  There's a favorite around here and it wins the popular vote every time.  It also wins the race card because it's the only high school in our district that has less than the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged enrollments of the rest of the district.  And yes, my kids go to one of the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged ones.  And they love it there.  

I can say without doubt that my boys have seen and heard things that I wish I could shelter them from, but I can't.  And never was able to do even before public school.  Their worlds extend beyond the walls of our home and out into the mall, the movies, their friends' houses and everywhere social media has a touch screen connection to their hearts and minds.  But what I know is that they have seen and heard enough to practice their right and wrong decision making skills - skills that they will have to exercise sooner or later no matter what, and I'd rather they do that now while they're still in my care. 

post script- photos in this post were from yesterday's high school Homecoming parade. And it's not corporate sponsored.  Nor is it fancy or big.  But it's ours.  And the kids are so proud, happy and excited.  And to me, that's one heck of a parade. 

post post script - If you're sitting on the school fence but afraid of which side to climb off?  Visit them all.  Visit by surprise, then visit again.  But mostly talk to the parents who have had kids in those schools and value their words over the words of the young moms still afraid of that first day of kindergarten or middle school or high school.    

Would you like to comment?

  1. Christi Harris-LazaroSeptember 19, 2017 at 6:39 PM

    Go Kristi! I absolutely agree! All children should have an equal chance at a good education and a chance to have a their school supported by parents and their community. Can't wait unti Friday for our Homecoming game!��


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