The kids finally headed back to school after our winter break. This past year I have thought A LOT about public school education. Many of my thoughts are still trying to get worked out. It’s still a process because I’m learning to communicate what I see, feel and experience. In 2018, I am sure it will be something I will continue to talk about. Hopefully with more clarity.
My kids attend an under-resourced, high poverty community school. It is not uncommon for me to get shocked faces when I tell people where my kids go (and by people, I mean White people). Chattanooga’s segregation makes a couple of things clear. Many White families don’t send their kids to their neighborhood public school, and the most vulnerable (POC) in this city are pushed to the isolated margins. One of my children asked why White children don’t go to school with them. When I asked why they thought this was, they said, “because those families don’t want to send them there.” Can’t argue with that. The under resourced schools are serving communities of color. Almost exclusively. And if you don’t know, that means incredible inequality. Dig into your own city and you will probably find the same.
What is so wrong with us that we push the most vulnerable among us to the margins of society and isolate them, essentially guaranteeing most the resources stay held up with the powerful and privileged?
So here are a couple of things I know for sure: teachers make the world go round- well not ALL of them (let’s not front), but so many of them are amazing! And some of them who are in these types of schools, let’s just say, bust their butts educating and loving under RIDICULOUS circumstances. The other thing I know is that we have got to start talking about the systematic racism and inequalities in our schools. This also means YOU might have to face how YOU have contributed to a system that prefers the privileged. We don’t make decisions for our family in a vacuum. What we do every day contributes to the common good, or not so common good. This will more than likely make you uncomfortable. But it should also grieve you that children of color in America are getting the raw deal.
Here is my disclaimer: this conversation has to include nuance. I know black families that homeschool, and I completely support them staying home investing in their black babies in a racist society. I also wouldn’t begin to tell a parent of color that they shouldn’t take an opportunity for their kids education that can get them out of a foul cycle of inequalities. So, like I said, I have thoughts! Lets get out of our preferred bubbles of comfort. If this is new information to you, I encourage you to pick up a book on the legacy of systematic racism in our education system and the huge issues our kids of color are facing today. Need a book to read? I have recommendations.
Sarah lives in Chattanooga with her husband and three children. She is an admin for the Be the Bridge Facebook group and she and her husband work in ministry with a local church plant.