For Our Family Black History and School Choice are Inseparable

Posted on Posted in Blog, Color Me Educated

For Our Family Black History and School Choice are Inseparable

 
In the midst of a crazy week of school (for me and the children), a household schedule that works around homework, two full time working adults, music lessons and dance classes we were fortunate enough to sit down for a home cooked meal together.  The main topic of discussion lately between my husband and I at the dinner table has been where will the two youngest children go to school next year. Our children listen, their heads and eyes in similar motion as if watching a tennis match. I try to disguise my feelings, but it’s hard to hide my anxiety. Perhaps, I could concede to slight obsessiveness. But, I won’t. Particularly given that for children of color in 2012:
This week is National School Choice week  and I’ve read many articles that have detailed the need for School Choice for parents. I was disheartened to only come across one article in the Washington Post that mentioned School Choice, while beneficial to some, has not proven to be beneficial or perfect for all.  Truth be told, the devil is in the details for succeeding in School Choice. So, between online and hard copy School Choice applications, classroom visits at 9:00 am and pre-scheduled tours and informational meetings, my husband and I concluded that no school, public or private, is perfect.  Still, trying to weigh their own set of benefits and drawbacks ain’t easy.
If our two youngest are selected for the schools we’ve chosen they would leave the school they’ve attended for the last three years. The anxiety of possibly changing to these schools makes my throat want to close. On one hand, the schools we chose have a great reputation for increasing learning, access to technology and potential tracking into middle and high school magnets. But, is that enough?
The school that they currently attend is 99% African American in staff, faculty and students. In the new school this would be almost reversed. My oldest left there in first grade reading in the 97th percentile. My kindergartner reads on a first grade level and can add and subtract using equations. It’s a small, private school where Smartboards do not exist. There is not a computer in every classroom and attending costs us a nice chunk of change.  So, why does taking them out seem like receiving a waxing that took off a little bit of skin? The answer: Black History month.
When my oldest child attended this school they posted signs and had HBCU t-shirt day.  For the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King they had a special program and displayed bulletin boards claiming his success.
The MLK board is still up in addition to these:

black history month school choice

 

black history month school choice

 

My parents instilled racial pride in us growing up. I’ve always felt that it is a crucial component for children of color growing up in America.  Not to disparage any one group, but to demonstrate that people of color have made positive contributions. This notion is a part of our belief that in a sense, seeing is believing.  Furthermore, a recent study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University found that African American adolescents do better in school if their parents instill in them a strong sense of racial pride.  When I went to visit the potential schools, I saw technology, invigorated teachers and a fabulous facility. But, no Black History bulletin boards like these.
I guess if their names are chosen from the School Choice lottery box and they attend a school where they will not see themselves so positively mentioned we will have to make sure we step up our Black History game at home. But, it sure is nice to have Choices of schools that have them happen in both places.

What do you think? Should a school be more culturally inclusive or does it not matter?

 

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