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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trying to explain my struggle...

I am struggling HARD with our decision about what school we will send our oldest to next year. You see, we got into a local charter school that is next-to-impossible to get into (I'm talking over 1000-applicants-for-30-spots hard).  It is a fabulous school. I'm in love with the art teacher. Every family who goes there loves it.  They rave about it.  The test scores are through the roof.  It is an amazing opportunity for my kids to get a stellar academic education for their first 9 years in school. I visited the school and was taken aback by how much I liked it.

Sounds like an easy choice, right?

Here's the problem: the student body of this particular school is, by the vast majority, white.  There are only two teachers in the entire K-8 who aren't white (they are both African-American females).  That is NOT the picture I always envisioned when I thought about the schools where I would send my children.

When we first moved here, we recognized quickly that this is a pretty segregated city.  So we purposefully chose a home in a more diverse area of town.  And that was before we ever knew we'd have a black child.  I firmly believe diversity is really important for all kids. Back then, assuming all I'd have was white children ('cause, you know, I did take genetics in high school), I wanted them to have exposure to kids who look different from them. I felt like they would be missing out by not having the opportunity to have friends from different cultures.

And now I am faced with a decision. Do I deprive my oldest two children of the opportunity to have friends who are different from them? Do I send my youngest to a school where he will be firmly in the minority?  What is more important? Amazing academic education or providing diversity for my children at school?

Part of the hard part of this struggle for me is that not many of my friends truly understand.  We joke that I'm "crazy" for even considering not going to this charter school.  They all applied too, and they would send their kids in a heartbeat.  I love my friends, and they are trying to understand, but for most of them, the idea of sending their kids to an (almost) all-white school is no big deal.  The thing for me is I want diversity for ALL THREE of my kids, not just my child of color.  I can't seem to explain very well to those around me that I think it is very good for my kids to be around people who are different from us. Not just racially. I want them to have contact with people of different races, value systems, religions, sexual orientation, you-name-it.  Because that is what the world looks like. And Jesus loves the people of the world.  And the last time I checked, He told us to love them too.

We had dinner the other night with some friends of ours who are in the process of adopting two children from Ghana. When I told them our predicament, they both cringed and said, "ooooohhhh"   They get it. It was like a giant breath of fresh-air for me to talk to someone who can relate, who doesn't think I'm crazy.  I'm left wondering... why do I struggle so much against the idea of sending my white children to a school where everyone looks like them when it's a non-issue for most of those around me?  Why is surrounding ourselves with people, cultures, and views that are different from our own not seen as important a part of education as pure academics?

So we haven't made a decision yet.  I am struggling and praying and wrestling with it.  And I'll struggle, pray, and wrestle with it until we do.  We are still waiting to hear if we got into another magnet school so I can't even begin to decide until I actually know what all our options are.

But it is weighing so heavily on my heart right now. I've written four different blog posts about it - this is the first one I have had the guts to publish.

 I'm kind of a scaredy-cat that way.

6 comments:

  1. I get it! we should talk-though I don't have an answer for you-you'll make the best choice!

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  2. I know you are not looking for advice through this blog, but I really like this post and I would love share my comments on it…

    Why does sending your children to this school mean they are doomed to a life deprived of “diversity”? You seem highly cognizant about making sure you children have a broad range of experiences growing up, so I wouldn’t worry about the lack of “diversity” : )

    I was once an odd kid (think lots of D&D and “The Cure”) who grew up in a mono-chromatic neighborhood, but now I live/work in a very “multicultural” environment. I see a lot of women in the US struggling with the same questions about “diversity” that you struggle with. In my opinion, I would not skimp on education in order to provide more “diversity”. Yes, “diversity” is an education in its own right, but knowledge and critical thinking skills are the tools used to fight racism, not forced face-time : ).

    To be a supper-dooper-pooper advice giver, try asking one of your diverse friends to read this post and see what they think (preferably someone of low SES who might not have access to this type of school).

    Best of luck, I would love to hear what you decide to do!

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  3. School decisions are BIG! I think we all have to decide what is most important to us b/c no school has it all. If diversity is most important, then choose a school that has that. There is no perfect school, but there may be one school that is perfect for your family at this point in your lives. Am I totally babbling? I will pray for you guys as you are seeking answers.

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  4. I'm praying about it for you too...if only we had a way to see our futures. I just know that you are one of the most loving special people in my life....
    Love & big hugs to all.
    -auntie-

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  5. Diversity is in the world all of our days, the foundation of their education is only one time----

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  6. Oh girl, I totally get it and have no answers. You are definitely not crazy :)

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