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.