I am an anthropologist by training but have found myself working over the past decade as a somewhat begrudging education advocate.
It all started when my kids were very little and I would take breaks from writing my dissertation (toddler napping in bed, computer on top of washing machine, infant strapped to chest because she needed constant swaying motion) to take walks with a mom friend. Our conversations invariably turned toward school. Because we had moved into an “up and coming” neighborhood in LA (much more to be said about that!) and the schools were marked by poverty, friend and I would parse out our potential options.
At some point, it seemed like a good idea for us to just simply send our kids to our neighborhood school. And so… we did.
And ten years later, I find myself to be one of those annoying people who talk about education constantly. My husband glazes over when I start with “so, guess what the District did today….”. Friends have given me wine in exchange for NOT talking about school. I pretend to start repainting the bedroom to distract myself.
While I have learned (a bit) how to identify the please-stop-talking-about-this look, I feel oddly centered in this battle for educational equity. This has never just been about my kids – had they been my only concern, I doubt I would have stuck it out at our local, poor school. I believe that all kids should go to a good school. Public school should provide the same opportunities regardless of income, ethnicity, language background. Though this sounds obvious and much like an empty campaign speech (“I’m for the kids!” “I’m against crime!”), we have a long, long way to go to realize it.
So this blog is a place to talk about what we have learned by sending our kids to a school in a largely impoverished (though now changing) community. There is much to be said.