Should schools mix rich and poor kids for the greater good? (part 5)
All week True/Slant writer Michael Salmonowicz have been debating the issue of mixed-income schools – school districts where students are assigned so that no one school has a huge number of students in poverty. Today’s post is the end of a great conversation. You can catch up on Monday’s, Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s posts, or just jump in today and start reading:
My eyes almost popped out of my head when I read about those Mississippi schools. How can this be serious? Still segregating students, and it’s 2010? It just about made me ill.
I feel like I run into the same problem in nearly every issue, especially when it has to do with kids. Parents want the best for their children. Not other people’s children—their own children. Sure, there are a few celebrities who say how becoming a mother made them want to help all children everywhere, but that’s only because their children already have miniature Prada handbags and Gucci burp cloths, so they have nothing to worry about. By and large, most parents will do what is best for their own kid, even if it is at the expense of other kids or society.
And I can’t really fault them for it. As I consider have my own child, it’s quite different to think about that little baby growing up to go to a school that might have some kids in it with serious issues. Those kids might sit next to my daughter or son. They might encourage them to act up, or worse yet, get involved in illegal activities. While I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, the thought of my kid, who’s not even yet a twinkle in his father’s eye, turning out to be rotten is truly frightening.
The parents in Wake County wanted to do what we all want to do: insulate their kids from any possible negativity. But it pains me to think that so many parents don’t have that choice. They can’t choose to move to a nicer district or be home every afternoon when their kids get off the bus.
I also want to believe, as you have stated, that there can be schools so well run and organized that it doesn’t matter who steps through the door. I do believe every child can learn, but my experience in the classroom has taught me that although every child can learn, many have significant barriers to doing so. The kinds of schools we’re talking about—where it doesn’t matter what issues the kids have—take a lot of money and sheer will, which is something their communities lack.
Maybe we should start the next great parenting movement. After all, there’s helicopter parents, homeschoolers, unschoolers, soccer moms, and the like. Why don’t we start a parenting movement where it becomes really cool to think about other people’s kids and the impact your behavior has on them? We can move into the Chicago Housing Authority’s mixed income neighborhoods and help create mixed income schools, day care cooperatives and a neighborhood watch. It’s idealistic, but it’s honestly the way I want to raise my future children. Plus, it will keep me from embarrassing myself by buying a ridiculously expensive stroller.
It’s been great fun debating the issues with you! I learned a ton. Let’s do it again sometime.