The pandemic has taught me how much I took for granted before the pandemic.
I took it for granted that, within reason, I could go wherever I wanted to go and usually on my own schedule. I took it for granted that I could see friends and family in person with minimal inconvenience. I also took it for granted that my kids would always be able to go to school between the months of August and June.
But even without a pandemic, I could take those things for granted because, compared to most people in the world, I am wealthy. I have significant financial means, access to and knowledge of many resources, and a broad network of friends and family who I can rely upon for all kinds of support.
Not everyone gets choices
I chose to live in my neighborhood and, because the public school closest to me underperforms most schools in my state, I chose to send my children to other schools. Not everyone has those choices, however.
In our latest episode of the Civil Squared podcast, I spoke with Denisha Merriweather, the founder of Black Minds Matter. Denisha grew up in poverty in Jacksonville, Florida. Her mother was sixteen years old when Denisha was born, and no one in Denisha’s family had ever graduated from high school. For much of her childhood, Denisha was pretty sure she wouldn’t, either.
Denisha went to her local public school. Neither she nor her parents were aware there were other options. She failed the third grade twice because she couldn’t read. She acted out because she felt “stupid” and was frustrated, so she was well known to her teachers as a child with behavioral problems. She got Ds and Fs and believed that she would “follow in the footsteps” of her family.
What does “choice” mean?
There are those who disagree with Denisha and argue that the idea of “school choice” is, fundamentally, racist. This week, in addition to my conversation with Denisha on the podcast, we’ve included her essay on Black Minds Matter, a piece by Raymond Pierce of the Southern Education Foundation who surveys the history of school choice to illustrate why he believes it is racist, and several pieces on educational alternatives that communities and individuals are pursuing as a result of the pandemic.
Whether children receive a quality education shouldn’t be a right vs. left issue, no matter how tempting it is to make it into one. Real change won’t happen unless, regardless of our political opinions, we can talk to and work with one another. Only then can we ensure all our children have opportunities to succeed.
5 LINKS WORTH YOUR TIME
- Our Black minds matter.
- Is school choice racist?
- Education is not just another policy bucket.
- Pharrell Williams’ new private school YELLOWHAB will serve low-income students at no cost.
- School choice becomes mainstream in 2022.
Photo by Panitan on Adobe Stock.