School choice is a thorny issue in this country. If you are poor or a member of an ethnic or racial minority, your choices are usually limited, and they are not always good. Even in schools that are well-funded with gleaming computer equipment and multiple tutors for struggling students, there can be an atmosphere of degradation and social dysfunction that is overwhelming. This article just about broke my heart when I read it last night. From a teacher and writer, Gerry Garibaldi this testimony in his article, “Nobody Gets Married Any More, Mister”:
“At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don’t want for books—or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non–Title I schools can’t afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library.
Here’s my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children—all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch. “
Personal moral responsibility, and the “M” word, the word “moral” is nearly taboo in these postmodern times, not only do politicians often not want to speak of moral responsibility, no else does either. If I was a parent, I can easily see wanting to get out of a situation like the one described, where my kids might feel pressured to have sex before they were ready, or to even — get pregnant. Certainly homeschooling might present a good option.
But, if you skip the public option, and homeschool, you actually risk having your kids taken away! Well, I guess it could happen, see this instance where an African American family had their kids yanked because they homeschooled them. Reminiscent of a recent case in Sweden where homeschooling also got the kids yanked away. In the past, my lefty past, I was suspicious of homeschooling but recent reports of higher test results for homeschooled kids and a good long hard look at what is available for kids otherwise out there, changed my mind. Here, the story:
“It’s every parent’s nightmare.
Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents, had their five children taken away in April 2010 by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services – and despite the collapse of the evidence against the Jacksons, DYFS hasn’t returned the children to their parents.
During the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says.”
Father: ‘My children are being held hostage’
There are other options, like finding a better environment – well, one would hope. But, getting your children into a better school district is not an easy thing. Kelley Williams-Bolar, an African American woman determined to get her kids into a safer school with an environment more conducive to learning and with a high academic ranking – was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district.
“It’s overwhelming. I’m exhausted,” she said. “I did this for them, so there it is. I did this for them.
Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.
But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries.
The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.
Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.
“When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else,” Williams-Bolar said.”
Sounds like real school choice has got to on the table one way or another. And parents shouldn’t be penalized for making a choice.