It’s the first week of March — and once again, I am sitting on a throne of pins and needles that I am forced upon year after year. I don’t like it here. And frankly, I’m tired of it.
The seconds continue to tick past, marching forward toward my moment with destiny — which will happen on Friday afternoon at 3pm sharp.
That’s when the applications I filled out several weeks ago will be pulled out of their files. My children will be assigned random numbers and then one by one given seats at Springfield Prep.
I know, it sounds dramatic. But when you’re the parent of little boys — it’s everything.
You see, not even the Massachusetts evil charter school queen has the power to waive my magic wand and snag a seat at the local charter school. And even though I haven’t been able to get my children into the school of my choice — the kind of public school that I, as their parent and a taxpayer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, want them to attend, I’ve continued to fight, and fight, and fight for parents to attend the school of THEIR choice.
Why do I want my children in this charter school so badly? This is why:
But also this:
Oh, college is your North Star? That’s awesome. College is my North Star, too.
There is no belief gap here.
The district school Miles was assigned last year didn’t have a North Star. Probably because they’ve had five principals in the last five years.
When you get down to it, the choice for me — and other parents — is clear. But then, it’s yanked away from us, year after year, because of stupid political turf wars. And you expect us to stay silent?
This information — these choices — are intentionally kept away from from parents because knowing there is an alternative to failure means the culture of mediocrity is in jeopardy. That excuses that “poverty makes education impossible” fall flat in the face of innovative educational approaches that are simply too much work and require more than just checking the box.
We’re expected to sacrifice my children for the “greater good” which always seems to leave them with the short end of the stick.
We’re expected to accept excuses as to why it’s just not possible for kids like mine — kids you think are only capable of growth before becoming more fodder for the school to prison pipeline anyway.
But we refuse. We dream of excellence and a brighter future. This about more than just numbers on a spreadsheet, in a budget document or some slogan to be slapped on a sticker or a poster. This about kids like David and Miles.
This is David. David is a 5-year-old little boy who is very excited about kindergarten and begins most sentences with the word “apparently.” He walks around the house with a pencil and a pad of paper writing down every single word he can find for his “word collection.”
And you want me to send him a school that can’t teach him how to read?
This is Miles. Miles is a 6-year-old little boy who is literally counting the minutes until he begins first grade. He is an expert on the human body, in particular the digestive system.
And you want me to send him to a school that has zero percent proficiency in the fifth grade science assessments because the kids in his school don’t even have access to science?
I will NOT.
Several years ago I tore the veil of apathy and ignorance from my own eyes and stopped listening to the spin and manipulation that was put in front of me — often by those who cared more about protecting the wants of adults and who had no obligation to care about the welfare of my children and their future.
You see, when nothing changes, nothing changes. And having been down the road of inadequate education personally, without disruption, I can expect no better for my own children.
But fortunately (or unfortunately), I am here to disrupt.
So while progressives in Massachusetts continue to rail against charter schools and in favor of the most regressive education policy in history — a policy that allows them to conveniently shrug their shoulders and turn a blind eye to the achievement gaps that plague our communities of color while asking me to sacrifice my children at the altar of dying labor unions because somehow that means “justice” — I’ll be over here still fighting for our children. My children.
I will not be deterred by comfortable tenured college professors who are members of powerful labor unions and a stake in protecting their own self interests, labor leaders who send their own children to private schools — or have no children of their own, or young idealistic “community organizers” who just graduated from Harvard or Brandeis courtesy of Mom and Dad’s trust fund but feel comfortable judging my decisions as a single mother. I am unapologetic and will not be shamed for my choice for my children.
I am a mom. We are in the charter school lottery this week. Wish us luck.