The past several months we’ve been on the great school search.
It’s proven to be quite the puzzle. Like you do, we’re considering all the normal factors – location, diversity, academics.
There it is. The great divide.
Even cost can become null with financial aid or scholarships. But test after test proved good school after good school wouldn’t give these boys the chance they needed.
Ds from last semester had turned to Bs by the end of the year, but years in a failing school and a difficult home environment can’t be overcome in mere months.
If no one teaches a nine-year-old how to round, he won’t know how to round.
And our nine-year-old foster son doesn’t know how to round.
Slowly, intentionally, in time we will help him learn, but we aren’t teachers. And we have enough respect for teachers not to pretend to be.
And so we need teachers. We need a school. A good school.
A school that won’t see a child who’s behind and leave him there. A school who will partner with us in giving these boys what they need and deserve and have been denied too long. The kind encouragement that pushes them to learn.
This great search has brought deep sadness and big questions:
If two college-educated, relatively-wealthy people who have every advantage in life can’t help these boys get into a good school, how do they stand a chance? How do so many who start with so little get anything more? How can we as a society turn our backs?
They wrestle me at night and wake me in the morning.
I finally understand what President Bush meant when he called us to confront “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
It’s what President Obama battles with his My Brother’s Keeper initiative. A report from his White House Council of Economic Advisers explores the barriers disadvantaged youth face, particularly young men of color. It quantifies “the significant disparities in education, exposure to the criminal justice system, and employment that persist between young men of color and other Americans.”
It isn’t right. And it hasn’t been for decades or centuries or ever. Seeing these boys turned away leaves me stricken, yet grateful to finally know. To see this side of segregation. To stop my own ignorance. I’ve always lived as a “have” and finally I’m learning what “have not” means.
And the difference, the divide is ugly.
A school said yes. A good school. With kind teachers and a diverse student body and rigorous academics.
I’m undone by the yes and by the no’s. In love with these boys and tasting the bitterness of discrimination for the first time.