Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Day focused on Education

Yesterday, Tuesday June 19 was a great day. Education of African American children as well as brown and poor children reigned.

Reporting Back to Community.  All who know me or read my blog and other writings know that I believe that those who use public funds, or represent a community on any issue, owe it to us to prepare and deliver in some way a report to community. Two Rainier Beach Students and their teacher Ms. Wong were our presenters at Rotary this week. We meet every Tuesday morning at 7:30 - 8:30 and hear from a variety of people who are doing something important to Rainier Valley.  The students thanked us for our support and reported on their trip to the Elwa River in the Olympic Peninsula. Two hydroelectric dams are being removed.  I found it quite refreshing that students not only come to us for funding but understand the need to report back on their learning. 

Another Seattle Public Teacher joined us as a visitor and the topic of Public Charter Schools Initiative 1240 came up in our discussion. The issue of public charters has been a topic several times. It looks as if Initiative 1240 as written just might get on the ballot November 6, and pass this time. It is important that African American parents and community understand all elements of what a public charter school is and how it can enhance or diminish the education of their children.  My personal position is that if black, brown and parents and their communities are not informed and included beyond the token few in the conversations there is a danger that if and when they come into being, others continue to maintain control of our children's education. Those who have information should share it widely and deeply.  

Later in the evening Rep. Eric Pettigrew responded to an invitation to meet with a parent who has been traumatized by the lack of services and responses for services needed for her son who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, extreme Autism, Behavioral disabilities and is non verbal. Any clear thinking person would think that this child and mother is being supported by our state and other funded systems and services. Our systems are complex and too often do not get to those who need them most. This mother is Ethiopian American and her son African American as he was born right here in Swedish Hospital.  She has done everything any would expect her to do. Her story is sad but more usual than any who is not engaged with our parents would think.  She is not unintelligent, she owns her own successful business and her other child entered University of Oregon at age 16.
In advocating for families of the most difficult students, I have learned many things. One thing I know is that privilege is what makes the difference. Privilege comes in many forms sometimes it is money, sometimes it is education, and sometimes is relationships.  Just wanting a good education for your child is not a guarantee that the child will be educated. She had the resources to get her daughter into private schools, but it take great wealth to care for an extremely disabled child outside of our public education, health and social service systems.

I visited Community Center for Education Results but this requires its own Dawn Seattle the Retired One Blog entry. I have to think about the conversation I had and who I had it with.  

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