I want to talk about public schools and my city. I need to share what kids want and what I want for my kids. I am curious why you chose the school you chose and where you live. We need to talk about our ZIP codes, and why they matter to us and God.
Then when it gets to be too much, we can sit in silence over tea for a while.
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By Catherine McNiel
A Suburban Chicago School District, Illinois
My first encounter with the local elementary school crossing guard was six years ago, the year my oldest child was in kindergarten. In my eyes, it seemed the height of reason that I double-park my car in front of the school, just for a moment, to send my small boy off safely—without parking blocks away and unearthing my babies from their car seats.
The crossing guard did not agree.
Johnson City Schools, Johnson City, TN
District 41, Glen Ellyn, IL
By Sarah Lindsay
Most parents experience at least a twinge of emotion as they send their child off to kindergarten: that first day of school marks a significant transition. I certainly felt that when I dropped off my oldest for the first time. But for me, the twinge was heightened by the fact that I wasn’t just sending my daughter into a new experience for her — I was entering a new experience myself.
You see, I was homeschooled.
We’re not from here. Lansing isn’t where we were born or raised; our relatives live hours away. Sometimes we joke that’s by design. Sometimes we don’t make that joke. …….
Um. So, as I meant to imply, when family visits, it’s a big deal. It’s an event. We roll out all the good stuff: we eat at the soup place or the crepe place or the place with all the local beers. We go to the art museum or we hike at a park or we play games at our kitchen table. We show them all the highlights.
By Stephanie Reeves
Orange County Public Schools; Orlando, Florida
Our high school sits nestled in the back of a low-income neighborhood, bordered by a Catholic church and run-down houses, many with jacked-up cars sitting in carports lined with discarded appliances and other paraphernalia of living.
It’s a neighborhood I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking in after dark.
As a teacher in Wichita Public Schools; Wichita, Kansas
As a parent of students in Springdale School District; Springdale, Arkansas
By Rhonda Franz
When my husband and I looked into school options for our first child, I went to observe in classrooms, having equipped myself with a notepad, sharp observation skills, and my perspective as an educator who once taught public school.
So, when I observed for a morning in a kindergarten class at our local elementary, I watched with a trained eye. How did the teacher make her lesson applicable to the students? What did she do about the fidgety kids distracted by peers and giggles and a dead bug on the floor ten feet away?
Seven miles here covers three school district boundaries, each distinct. I’ve been thinking a lot about that number lately, as I’ve taken up moonlighting as a substitute teacher. (Writing doesn’t pay the bills and patrons are hard to find — call me if you know a guy.) As a sub, I’m a casual observer and active participant in a day with a bunch of different kids and professionals. I love these people. And it’s obvious: going inside schools matters.
By Sheli Massie
Nancy Hill Elementary, District 129
West Aurora Schools, Aurora, IL
When my oldest daughter was in second grade a student in her class pulled a knife on the teacher. I was young and scared. And that is how I reacted: scared. I pulled her from the school and enrolled her younger sister and her into a private Lutheran school we could not afford. We ate ramen noodles and drank watered down milk just to make payments. They went from a school of over 500 to one under 60. The only diversity was the lunch lady. At the time it was a fear-based response. I reacted and did not respond.
We got a haul one weekend earlier this month. We got sales pitches, free pencils and pens, and plastic cups with logos. Each schools’ booth in the Eastern High School gymnasium was trying hard to capture our attention — and our kids’ — with free swag and candy — or pet a snake, color a button, make a Lorax mustache, spin the wheel for a prize. The kids dumped all their goodies in a free backpack with an orange Tiger logo on the back, then asked to go see the next booth, the next one! They’re passing out emoji erasers!