A reminder for when the idealism fades for neighborhood schools

Grand Rapids Public Schools; Grand Rapids, Mich.

By Meryl Herr

Guest writer

This year as winter lingered, quickly freezing any sign of spring, my passion for investing in our neighborhood public school grew cold. My hope, my idealism, my energy wore thin.  

When the cracks in my perseverance began to show, doubt seeped in and a familiar idea took root: “Do what’s best for your child, what’s best for your family.” Was this low-performing, under-resourced public school the best choice for my child?

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What a difference seven miles makes to schools, students

Seven miles.

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.

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Choice programs give new meaning to ‘school shopping’

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!

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What it looks like to choose the local school anyway

By Courtney Everts Mykytyn, guest writer

Los Angeles, CA

When our oldest was approaching kindergarten in our corner of Los Angeles, I was worried. Kindergarten is a big step and he was such a little boy and, well, I had caught school anxiety from fellow parents, colleagues, the interwebs, and simply via cultural osmosis. Which school would be the “right fit” for my kid and our family’s values? Where would my son and his younger sister truly thrive? School anxiety seems to be the very air we parents breathe. […]

Why our family struggles with Schools of Choice

Just about every weekday morning, I drive 12 minutes south to an elementary school in a Lansing suburb. All my girls attend this year: it’s a K-4 public school. We love that place: the teachers and staff are warm and friendly, art class rocks, the field trips are fantastic, the principal welcomes kids by name as they unload from the drop-off line.

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Their story: Teaching players ‘what they’re capable of’

Maybe the most important work of the Lansing Youth Football Club team isn’t what happens on the field.

Sure, soccer matters to the dozen and a half guys on the team. Almost every day the players carpool to Lansing’s Francis Park for two or three hours of practice. Occasionally they scrimmage teams from Grand Rapids. They train for tournaments in Detroit, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“This (team) is our passion,” said one of the team’s captains, Damber Magar. Like most of the players on this independent soccer team, Damber’s family are Bhutanese and came to Lansing as refugees from Nepal. Damber’s family was resettled through St. Vincent Catholic Charities in 2010.

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Authors event: Small Things are Small-Town Things, too

To welcome someone into your home is to show them what you think’s important. Remember the first friend-date you had as an adult? For mine, I was staging my coffee table with smart books and a candle (I should’ve dusted the dust jackets first for maximum credibility).

Now, you know you’re my friend if you walk into the space now occupied by Lego, library books, and eleven hundred little scraps of paper Louisa tells me are “bookmarks.” (I love you and I can’t keep up with my many, many children, is what my living room says.)

But to welcome someone to your hometown is to show them something deeper, something maybe mitochondrial. Ah yes, I’ve said when I see friends’ hometowns. I can see this place in you. 

So, that’s happening next week at a book event in the place where I graduated, got married, and flee to when I need my mom.

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And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been

“You must be coming to visit me!” We were halfway around our block when were stopped by a wave from our octogenarian neighbor who lives behind us. We weren’t technically coming to visit, but our walk turned into a tour of her ever-changing garden. Her garden is her thing: I notice her from the kitchen Read more about And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been[…]