My response to John (part 3)
I have lived in
With few family ties in
Whether it is because I missed out, or because I have strong maternal instincts, I think stability and a strong sense of connection is nourishment for young souls. So with sacrifice and intent, this is what my husband and I chose to do. Along with a dose of good fortune, our children have benefited.
Neither my husband nor I were “military brats” yet, due to family moves when we were kids, we lived in a lot of places. My husband attended three different elementary schools in three different towns, three different junior highs in three different towns, and two different high schools in two different towns. I attended four different elementary schools in four separate towns. Fortunately, things settled down for me after I arrived in the town where I spent my junior high and high school years.
This type of childhood takes its toll. It consists of repeatedly developing attachments and then being forced to break those attachments. It is about entering into a school, in a new region of the country, where everyone else knows each other, and doing your best to adjust. It is about feeling alone at school and needing to make new friends, yet again. It is about being forced to say goodbye to those friends, knowing that you’ll never see them, again. It is about being a kid who becomes resilient, or not, by experiencing loss and grieving the loss, over and over and over.
The topics of community and stability, and how important they are, bring me to something that bothers me about the current Jack O’Connell-picked, Eli Broad-trained, and hell-bent-on-“reform” OUSD leadership.
Baby #2: Respect for the community
Of course, my outlook and strong opinions about what is currently going on with OUSD are partly influenced by having had the personal experiences above. I just can’t seem to understand how people can waltz into a community where they have no emotional connection and then care deeply enough about the well-being of that community to know what is right for that community, or to do what is right for that community.
Certainly Eli Broad is brilliant; he’s a billionaire, for Pete’s sake. Certainly he handpicks smart and aggressive people to participate in his programs. Certainly those dynamos know how to apply themselves to an intensely challenging project. Certainly they are personally ambitious; by the time they have become participants in his programs they've been driven for years. Certainly they want to develop their résumés and advance their careers. And since they were brought here from some other place, certainly it is likely that they view
I was stunned (NOT) when I read something on a page of the
Undoubtedly, most of the applicants who come her way are from a similar background. To all of them I say, “Golly gosh, ya didn’t know those things? Well that just means ya need to get right here so you can make things right!” And several few months later, after they've been in OUSD for a while, I'll then ask them, “Are ya having fun yet?”
Perhaps that was one of the causes of our tailspin. For a long time now we Oaklanders have been suffering from a lack of healthy interconnectedness that most certainly relates to our history. We have the hills vs. flatlands folks vs. those in-between, the public vs. private people, the black vs. white, the minority vs. majority, the one minority vs. the other minority, the rich vs. poor, the stay vs. go, the new vs. old, the English speaking vs. non-English speaking, the immigrant vs. non-immigrant, the us vs. them, etc. Who did I forget?
I totally believe that our public schools have an enormous potential to help bring us together if we could make them strong. Unfortunately, I fear that the current OUSD management is steering us in the opposite direction and increasing our fragmentation. Schools are getting closed, chopped up, reopen, reinvented, closed again, etc. Good teachers and strong families can't take it and flee.
When it is expected that children will be transported by their parents to and from their own neighborhoods everyday to specialty schools (I’ve heard them called “boutique”) that are dotted all over the city, community disengagement is increased.
On the block where I live, just one short block filled with little bungalows in a typical
What if “Expect Success” had put some sincere effort into recruiting families like this to attend the neighborhood's public school?
I concluded a letter to the Tribune last summer (Perimeter Primate posting of
The more and more I think about it, I can't imagine feeling any other way.