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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

A better school for my child

Students must win a charter lottery to enroll in the School of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee.

Lane Wright  and his wife bought a home in a racially and economically diverse neighborhood in Tallahassee, he writes on Education Post. It’s zoned for low-performing schools, but their five-year-old son won the lottery for the top charter school in the city, the School of Arts and Sciences.

His kids are black, like nearly everyone at the zoned school, but they’re also middle class, with two college-educated parents.

On the one hand, finding a way to not attend our zoned school feels like we’re abandoning the kids who have to go there, but as a father, my first responsibility is to provide the best opportunities for my own children.

There aren’t enough good choices, he writes. Charter and district schools with mostly poor, mostly minority students are struggling. “The magnet and IB programs seem to reinforce segregation between Black and White, and between the rich and poor students within the same school.”

Zachary Wright, a white father in Philadelphia, moved to a much smaller, just as expensive house so his five-year-old son could attend a high-performing school. He can afford to make that choice, he writes, also on Education Post. Many people can’t.

Last December, I wrote a piece about the cognitive dissonance of being a teacher who fights daily for educational equity, while also playing the heavily privileged game of school access for my own children. Since then, my son, who has autism, has, unsurprisingly, been denied from all private schools to which we’ve applied. These schools felt, probably correctly, that they couldn’t provide the services my son requires. Such is their prerogative.

They applied to five district schools, but didn’t get in to any of them.

Their son was guaranteed admission to a low-scoring school five blocks from their home that’s 90 percent black and 100 percent low-income.

Five blocks in the other direction, but outside their zone, is a high-scoring school in an affluent neighborhood that’s majority white and Asian; only 28 percent of students come from low-income families.

So, they moved.

We utilized our resources to give us school choice, precisely the type of school choice that so many anti-choice advocates exercise for their own families while working to deny others the same privilege by insisting they wait yet another generation for their neighborhood schools to improve.

“I’m absolutely ashamed of the games we have to play to ensure our children access to high-quality education” Wright concludes.

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