Thursday, July 20, 2017

Guest Post: Looking at the Big Picture

Yesterday I was wishing for a big picture approach to redistricting that looked at these changes through a lens of compassion. I am grateful to be able to share my friend Bonnie Bricker's thoughts on this topic today.


I try not to enter every discussion here, but I'd like to weigh in with a few thoughts about the redistricting process we are entering. My own kids were redistricted (twice) years ago, and it was wrenching to anticipate the change--and much better than we could have imagined.

In the first case, they were attending a school ranked at #1 by test scores and were being sent to one at the bottom of the list. The former school was a sweet community place with few behavior problems, social or economic issues to be addressed, and also little diversity.  The latter school was the opposite.

The community did not want to be moved. It was tumultuous. But we were wrong.  The receiving school did everything necessary to ensure a smooth transition. A constant refrain of recognizing every student's strength - a message we also taught at home- rang through my children's heads for their entire school career. My children had friends across the human rainbow and from around the world. Glorious.

Their classmates taught them every day about culture and human gifts beyond what words and memes can teach.  My children use what they know about humanity in their adult lives today. 

As you approach your own actions about these changes, I hope you'll allow yourself to think what great gifts can occur when children make changes.  They may learn to be more resilient. They may make more friends and keep their old friends, too. They may be less tied to the beliefs of their current friend group and determine what their own beliefs are with more conviction.

Moreover, as an attempt is made to correct some racial and economic resegregation that has occurred, they are a part of building a better community- perhaps one they will wish to move back to one day, one that shows that every student has a chance to succeed and every parent is willing to be a part of a larger village for all of our children.

No need to tell me that your child is the exception that shouldn't be moved or your neighborhood is being treated unfairly.  Of course, there will be some exceptions and of course, the boundary lines for schools must be examined so that we do this in the fairest way possible.

We do need to ask our schools to implement the best processes for school  transitions.  We must also hold our officials to account for allowing development when public facilities can't manage growth.  Schools are expensive; sometimes our children must shift a bit for the numbers in schools to make sense. As long as we examine the big picture, we'll do right by our children.  They deserve nothing less.


Bonnie Bricker is a retired hcpss teacher. She is the author of "Zoom Out Parenting: The Big Picture Approach to Raising Children" as well as numerous articles on social and public policy.

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