March 1, 2010

Johnny wants to learn

Portrait of a schoolboy working in a class setting

I think I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The past several months I have been consumed. In Chicago, choosing a high school is a process that mimics (and exceeds) the stressed madness of applying for college. Your middle school counselor encourages each family to choose 5 top choices - or risk attending your neighborhood school which, as many of you are aware, may include a death sentence, especially if you have a young man of color, which I do.

Each category of schools tenders a difficult test. Private schools administer one test, Catholic schools another, and premier public schools their own. It is survival of the fittest. AND, as a parent, you are simply a snowflake in the breeze.

Thankfully my son was accepted into his first choice. He has been "wait-listed" everywhere else, but I feel that (knock knock knock) I can finally breathe!

My heart and thoughts go out to those whose children were not accepted anywhere, or who do not have any other options. It is a sad assessment, as our country fights for the basic rights of quality health care, that in a metropolis such as this, a good education is a lottery of wills. From the Native American Reservations to the back woods of the North East, all should be privy to outstanding education and health care.

Every child deserves to attend a school that will service their needs, expand their minds and better their chances of achieving their aspirations. They also deserve to be healthy, with their health being managed affordably and by practitioners who really care about patients. Their well-being in the hands of physicians and staff who are not slaves to lobbyists and pharmaceutical companies. Call it whatever you want (teabaggers) but if I did not have the ducketsand the drive to get my child the best, does that make him less worthy?

I disagree. Every child deserves the chance, and if they personally squander it by allowing their circumstances to get the better of them, well THEN so be it.

Meanwhile, I will be, once again, under financial strain, as will all of his classmates' parents, and probably many of you, as we endure more years of payments - but being able to rest assure that, at least while in the walls of high school, they will be safe, learning, and at ease.

I will though, be worrying about the rest of the city's youth.

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