Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going to Battle

There is a battle brewing in my town. Actually the battle has been brewing for almost a decade, we are about to enter an all out war. I am angry. I am scared. I am sad. I am hurt.

The causes of the war are muddled from retelling. People point fingers at the other side saying "that thing you did" caused this which is met with a "we did that because you did this" from an earlier offense.

The two sides are trying to mediate. It feels like we are giving too much. They feel like it has taken too long to get what they legally deserve.

But all I can see is that my children's neighborhood public school, the one we love so much that we knew when we were moving back to the Bay Area we could only go back there, the one we worked so hard to find a house in its boundaries, the one we call ours, may not be ours much longer. A charter school in our town may be given our school site. (There are four schools being considered. With promises to build the displaced school a new school with a bond yet to be passed. But the very real possibility will be drastic redistricting and putting the displaced schools into the other school sites, many of which are overcrowded.)

Principal with school mascotAnd I could explain the injustice of it all. The fact that we are not an underperforming school. No we are an exceptional school and not just because of our test scores. We have an amazing community of families that come together to volunteer in the classrooms and in special programs, to coach sports teams and girl scouts, to care for the families in need of school supplies, babysitting, or even meals for months when one of our own has a medical crisis. I could talk about feeling bullied by rich parents with endless streams of money to continue lawsuits against our district in the best interest of their own students.

But they could also explain the injustice they have experienced. Their neighborhood school being closed a decade ago. The district not supporting their charter. The years they have been on a temporary site, living in portables. At least I hope they can explain it. I hope they truly believe this taking of a public school is really what is best.

I have a friend there. A dear friend. A sister in Christ. And yet, it is hard for me. We had never talked about it before the draft of the mediated agreement came out earlier this month. We had talked about our kids and our schools and our lives. We had supported each other in their school choice, though we live in the same school boundaries.

But now my friend's choice may take away my kid's school. How do I deal with this?

I am committed to my friendship. But it may be hard at times. And I imagine that if one day we decide to meet up at the neighborhood school, like we often do now so our kids can play, and it no longer being our school but theirs it will sting for a bit. But we will move on. We always do.

I know it is just a building. Oh, but it is so much more.

This is a bigger issue than a building. There are some real moral questions here.

The good of the many or the good of the few? The good of the few matters too but which few.

The law as written or the law as intended?

The law or what is right?

Does money rule the world?

When do we stand up and fight?

It's just a building and at the end of the day all of the students will have a school to call home. They just may not recognize many of their peers. Or they may keep their school but at what cost? What will happen to our town through this?

And what about the Christians, the faith communities? How do we respond? How will my friend and I deal with this? For me community is tantamount. That is why I want to keep my school in tact. It is also why I will not let this fight tear apart my friendship with my dear friend. It is why we will walk through this together even as the war gets uglier.

The kids will learn lessons from the adults as we walk down this road. They will learn something. The question is what?


  1. I love your honesty as always Jen. What a dilemma for everyone. If I were the friend you are talking about, I would appreciate your friendship even more.

  2. So would your kids have to go somewhere else? Or would the charter school and teachers be a part of your school (but take over classroom space)?

  3. Whatever public school site the Charter receives will be theirs and all the students currently there will move to other schools until/if a new school is built. They can apply to attend the charter if they want but the few empty slots are done by lottery each year. 

  4. The Charter school has been in existence for 8 years I believe and has their own staff and student body. 

  5. The Charter school has been in existence for 8 years I believe and has their own staff and student body.