Written by Daniel Fox
My life has been feeling overwhelming recently. It makes me think about what we need to do to really support the kids in our increasingly diverse and segregated city schools who are going through things often objectively harder and newer to them than the busy-ness, pressures, and losses I have been facing as a white, college educated support staff. I’ve also been trying to think through an important question raised by Lisa Delpit: what does it mean to raise “other peoples’ children”, and how does this affect what we, as educators, do in our schools?
For me this question of race showed up in a real way in my senior year of high school, when me and my fellow students began to talk about what was then called the “achievement gap”. In a brief, painful reflection, it became clear that we as students–and teachers–knew that certain students were slated to go to prison, others to state schools, and others to fancy colleges. And not only did we all seem to know this tracking process at hauntingly early ages—five? ten?—but somehow this knowledge didn’t change anything. There seemed to be “nothing we could do”. I’m sure that teachers and students were not the only ones haunted by these seemingly pre-written scripts. Who could feel this harder and more painfully than parents? Raising a child yet feeling powerless to change the trajectory of their son or daughter in a brutal system beyond your control. You see and hear parents trying, or being told, to do all sorts of things in this situation. Discipline your children. Change schools. Send them to live with relatives in Iowa for the summer or forever. Get them into sports. Eliminate their freedom. Show them they are loved.