Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 3 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/7/21

Choosing A Public School

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   No comments
Author 503224
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Carl Petersen
Become a Fan
  (6 fans)
"I stole a look over at my husband, nervous he would be comparing this school with its peeling corner paint to the fancy private school campus. He wasn't. Instead, he whispered 'The kids look happy. Let's go here.'"
- Audrey Wauchope Lieberstein

In the first four articles of the Voices From The Community series (here, here, here, and, here), representatives of constituencies throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) expressed their concerns about the district and detailed how they would like to move forward. This new installment takes a different direction with LAUSD parent Audrey Wauchope Lieberstein writing about why she chose to send her child to Dixie Canyon Avenue Elementary School, a public school in the San Fernando Valley:

"


(Image by Audrey Wauchope Lieberstein)   Details   DMCA

When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, there was no talk about "school choice." Private schools and charter schools were not discussed. It was inconceivable that you would not send your child to the local public school. In white suburban Connecticut, we were proud of our schools. In fact, families moved to a town FOR the schools it provided.

Imagine my shock some twenty years after my public school graduation when I heard the whispers around me about schools in my new home of Los Angeles. They were casual at first, perhaps a throw-away comment by someone: "We wish we could go to our local public school but you know... LAUSD." Did I know? I didn't, it seemed. But surely soon I would figure it out.

Those whispers grew louder as I approached giving birth. I would sit in a room surrounded by my peers at work and listen to the tales of private schools and sometimes a charter (always by the founding parents). I was confused but I admit, completely willing to believe the hype that it was just not possible to send your child to public school if you wanted a decent education in this city.

Meanwhile, I was about to get my own education about education in Los Angeles. I met a man who had a daughter and followed along their school journey as she started at a lovely private school. I went to drop-offs, clapped at concerts, and smiled through fundraisers. It was, as everyone had said, a wonderful education.

And then it was my time to send my own child to school. I knew deep down that I did not want to send her anywhere other than my local public school. I did not want to have to worry about applications and not being enough and keeping up with every Jones possible. I did not want to worry about money every night of my life. I did not want to teach my children that getting into a school through an application process meant you were more worthy than someone else or that it was okay for a family to demand "better" than what others down the street got.

I thought a lot about that word "better." Sometimes at night, the thought started to creep into my brain - what does "better" actually mean? Does it just mean" Wealthy? White? Both? Did it mean a manicured campus and the ability to fundraise? I needed to see for myself what the alternative to "better" actually meant.

A full three years before our child was set to begin kindergarten my husband and I signed up for a tour of our neighborhood school. I felt silly and out of place, a woman with a preschooler who did not need to know anything about her school for years. We walked through the campus - a mixture of what people look down on (grey paint! So much blacktop! Where is the shade?) and cute murals depicting dolphins, the school mascot. A "buddy bench" painted so that kids could have a place to sit with a friend smiled back at me. An enthusiastic PE teacher stopped his relay races to wave 'hi.'

We took a seat in the auditorium to be greeted by a loveable teacher who loudly proclaimed that HER children had gone to the school. I stole a look over at my husband, nervous he would be comparing this school with its peeling corner paint to the fancy private school campus. He wasn't. Instead, he whispered "The kids look happy. Let's go here."

And that is how, three years later, I found myself sitting through Kindergarten on Zoom. Not exactly the start of school I had envisioned on that tour. Yet, through the computer screen, I have witnessed my daughter's amazing teacher pull magic out of the air to teach twenty-three kids how to read. I have watched a community come together through a global pandemic, parents helping in quiet ways most will probably never know about. I have made friends through Zoom and Slack as we discuss how to make our campus more equitable. I have found a home in the middle of a big city. A home in a place that a different version of myself once drove past and written off as an "ugly building." Sometimes now I slow down as I drive past the campus and I let my daughter dream about running through the gates. Because to her, that school is beautiful.

________________________________

Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Carl Petersen Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Make it a Headline When Trump Actually Tells the Truth

California Senate Candidate Alison Hartson on Education

Three Headlines That Got Buried Last Week

If Money Continues to Talk, We're Screwed

Bright Shiny Objects: Trump's Real Art is Diverting Attention

Finding Hope in Florida

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   


You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 

Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

No comments  Post Comment

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment