Monday, October 12, 2009

Diversity, is it really so bad?

After reading a post by my blogging (and real life) friend Heather, I wanted to put in my two cents. Rather than retyping the history she listed, check out her entry to get the background. Also, as a teacher, I am very sensitive to the publicness of a blog and I don't like to post negative things about my school or district. I also love my job and love my school and wouldn't ever want to jeopardize that.

I started posting this as a comment on her blog and then, after it started getting way too long, decided it would be best posted here.

Heather, I join you in your disappointment with the changes that will likely come from the recent school board elections. Lke you, I can understand both sides of the issue but I also felt very disenfranchised as a parent because the seat for my area was not up for reelection. Instead, the choices made by parents in other areas has made the decision for me and my child. As a teacher of ESL students (NOT all Hispanic) I worry that my students will all be shuttled together to a high need, high poverty school, that the "extra money" being promised to said schools will not be enough to combat the high needs of its students and will be the first line cut in a tight budget year, and that the needs of my students will be lost in the sea of so many other needs. My students are each so special and have special strengths and abilities as well as needs. Their strengths can not be nurtured when there are so many other pressing concerns. How can anyone be a priority when everyone is a priority?

As every parent wants, I want my child to go to a good school that is reasonably close to home. As a middle class white parent whose child will likely go to a good, high achieving school, regardless of the changes, however, I don't want my child to a school where no one is different. How will that stunt her social growth? I want her to meet, learn with, and become friends with people from other nations, other backgrounds, other abilties and other colors. How much richer will her life be for knowing them? I would be doing her a disservice as a parent if I did not seek out that kind of experience for her since our world is made up of all kinds of people, all special in different ways. How can she learn to look for the strengths and special qualities in others when she only knows one kind of person who looks and talks like her?

I am so blessed to teach at my school where, in one class, I teach students from 6 countries, spanning 4 continents who use 5 different alphabets. They come here legally and not, long-term and temporary, high literacy and low, with solid, interrupted, and sometimes non-existent education. They are rich and poor and just getting by. Some of their parents are university professors, others work at Wal-Mart. They bring to our table perspectives formed by all of that and more. Such diversity of backgrounds and experiences brings untold richness to any school and all of the students therein.