Guest Post: I Could Be A Believer, Or I Could Just Like to Shop.
Here is is, as promised, a guest post by the illustrious Kami Lewis Levin of The Fence!
Working mom, educator, blogger and one of my feminist rolemodels, my friendship with Kami has given me insight as to how blending family and a career might work for me someday.
Want proof that Kami is a totally rock n’ roll mom? When I google image search her this comes up:
Kami’s adorable rockin’ sons!
Lewis Levin, of Skid Row.
Need I say more?
Kami asked me about how my mom’s career influenced me becoming a feminist. Here’s my question for her.
You are a mom of two and an educator. What influenced your decisions to send your son(s?) to the New York City Public Schools? Why do you believe in urban public education? What’s your expectation for your son’s public school experience and how can teachers play a role in it?
For the last 11 years, I have been an urban public school educator. For the last 5 years, I’ve been a mom. Sending my children to public school has always been a given. For one thing, it’s free. And, well, let’s face it, I get paid on a teacher line. Which I’m totally fine with. If my kids can go to school for free. Because, as all the well-informed critics of public school teachers have noted, my extravagant teacher salary coupled with my ability to pay zero tuition for my children’s schooling frees me up to purchase the more important things in life. Trips to Italy. Coach bags. Weekly massages. Blood diamonds.
I’m literally dripping in them.
Fortunately for me (and all the other teachers who are also parents) everyone has the right to a free education.
As per article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
So although I don’t “have to work” summers, or national holidays or weekends, I do anyway. It’s the least I can do considering I plan to send my kids to a free school on my salary.
I actually believe that everyone has the right to a federally funded education. And maybe I believe that my kids and minority kids from the projects all deserve excellent teachers. And after school programs. And rich cultural experiences.
And maybe I believe that kids learn from each other. As we live in a heterogeneous society, it’s incumbent upon us to provide our children with an entree into that society as early as possible.
Maybe I believe that public school teachers are in it to change the world. One kid at a time. With a passion and compassion that can’t possibly be rivaled in the private sector.
Maybe I believe I’d be a hypocrite not to send my kids through the system I’ve poured my sweat into for over a decade. What kind of a testimony to my work would it be if I chose to send my kids to a prep school?
Maybe I believe that public school is the best possible option. Yes, urban class sizes are large. Money is stretched. Resources are hard to come by. But the experience of getting schooled in the community we live in, learning with our neighbors, being in a public building that hosts flea markets on weekends and community theater during the week, are all elements that work together to create something bigger than just school. It’s democracy in action.
Maybe I view that kind of education, the quintessentially American kind that promotes individual voice, assertion of opinions, and freedom of expression, as both a privilege and a right. Maybe it’s what I’ve spent my career fighting for. Maybe it’s the kind of education I owe my kids.
Or maybe, I am just that addicted to painfully expensive shoes.