I had dinner with a student and her mom at their house tonight. They thought it was such a treat that I was “working longer hours” to spend time with them. I never would have called it work – I thought it was such a treat that a family had me into their home and shared a meal with me.
It’s nice to get time to bond with a student. It’s nice to get to know a parent. It’s nice to get to be a person and just relax with a family. I loved being there.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get nicer, the daughter went upstairs to find something to show me and the mother started talking to me. She thanked me for coming and for how much I take care of her daughter. Then she told me about how grateful she was that her daughter was at our school. She was overwhelmed by how much her daughter is learning, by how much attention she gets, by the values that permeate our school, by the culture we’ve created with a very diverse group of kids… she just went on. Her eyes welled with tears and her voice cracked while she talked about how well her daughter is doing this year.
It made me really proud of our school. And I’m so touched that a parent would share all of that thankfulness with me.
Yet of course, I can’t help but think about the Charter Wars as I write this. We spend so much time arguing over policy and general education ideas. We back it up with a lot of analysis of test scores and where they could have been fudged. But if my school is an exception to many of the charter policy stereotypes, and it doesn’t even have test scores yet to discuss, can I sit back and just judge it on whether or not we’re doing good things for children? Could we ever always judge schools like that? If you can get kids from a broad swath of the city to work together and get a great education, does it matter if you’re public, private, or charter?
Something to think about.