The High Price of Education

Substandard, "urban" public schools vs. expensive, lily-white private schools? What's a middle-class (bourgie) black parent to do?

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Isn't it depressing that in the end, it all comes down to economics and class, which ultimately lead to race? Few black folks have the wherewithal to navigate beyond the boundaries of race and class. And even for them, for us, there is the challenge of educating our children in the ways of our people, too. I didn't put my child in private school so that she would want to be white.

Finding balance in the disparities between a good education and an abysmal one -- while fortifying a child's self-identity -- feels like walking a tightrope over a lava pit. Even if you have the luxury of choice where many parents don't, what choice will you make?

For my family, we are praying that we will be able to keep footing the private-school bill as we spend evenings, weekends and summers in search of the essential supplementary Jack and Jill-type community that I grew up in. (Jack and Jill of America is an organization founded in 1938 to ensure that black families could establish community and build strong relationships with one another no matter where they lived.)

But honestly, I worry about my child. And I worry about all children in our country. Just as my parents taught me, my daughter's job is to be better than her parents. Her job is to learn all that she can and apply it for the good of future generations. Our job as her parents is to ensure that she has all the tools she needs to achieve that. We need to ensure that all of our children are ready to take the baton and run with it. As one educator recently told me, even though it appears that white children are getting a better break, many of them are just being pushed through the system, too. Most of our children are merely getting by. And that, my friends, represents the promise of disaster when it's their turn to take over our world.

Harriette Cole is a nationally syndicated advice columnist, best-selling author and contributing editor of The Root.

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