22 Comments

I love love LOVE this. We fell into the established upper middle class white way of doing school for our kids: moved out of NYC to a highly rated school district and managed to survive all the crap you name in this post — as did our kids, who turned out great nonetheless. But the older and more tuned in I got to what actually matters to me, as opposed to what I spent the earlier part of my life either tolerating or unconsciously absorbing by osmosis (I grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan in the 60s and 70s), the more I knew that given a do-over, I would do it differently (although for sure there would be a struggle with my spouse over how "challenging" or not a school was.... He's pretty definite on that score — and in fact my kids needed challenge, although I think they would have experienced a lot more joy absent the pressure-cooker craziness of our high school...).

Anyway. I'm not worried about what my kids will do if they have kids — they're SO much more clued in to what's screwed up about this culture than I was at either of their ages (31 and 24) — partly because they grew up with the internet, partly because they're both gay, partly because of the choices and amazing friends they've made negotiating young adulthood — and, of course, partly because what's been screwed up for generations has lately turned so obviously and completely unhinged.

Thanks so much for this post — it's sent me out into the day feeling joyful myself — just as your post about the Black History Month performance did — and repeating that headline like a mantra. Say it with me, gang: generational. change. cannot. be. banned. ❤️

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

Thank you for sharing this joy, and for reminding me about it. Need this reminder when I am frustrated by our urban public high school and tempted to measure it against more affluent suburban high schools that seem to run more efficiently and with so much more $$. But where's the joy?!

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

Thanks for sharing this Courtney. I am new to you posts and I am old enough to be your mom or grandmom ...I long for my grandchildren to experience these kinds of communities, stay brave and strong and loving!

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When I think about my days in school, I don’t remember the tests, the reports, or the math problems. I remember the events like what you share -- the celebrations in which everyone brings a dish from their family’s recipe, a field trip to a local farm, a visit to the post office to see our local workers, or a simple time we were allowed to be outside and draw the native tree. These are the things that are important to the culture of a school and a community and we should do more of them.

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May 31·edited May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

Another opportunity for solidarity when I need it. Thank you for your generosity. I've noticed more space for creative opportunity and risk at my children's racially and socioeconomically diverse middle school. My daughter sang a rather challenging Sondheim solo in an auditorium last week. She (sort of) stayed on key, my nerves calmed, my lungs filled... all the kids and grown-ups in attendance applauded and I thought first: not bad, phew; and second: at many other schools, only the most highly trained, experienced, "talented" students would get that kind of chance, and that tier might not include most of these awesome kids expressing their little brave hearts out.

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

I am loving these glimpses at how your girls are growing up so awake and alive with curiosity and compassion. They are already helping to bring a new world into being - with some wise help from the grown-ups in their lives.

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

You are incredibly fortunate to experience and actually appreciate these beautiful moments of sheer joy. From my vantage point of old age, such times of great clarity are utterly vital yet fleeting.

If only more education for children could match these! I’m full of admiration and envy. It’s wonderful that you have these rich opportunities available for all involved, kids and parents. Thanks for sharing this inspiring narrative. DD

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Hooray for all the inspired teachers and admin who know how to share the love in Oakland!

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

I love reading about Maya’s and Stella’s school activities and experiences. I would write that you are brave to let them attend a non-traditional school — but I think a better word is “smart.”

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May 31Liked by Courtney Martin

LOVE!!! It makes me want to go back to school!

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Thank you for this. We left DC 2 years ago for the affluent suburbs of VA - because frankly, I couldn't get comfortable with my percieved level of education in our local schools. And I didn't want to to send my kids to private schools and drive all around town. Our school in DC was a Montessori school - while lovely, very Christian, very white, very small and a bit of group think in the small community . Now at a public school in a wealthy demo - more diverse (but, sadly, there are no black people in northern va) in race and religion, but not socio-economics. And dealing with all that PTA, fundraising, too many email nonsense. My kids find absolute JOY in their community - and love it. Me - eh. But I'm a picky, jaded, adult - LOL.

What you share is lovely - and I'm a little jealous. It's a good reminder - that education comes in many different forms for our kids. And also a reminder - you gotta step up if you want change. I'm so bringing this children marketplace to our school. :).

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This was the first thing I read this morning. Not the news, not work emails, this. And it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it, Courtney!

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founding

I was actually Marc Chagall! (Jonah was Picasso) And I would love to buy five of Maya’s bookmarks...

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This is amazing. A great reminder for all of us White parents (like me) to move aside and make room for joy. Unfettered, unregulated, unregulated. We need to make room for messiness. I love Maya’s perspective on the bouncy castle juxtaposed against your bike rodeo lines. Also perfect. ♥️

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I feel convinced by this!

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Thank you so so so much for this. My 2 white daughters just finished their first year at a school a lot like Emerson, and last night it ended with an absolutely amazing and loud and joyous elementary step team performance (that we found out about a few hours beforehand). When I read your piece I was thinking of the curated visuals of the rich, white children giving concerts on a dais in an endowed theater while quiet adults watched and got their money's worth at the city's fancy private school that just raised an obscene amount in a 24-hour span. At the step performance by contrast, we adults were on our feet, loud, absolutely bursting with the proud and beautiful energy the steppers hard work and dedication to each other and practicing brought into the room. I'm so happy we made this move to this community.

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