Some of you may know that I’m a mamma. Yep, in addition to tirelessly working to destroy America with my wanton homosexual lifestyle I live a life of minivan carpools, frustrating homework nights, teenage nail polish disasters and Halloween costume meltdowns. Maybe you didn’t realize I am the mamma to two girls who attend inner-city schools in Atlanta. Over 10 years ago I helped found a charter school and now have a daughter attending a traditional public (APS) school. In case you didn’t know, rumor has it that Georgia ranks pretty low as far as public education goes and some of our city of Atlanta schools are at the bottom of that barrel. What is true is that history has shown us less than 50% of the children who begin school at Maynard Jackson High School are likely to graduate. It is true that gang violence is a daily issue that breaks my heart and scares the daylights out of me. It is true that some parents, students, teachers and administrators bring the very least (and some the worst) of themselves to the community. But for now, we stay – and we work. Oh yeah, there is work to be done.
Today we welcomed a new principal to our high school - Ms. Stephanie Johnson. She has turned around other schools, most recently in Clayton County, so I want to believe she knows a thing or two about school improvement. I got to meet her for the first time this morning at a parent/principal coffee meet and greet. I think I’m gonna like her ’cause I really I like smart women!
A conversation from this morning’s coffee has stayed with me and I wanted to share my rumination and see what y’all think. The topic of school uniforms came up and there was a bit of contention about going to uniforms at MJHS.
See – I really, really do not like uniforms (shocking I know) but I had to stop and think about two main things.
First – If this little change in the culture of our school will help in any way increase the self-esteem of some students, impact the safety of all our children and help turn around (in even teeny ways) the overall lack of regard for the school experience for some of our community then I am willing to set aside my own feelings to see what can happen. I’m not silly, I know school uniforms are not the magic dust to solve all our issues but maybe, just maybe, if this woman has experience confirming it to be so, uniforms could be a piece of the puzzle that contributes to an atmosphere of engaged excellence rather than begrudging mediocrity. Today I am choosing a posture of trust.
Second – Regarding to the notion of “expressing our individuality” (about which I have often been the loudest squawker) through our clothes; I hope the greater lesson that is learned by our children (and all of us) is that individuality need not be expressed through material goods. Truly, our individuality is matter of heart and mind that is made evident by our behavior. My jeans do not define me any more than my sexuality, body mass, abilities/disabilities or skin color wholly define who I am. I seem to recall a great man once said something about the content of our character.
Sorry for this tangent, I will return you to our regularly scheduled programming of big ole Jesus-y glitter bomb.