Sunday, July 3, 2011

30 for 30 Summer 2011: Outfit 18

There were a lot of failed moments today. We went to the pool, but 40 minutes later had to leave because of threatening storms. While home, we realized we left the pool prematurely, as no actual storm came through. I had a small dinner, more of a snack, because I had a book club meeting. Or so I thought. The July 4th meeting pushed it back to next week. We went to the gym instead. They closed an hour earlier than we thought they would so I only got in 20 minutes on the elliptical. And now I'm wondering if I should have second dinner. In the mean time, here's my dress that nobody actually saw today:
White cami - American Eagle, Yellow dress - Nordstrom, Gold Espadrilles - Michael Kors
Yes, my hair's in my face. What do you want me to do about it?
Here's the book I thought I'd be discussing tonight, Hope and Despair in the American City: Why there are no bad schools in Raleigh by Gerald Grant. I finished it at the pool (not today but) two days ago, and it was excellent. Highly recommended if you want to learn more school reform, depressed big cities, or Wake County.

I couldn't believe how well-written this book is. To be honest, I thought it would be dull and a chore to read, though the topic interested me. When I got it from the library and saw that it wasn't huge, I immediately felt better. I thought I would just read the first chapter and take it in small chunks. It ended up sucking me in and I read half of it in one sitting. The author's backstory and the way he describes the failings of Syracuse as a city and their school system reads smoothly, while still giving you facts, and I think it helps that he has lived there for a long time. You can see Grant's love for his city and his hope for reform but you can also see...well, the despair. When he gets to NC, he gives some history since Reconstruction and brings it all the way to modern day (this was published in 2009). Through his interviews with teachers, school board members, etc., he gives you just as much of a picture as he did with Syracuse. It made me happy, hopeful, proud. I kept telling my husband facts and stories (to the point where he had to tell me to really stop. When he saw I wouldn't stop, he was bullied into a full conversation.), and as soon as I finished, I tried to sneak it into his hands. I truly want every parent to read this, especially those in Wake County. But not just parents, because this is bigger than that. Anybody that wants to live in a growing, healthy city. Anybody that believes in equality in education. It makes me feel kind of cheesy saying that, but this book got me really inflamed.

There have been a lot of arguments and changes since this book was published, and I think we all need to get educated on the matter. I looked around online to see if Mr. Grant had any updates since the book's epilogue, but couldn't find anything. I share his hope, though, that the reforms Wake County put in place years ago catches hold in other places. Bit hard to have that faith, though, when it's falling apart here.

This is one of the first articles I found on Wake County's changed situation:

Here's one of the parts that pains me the most:
"Parents and residents who spoke in favor of the new policy at Tuesday’s board meeting said busing for the purpose of economic diversity poses an unfair burden on families, in terms of costs to the district and in time that children could spend on learning rather than being transported."

I get that busing kids for long periods of time totally sucks. But if it benefits all kids in the long run as Grant's book successfully argues (at least in my opinion), then why can't we all suck it up and just deal with it? It sounds so small and selfish to complain about extra time on a bus when you know some poor kid is really benefiting from being in a more economically-neutral environment, a good school, no matter what that kid's parents' situation is. As far as spending more time learning rather than being transported...oof, I can't really handle that. Yes, the amount of time spent at school as opposed to traveling to school is obviously important. But it's also the quality of the education. The quality of the teachers. And that's not going to be the same if schools are broken down more by neighborhoods. Ugh, I can't keep talking about this because it's so darn frustrating and makes me want to argue with every privileged person that has never looked at the other side of the coin.


  1. Really cute dress! I haven't seen it before. I'll have to check out that book! When I first read the title I thought why is Michelle reading this boring book but you changed my mind.

  2. Yes, read it! It's really good, and important to know what these changes can mean for the entire county.