This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Response to the October 2012 edition article “Painful choices”
Thank you, Benjamin Herold, for another story told with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. I think Karen Lewis was a good choice to profile because she is what the city wants to attract to be a resident – a young, educated professional raising a family. Her story illustrates the stumbling blocks that aren’t always apparent in the “official” discussions.
What a loss for her neighborhood public school, though. They could not understand her objections. Where was the school’s Home and School, which should have helped her? Was there a parent ombudsman in place? How about a School Advisory Council?
This story also illustrates an underlying conflict in class values that is not generally talked about. I am no stranger to the disrespect that was shown to her. There is a real fear of those who are highly educated among a lot of the families that live here, even among many of the teachers and school staff. Just by the way you use English, your abstract values – even if you give generously as Lewis was willing to do in her volunteering – you will be judged as arrogant or imposing, and even “spoiled,” as some of the commenters on the Notebook website stated.
Best of luck to you, Karen, and your son, Cooper!
The writer is a volunteer parent working with Temple’s Community Music Scholars program and the Central High School Music Association.