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Why We Send Our Kids to the Poorest Public School
Image: Courtesy of Phil Roeder / Flickr.com

Why We Send Our Kids to the Poorest Public School

It's not just my own kids' well-being that matters anymore.
Almost everyone said, "Leave. Your children will suffer." And then someone gave me an essay by John Perkins, and he said, "Stay."

And then I spent a lot of time repenting. I could change my situation if I wanted to. Most of the other families couldn't. I asked people at our church and in other cities what we should do. Almost everyone said, "Leave." "Your children will suffer," they added. And then someone gave me an essay by John Perkins, the wonderful Christian community developer, and he said, "Stay."

God Was Already Present

So we stayed. We met the Christian teachers at the school. One of my son's "brown" classmates asked him if he would pray for his dad, and they began praying and playing together, and eight years later remain best friends. We met the staff of a ministry providing tutoring and mentors for these kids. God showed us that he had been there long before we arrived.

But I still wept and worried and wondered what I could do. Almost simultaneously I had two pastors, including my husband, say, "Trust God with your children." I was mad. I didn't want to trust God. I just wanted things to change.

So I partnered with another mom in the neighborhood. We spoke at school board meetings. We pushed to hire a new principal and a full-time ESL coordinator. We figured out a way to raise $3,000 for the PTO through bake sales, grantwriting, local business donations, and the best darn bingo night you've ever seen.

Just as I was getting a handle on the school setting, beginning to trust and to join what was being done to fight the achievement gap, God opened my eyes to something called the opportunity gap.


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Displaying 2–5 of 5 comments

Cornelia Seigneur

October 12, 2013  2:11am

I love this story! Fabulous testimony of living out your faith and the faith of your family- You are showing-living out- that we can impact the local schools. I love the details you share of how you trust the Lord for your children's lives, in such a tangible way. So many people say the words, but you live it out! This quote is awesome: "As I began to make decisions about my children's lives in a different way. What if I didn't only think about the fabulous life I could make for my three? What if I stood up for not only what was good for mine, but was good for all? What size car would be big enough to carpool other kids? What sports league should we play in so that everyone could participate?"- it is such a great way to teach your children compassion. Though we do not send our kids to an inner-city school as we live in the burbs, we speak about this so often, and reach out to a Sudan refugee community in N. Portland. It is huge in our lives EXCELLENT story- Cornelia Becker Seigneur


October 09, 2013  9:44pm

Jennifer, we lived and raised our two girls in the inner city & public schools. We also tutoring, served on the community advisory council, and so on. Many were helped; the schools improved. Our girls got hurt (but mostly from other kids in church); they missed out - their education wasn't on par of many Christian kids. Neither finished college - yet. Now they are young adults, married, with kids. One married the most godly young man, an immigrant, who pastors a multicultural church that is seeing lots of people come to the Lord. Our daughter leads the youth group of second generation immigrants - the kids are sticking with God. Our other daughter has radar to seek out hurting people no matter their ethnicity and provide much support. Yea, they missed out on being "successful," if success is lots of money and moving in important circles. But in terms of the Kingdom, their "education" means they move in any circles and understand what "real" life & ministry is all about.

D. McDonald

October 09, 2013  6:11am

We shouldn't look at this article as a one-size-fits-all template for all families, but amen, amen, amen! Parents are never going to create a Christian utopia for their children, so let's stop trying, and let's stop pretending this "ideal" cozy bubble lifestyle is what God wants for them anyway. This selfish 'put-yourself-first' mindset is inappropriate for us, so we shouldn't insist on teaching our children that it should be important in their lives, where we make everything a 'put-them-first-over-everyone-else' mindset. How will they not be influenced by society's materialistic and individualistic tendencies if this is the example they see in us? Yes, we are certainly called to take care of them, protect them, etc. first, but it should not come at the expense of others. We and our children are called to love our neighbors, not avoid them. In the end, this line is worth repeating once more: "What if I stood up for not only what was good for mine, but was good for all?"


October 08, 2013  3:36pm

Jennifer, you have articulated well the fact that we are to actively seek God's kingdom daily in our lives and teach our children to do the same. Too often what we think our kids need is not what they actually need for maturity in Christ, and you are giving your children a wonderful gift of learning to love others that are not like them; Just as Jesus did. You are not "sacrificing your children" per another's comment; You are raising them as God has led you to do and He will bless you and them with spritiual maturity. Thank you for your wonderful article!


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