Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Earser, Please

My sister has three kids. The oldest, Ethan, is a bright boy currently in first grade. Unfortunately, for him, the school that he was to attend was just barely meeting educational standards, with teachers aiming for the middle and barely keeping their classes under control. Because of an imaginary line passing through Ethan’s neighborhood, my sister was told Ethan would have to attend the school that was both further from her house and, for the most part, failing. This, of course, upset my sister, and rightfully so. But since she and her husband didn’t have the money to send Ethan to a private school, there weren’t really any options. She had no choice.

Of course the elementary school that was just down the street, less than a mile from their house, well it was doing wonderfully. Filled with engaged teachers and controlled classrooms, students excelled and exceeded state educational standards. But despite my sister’s reasonable attempts to get her son into the school he deserved, the school system said no. Of course, this was not the right answer. My sister was not going to just passively let Ethan’s right to a good education be thwarted.

Fortunately, for Ethan, his dad’s sister happened to live on the “right” side of the imaginary line. So my sister figured out a way to send Ethan to the better school. She signed over power-of-attorney to her sister-in-law, so that Ethan could attend the best school.

Luckily, my sister and her husband’s sister get along marvelously, so signing over power-of-attorney was really just a formality. Decisions regarding Ethan were still made by his mom. It is, however, unlucky for those millions of kids whom parents don’t have that option.

Millions of kids are affected by these imaginary lines daily. I believe it is time for the lines to be erased.

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