I Couldn’t Waste Her Potential

“I fled Gary also, but it wasn’t entirely because of fear, it had nothing to do with anyone’s skin color…”

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Transcript for I Couldn’t Waste Her Potential

I left Gary when I realized I did not want Kelly to go to Gary schools. I wanted my child to have a quality education; I got a quality education in Gary schools. My graduating class was 560 something odd students. Of those students there was I think a little over 26% graduated with honors, which I think is a pretty big deal in an inner city school. I didn’t want Kelly to be subjected to what I found to be a lower standard of life.

Kelly was bright from the beginning. Four years old she could read. Five years old she was doing math. In Kindergarten she narrated the three little pigs. Her class was doing a play, and no kid can remember their part, so when a kid got stumped, Kelly had her microphone and she whispered, “and he huffed and he puffed,” you know, stuff like that. I couldn’t waste her potential.

Staying in Gary and investing in Gary was a thought. I had classmates who had come back home. I had friends who were teachers in the Gary school system. Couldn’t believe how it had changed. Just using Roosevelt as an example: how it went from this extremely proud place to be, disciplined, floor so shiny it looked like glass. You were proud to go to Roosevelt. You felt honored to go to Roosevelt. There was no profanity in the hallways. There was no disrespecting teachers. And it’s not to say kids didn’t get in trouble. You got in trouble if you didn’t do your homework. The kids who did talk back, they were dealt with. There were parent conferences, or suspensions, or some type of disciplinary action was taken. There was never a situation where a classroom was out of control or where we had armed police in the school or anything like that.

I saw what was happening, and I did make a conscience effort. I stayed active in Girl Scouts. Trying to teach volleyball, crocheting, just anything to to occupy a mind, to teach something positive. But you know when that child doesn’t have the support of their parent, or when that child already feels defeated, when they’re ten years old, twelve years old… I didn’t have what it took.

And for me personally, at that point in my life, Kelly was my only concern. I had to work, my husband had to work. My spare time went to my daughter. I had to ensure her quality of life. I had to ensure that she got out of public school what she could get out of it. And every day I hoped and prayed… I hope Kelly experiences what I experienced in school—quality teachers, teachers who cared. My penmanship was so horrible. It would just be smudge on white paper. And my teacher, who graduated school with my dad felt that connection to me. “Oh, I know your dad, we graduated from high school. I’m going to give you this to take home.” Kind, you know. Absolute caring.

You don’t have those kind of teachers anymore. You have teachers who have to combat … its always the disciplinary problems. It’s always the parent only shows up when they think you’ve wronged their child. They don’t come when the kids bringing home Fs. They don’t come when the kids been absent for two months. But let that kid come home and say, “Oh, this teacher said this to me,” or “This teacher said that,” then there’s the mother. I didn’t want that. And I was selfish and I was thinking about Kelly. The best thing we did was to move her out of Gary.

And I’m very defensive about Gary. Again, I fled Gary also, but it wasn’t entirely because of fear, it had nothing to do with anyone’s skin color, or… it was because I wanted a quality education for my child, and it wasn’t going to happen in a school where the teacher had to become the parent.