24 September 2009 Jealous of Jealous
Yesterday, Ben Jealous, the President and CEO of the NAACP posted the following in the Racewire blog:
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to share the stage with America’s legendary television dad, Bill Cosby. In a town hall forum titled “About Our Children,” Cosby and I, along with comedian Paul Rodriguez and University of Wisconsin Professor Maria Cancian, discussed poverty, parenting and the American dream in front of a national audience, broadcast live on MSNBC.
I spoke about my childhood education, as a kid growing up in California. I explained that my county had multiple schools. One, across the county, had resources I needed, while the school closer to my home did not. Because of local zoning law I was assigned to the school closer to home. Even as a child, I knew that I needed to be at the better school. I put up such a fight about it that my parents simply found a way to put me on the bus to the other school. They bent the rules so that I could have a better education.
I shared this story because it is an important example of my family taking responsibility for my education. It is a lesson that I will never forget, and it most certainly put me on the path to where I am today.
Oh California. My parents tried for most of my Kindergarden through second grade education in Missouri to get the school district to let me skip a grade. They hoped I might raise less hell if I were more challenged. While it is unclear why exactly I wasn’t allowed to skip a grade, my mother did take the issue all the way to the state capitol in Jefferson City, where she was told something to the effect of: The State of Missouri does not provide public school districts with funding for students that skip grades.
Despite my mother’s protests, Missouri’s rule went unbent; I remained unchallenged (with few exceptions) in Missouri’s K-12 classrooms; and I allegedly remain a hellraiser.