After last night's Twitter discussion with some of my favorite folks, including Nancy Flanagan and David Cohen, I posted this comment in response to Nancy's post, "Equal Access: Rosa Parks, Lite" on her Teacher in a Strange Land blog at Edweek.
Good post Nancy.
Valerie Strauss (my favorite ed columnist) was wrong to make the comparison between Williams-Bolar and Rosa Parks. It sounded patronizing and wasn't helpful. Who among us could live up to that standard?
Of course, when white, advantaged parents seek out the "best school" for their kids (often as far away from impoverished and isolated communities as possible) they are within the law. Why? The law, as it was 55 years ago when Mrs. Parks took her famous bus ride, reinforces, (now de facto), segregation, or as Jon Kozol calls it, apartheid schooling.
People will resist our current segregated and increasingly 2-tier system of schooling in whichever ways are available to them. Even the most liberal among us are often protective of the privileges we expect for our own children--privileges that occur only because we may be white or can afford a house in an affluent neighborhood. Of course we tsk, tsk at the thought of Williams-Bolar being jailed but then somehow feel the need to compare her negatively to Mrs. Parks for lying on a form in order to put her child with ours.
I like the way you put it: "There has to be something for everyone in building a truly equitable system, or it will never be built. When open access to quality education requires fraud, we're all in trouble."
Of course there's fraud and fraud, just like there's theft and theft. An impoverished mom stealing baby food for her hungry child is not a thief in the same sense as a Bernie Madoff. And we would see no need to make the comparison between her and Rosa Parks.
As John Dewey wrote: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children.”
Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet column, "Not a Rosa Parks Moment" in the Washington Post can be found here. In fairness, I think that Valerie's commentary was aimed mainly at conservative "choice" advocates rather than at Mrs. Williams-Bolar. They were the ones who cynically raised the Rosa Parks banner, as if...
Also worth reading is a commentary by Dewayne Wickham in the Ohio NewsLeader, "Failed educational system forced Ohio mom to act desperately."