Black Voices, Black Choices: “Chicago is Making it Hard to Stay with Public School”

Shawna Paterson

For many Black families, navigating the public education system can be overwhelming; often the little information that is available is either out of date or irrelevant. However, this doesn’t stop parents like the mom we will meet today. In spite of these challenges, she has a clear perspective on what it takes to educate Black children. 

Meet Shawna Paterson:

What is your dream for your children’s education?

I really had no dream for my kids’ education.  I  assumed my kids would receive material appropriate for their age level.  I really don’t have a clue as to what children should be learning at each age.  Becoming a parent has forced me to research more, but even as I acquire more information I feel more and more ignorant of the education process.

Where do you send your child to school and how did you make that choice?

Our girls attend Robert A Black Magnet Elementary School. We decided on schools first based on location, then their rating on the CPS website, as well as hearsay.  Black got high marks and had an excellent reputation even among principals of other schools.  Sadly all that information was for how the school used to be.

How does your own education experience and background impact the decision you make for your children?

My husband and I were both raised in public school, him in New York and me in Pennsylvania.  We always believed our kids would go the same route.  Chicago is making it hard to stay with public school.

What is the name of your favorite teacher and why are was s/he your favorite?

Ms. Nucci was my favorite teacher because she helped me get through a difficult trial in 9th grade.  God bless her!!!

What is one thing you wish decision makers understood about educating your child and other Black children?

What decision makers need to understand is most of the children today come from homes that do not put much effort into home training for a number of different reasons (which we need not dive into right now).  With that said they do not need new rules or procedures,  they need to have teachers and administrators that are authoritative and willing to enforce the rules.  Those in authority should know they have the full support of the school system when handling discipline.  Parents are not always right and children seldom are.

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