By Shirley Ford
I realized there was a problem as early as elementary school. I always knew that my boys were smart – they started reading me the newspaper in the evening when they were 6 years old – but they were clearly bored and not being challenged in school. Like so many young African-American boys, they were quickly labeled with alleged “learning disabilities” when they starting committing normal, minor infractions in class. At a young age, they started to become disengaged and apathetic about school.
I quickly started to become desperate. I knew that my sons needed a great education if they were going to be successful, and I realized it was my job to make that happen – nobody else was going to do it for me.
So over the next few years, I tried everything I could to get them into a better public school. When that didn’t work, I applied for financial aid at a local private school, but was denied.
As my sons started to make their way through middle school, falling further and further behind, I began to feel angry and hopeless. I began to blame myself – was I a bad mother? In my worst moments, I began to blame them. As high school began to approach, I was terrified of what would come next for them.
One day, I came home to find a flyer on my door that said something about a new “charter school” opening in our community. I had no idea what a charter school was, but I was out of good options, so I decided to go check out their upcoming meeting.