Oh, man, now I know I’ve taken a dive off the wrong end. Rod Dreher is quoting me in support of his own point of view.
Over on the editorialistas' blog at The Dallas Morning News, Dreher's writing about the “Choose Woodrow” editorial in today’s paper, which urges affluent white people to follow the lead of Lakewood and send their kids to public school. This morning I read that editorial with wistful pleasure. We don’t live in Lakewood, and we didn’t send our kid to Woodrow. He sent himself -- insisted -- in spite of our trepidation. A lad with a mind of his own.
I have always greatly admired Lakewood’s fierce devotion to Woodrow. I think there probably is more stubbornness than liberalism in it: By God, nobody’s takin’ our school away from us. But if I had to choose between stubborn protectors of turf and squishy libs like myself to save the Alamo, I guess I’d have to bet on the turf-protectors every time. And then later, after it’s saved, we liberals can take over.
Over on Dallas Morning Views, there already is comment from a reader (good Friend of Fair Park, matter of fact) who recites bad experiences his kid had at Woodrow. Sounds to me like it was less Woodrow, per se, than the incredibly lax culture of slackitude at DISD. But stuff does happen.
There is a bottom line here, however, that gets ignored. It’s what Mary Sue Coleman, the president of my own alma mater, the University of Michigan, has said about the effect of diversity on schools: “We know that diversity makes us a better university -- better for learning, for teaching, and for conducting research.”
Diversity makes white kids smarter. My son is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin now. He and all of his Woodrow alum friends who went to UT agree on one thing: They were way better equipped to deal with the world the way it is than the white kids from suburban and all-white enclave backgrounds.
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The point is, the kid gets out there in the world, and the world ain’t all-white. Other people smell all-white on a kid a mile away, because the kid shows it. I’m not saying those kids can’t get over it. But they can also fail to get over it. There are still too many hiding places for white people who are uncomfortable with diversity. So they stay in those places, and their lives are diminished.
Why would you want your kid to feel that he can only survive in certain protected areas? The Woodrow kids’ lives are enhanced, bigger and more free for having gone to Woodrow.
It’s not the only path. There are terrific private schools in Dallas where the kids enjoy a diversity that is probably more intimate, equal and face-to-face than the self-segregating lunchroom at Woodrow. But Woodrow is one path, and all of the paths toward diversity are paths toward fuller life.
At some point, you have to factor that into the equation along with Latin. Which was sorely missing at Woodrow when we were there. Let me see here now, Latin versus diversity … Latin versus diversity… man! That’s a tough one. Not sure I know the answer to that one. --Jim Schutze