Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lakeside article in Crosscut/Seattle Weekly

Well, as if just to prove that issues of race aren't just public school fodder, here is an article by Knute Berger from the on-line 'zine, Crosscuts, that I missed in April. It, in turn, references an excellent article from the Seattle Weekly written by Nina Shapiro. Both are about Lakeside School and its problems with race (seemingly more with faculty than students).

I don't know how much there is to discuss but it makes for interesting reading. I know that Lakeside recruits heavily for minority students and finds most of them in public schools.

We applied for both our sons to get into Lakeside (yes, even I have considered private school). One got in (but didn't go) and the other didn't. Lakeside is a wonderful school, sort of a mini-Ivy league-looking place, with a rarified air. It has some truly enthusiastic kids (one of the articles makes fun of their overseas trip program but the kids who spoke about it called it life-changing and that their view of the world will never be the same - that's pretty much what you want from travel so good for them). They also have some very smart kids, almost scarily so. Nobody at Lakeside wants to play the fool unlike some kids in public school. That's the thrust of the Crosscut article, that Lakeside kids like to excel, relish the challenge and are urged on by being surrounded by that atmosphere. You can't underestimate the effect of peers on a child's ability or desire to learn.

(Bill Gates went there and the article said it was because his mom thought he would be bullied in public school - he went to Laurelhurst Elementary so I suppose she meant Eckstein. Interestingly, his daughter is not going to Lakeside - at least not for middle school - but I'll bet his son will in coming years and probably has an enrollment form already stamped "approved".)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill Gates went to View Ridge Elementary.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting; I've read in several articles that it was Laurelhurst.

Anonymous said...

I have a bunch of friends who went to Lakeside in the 80's. Many came from affluent families and it was just what was expected.

For one, it was her parents who saw their daughter starting to rebel out of control and knew she had tremendous potential and forced her to interview there - almost as a punishment. She swears it is the best thing that could have happened to her.

For a couple (that are both Doctors now), they say it was wonderful because it was normal there for them to be really smart bookworms - they didn't feel out of place/like geeks.

Anonymous said...

It appears he went to both schools:

"Blanche Hamilton Hutchings Caffiere was a Seattle teacher, librarian, writer, and storyteller. Over the course of her very long life she influenced many people. Among these were her childhood friend, world-famous Northwest writer Betty MacDonald, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who was her student at View Ridge Elementary School."

The origins of these trends had nothing to do with the personal computer and the Internet, for the collapse of connectedness began before Bill Gates left View Ridge Elementary School.

In 4th Grade his family moved to Laurelhurst.

Anonymous said...

The fear of isolation, cited by many parents in choosing their child's school, is a significant driver for minority families. Bill Gates' mom feared her son would get picked on. I fear my daughter would be the brunt of unintended, but no less lethal, racism. And so it goes.

Anonymous said...

And, when we (minority families) avoid environments because of fear of isolation (hardest when it's our children), we make the environment a little bit less diverse by our absence.

The same thing is true for choosing a "highly-capable" program over the more diverse environment. We chose the highly-capable program because it allows the atypical child to be ordinary, but the environment we left is missing part of the distribution, making harder for the next atypical child to join in.

It's toughest thing in the world to balance our choices against the impact they have on the world (and hardest of all when it's our children we're talking about).

n-ssp (not a seattle school parent)

Anonymous said...

We are a minority family, and when I choose schools, I choose based on the academic rigor of that school and fit for my child. I do not look at the color of the students who attend. Fortunately for us, we have not ever experienced racism, and have felt welcomed and included all around, despite living in the north end and attending primarily white schools. My sons have made great friends, and so has our family. I would say this to other families of color, sometimes we make a mountain into a mole hill. Or live our own past. Things ARE different now than when we were kids. Seattle is, for the most part a very welcoming city. Don't turn away from a good program for lack of diversity. You will be making the program more diverse, and diversity attracts diversity.

Anonymous said...

We are a black family that attended a primarily white alternative school. In the 6 years that we were there our son had only one negative experience in regards to race. In the second grade a student called him a n****r. We spoke with the teacher, and the principal immediately, and it was dealt with up front. The family of the boy was appalled that the child had said what he said, apologized profusely, and assured us that he would face consequences at home. We wound up becoming very good friends with that family. Like the earlier poster we felt very welcomed and part of the community, and had no other racial issues whatsoever. Our child thrived at the school, and does not pay attention to the color of peoples skin. That's what we have taught him.

Anonymous said...

When I hear things like "We don't see race", I am saddened because that also implies that we don't see the rich cultural heritage that comes with it as well. I enjoy being a part of the African American community, its rich culture, values, and history. When my children end up in largely white communities, they do miss this! Being a part of the African American community doesn't help them get into college, but it does provide them with a sense of self, history and belonging. And while I do send them to programs that are not diverse, I do grieve the loss of some kinds of community that come with those tough decisions.

Anonymous said...

We see, live and celebrate our african american heritage every day. We provide as many opportunities as possible to immerse our children in cultural events and celebrations. We are lucky enough to have a large extended family and many friends of African American heritage. However, I do not teach my children to see color, as I wouldn't want white families to teach their children to see color. I teach my children to see all people as equals and not to choose how we percieve or stereotype them based on the color of their skin. We want them to treat all people equally and individually. Living in a city with such a small percent (6%) of african americans definately presents it's challenges. Choosing between a high quality, competetive program and a less competetive but more diverse student body is tough, but for us the strongest program always wins. That's just us. I'm not saying it's right, it's just what we are comfortable with. I understand that your child misses out on being part of a rich community. And while I understand the earlier posters comment about fear of their child facing racism, I think it is unfounded. At least from our experiences.