The harsh realities of the city significantly affect urban parents and their children in many ways. Particularly, urban parents must live with the devastating results or glorious outcomes of the education choices they make for their children. The children can be the privileged benefactors of wise education decisions, or they can struggle throughout their life because of errors in judgment by their parents. This dissertation explores the dilemmas of urban parents who face a myriad of tough choices regarding their children’s education.
In the past, urban pioneers promoted a commitment to educating their children in the local public school. A theology was developed to support this choice. Today the landscape has changed, and today’s urban parents are approaching their children’s education differently. Some parents feel guilty for abandoning the local public school system and having to consciously ignore the theology that supports this choice. Other urban parents have chosen different options and face the challenges and consequences with little or no help from those who have journeyed before them. There is little in the way of guidance or new theological application to help today’s urban parent navigate the complex range of education choices. This project focuses on the following four educational options: public school, private school, charter school, and home school.
The project studies the educational choices urban parents make, taking into account available options, political climate, and the parent’s theology and socio-economic background. It also presents the core education options – charter, public, private, and home school – in light of factors such as safety, racial implications, and school system dynamics. The data was gathered through interviews in addition to other
research. The urban parents interviewed were chosen based on their choice to educate their children in either charter, public or private schools. The project explores why and how urban parents made certain school choices, and chronicled the outcomes to date of these choices in the lives of the parents and their children.
This dissertation is written with the hopes of providing a resource to people who have a sense of commitment to live in the city. Several years ago a colleague candidly remarked, ‘I have read all the books that say we should live and serve among the poor. I understand why, but now that I am here I don’t know how to do it. What about friends for my girls? What about school?’ Once people make a commitment move into the city, how to actually face all the realities of the city comes into question. This project is an attempt to honestly, without passing judgment or prescribing simple answers, identify insight into how to educate one’s children in the city.