Tuesday, April 24, 2018

We can house some homeless students ... why not?

Yesterday afternoon as I got out of my car across from Buena Vista/Horace Mann School, a small, slightly diffident, white woman approached me.

"Do you live at this house?" she asked.

"Yes, I do. Is everything okay?"

"Do you know they are planning to put homeless families in this school?" she continued.

"Why yes -- I think it is a great idea," says I. And with that we were off on a long, utterly civil discussion. Suffice to say, she feels the school is failing her child who has special needs and, she explained, doesn't get the program she needs. She believes the school is failing all its children. She doesn't think it should take on one more thing.

I don't really know whether it's true the school fails many kids. I am confident that the teachers over there are doing their best; few people teach in inner city schools except from devotion to the kids. I also am pretty dubious that any of us have good measures of educational success, since I think testing kids all the time only makes it harder to help them learn.

And I do like the idea of using school facilities to house a few of the many school families who have no stable place to live in our crazy, inflated housing environment. According to the school, there are some 60 such kids among their students. There are thousands of students in unstable living situations in the city. We should use the facilities the city already has to reduce some tiny fraction of this crisis situation -- or so I think. It's fine to demand that it be done thoughtfully and carefully, but we don't want the novelty of the idea to overwhelm its promise.

So it was nice to see that three Buena Vista/Horace Mann School parents have explained why they want this to happen in an oped in the Chronicle. Here's how they explain their support:
Buena Vista school can meet its homeless students’ needs now
 Principal Richard Zapien, walks the floor of the gymnasium, where the shelter would be located at Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 school in San Francisco, Calif
We are two moms and a dad trying to raise kids in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Every day we see the effect this is having on families at all income levels at our children’s school — and how devastating it is to our most low-income families.

Last month, one of us saw a mother scolding her two kids not to run in the playground after school. When we asked why, she shared that she didn’t want them to get dirty because they are living in their car and can’t bathe or easily wash clothes. It was heartbreaking to hear.

One of us knows a mom of three who stayed in an abusive relationship because she felt she had nowhere else to go — she and her kids lived with him. At one point, her third-grader started to kick the walls of his classroom. It pains us to think of the trauma that this child was going through. ...
Go read what these parents have to say.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

It's a tough one as the cost of housing is pricing some out of rent or buying. Still, this mom is also right-- the school's first job is teaching the kids. Otherwise, they are just warehouses...

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