Thursday, August 11, 2011

How I got my motivation for my next Enclave donation

You may remember my post the day before yesterday on a Facebook group called "Nashville Urban School Coalition" and their flirtation with the idea of a charter school for North Nashville to compete for resources with existing schools. That post seems to have kicked up some dust and too much stabby speculation on the NUSC page:

Brian L. Heuser .... Some local bloggers care much more about how many hits they receive on their sites than they do about strategizing workable solutions to the challenges that active citizens/parents face. Instead of philosophizing about and judging the motives behind why residents of the urban core are seeking improvements, said local bloggers could serve a real function in disseminating understanding about the nature of the challenges and suggest potential policy solutions. These ridiculous blogs (and those who write them) are a pathetic excuse for civic engagement.

Well, let me say initially that if my main goal is hits on my website, I'm an abject failure. First of all, I chose a hyper-local venue, which guarantees I will receive fewer hits than other pages. Second, all you have to do is compare my stats to the those of websites that have also been live for 7 years and you'll likely find that their hits blow mine out of the water.

Likewise with ad revenues. I've earned practically nothing blogging and the revenue checks I have received from Google ads have been donated to non-profits in my community like The Nashville Jazz Workshop, Fisk University, Second Harvest, North Nashville Flood Relief Group, the Nashville Neighborhoods Resource Center, and Friends of Nashville Farmer's Market. In the grand scheme of things, that wasn't a huge net for those organizations, but I have given back benefits to the local community that came to me because I wrote about that community.

But my purpose in blogging has never been maximizing traffic or revenues. Since day 1 my mission has been to blog as an advocate and a watchdog for my community. So, I feel no sense of inadequacy on the question of whether I've served my community. If anyone wants a full story on me in North Nashville, a sizable summary of that story is contained here in 6,500-some-odd posts for those who choose to read it.

In keeping with that sense of service, I am motivated to donate my latest revenue check (around $100) to Buena Vista Enhanced Option Elementary School, which the gentrifying parents here derided (sometimes unfairly so) in the Tennessean story that first publicized them. The North Nashville magnets were secondarily criticized as being an inadequate solution in these parents' minds to Buena Vista. We've already made donations to our daughter's magnet, and she is there because we participated in civic efforts with the Jones community to save the school several years ago, back when Salemtown kids were bused to the zoned school in West Nashville and we were interested only in neighborhood schools.

However, I also recognize that as goes Buena Vista, so goes the quality of life in North Nashville. So, rather than cursing the darkness and supporting a new magnet or charter (as have been proposed), I'll light one candle for Buena Vista to express support for them. After the Tennessean story one of their teachers attended our last Salemtown meeting to address any concerns or misconceptions falling out from the journalism. I admired that and I told her that it was exactly how we got involved in the Jones Paideia community years ago. It will make a difference if community and school stay mutually involved. I have yet to see anything on Facebook that promotes that involvement.

I regret that some parents feel like they got screwed after moving into Germantown and Hope Gardens as a backdoor into West Nashville's Eakin and the Hillsboro cluster. We didn't move to Salemtown with the same intentions because we knew moving here wasn't a short cut to a high demand school. We were of the mind that when our infant grew to elementary age we would have to scratch and claw so that she could succeed. And we have committed ourselves to being involved parents in day-to-day education, which is exactly what makes for high performance in the elementary years.

If a new school is built it will be high-demand and/or grasping-at-straws and it will end up competing for limited resources with our established public schools. As a public school parent, I view a new charter as a threat to my child's education. The parental instinct kicks in. It's nothing personal.

Now I'm not asking people to like my civic engagement.  We all have our own way of doing it. But to say that my blog is not about civic engagement is wrong. This blog is not a bulletin board or a newsletter. It is a forum. I engage my community by blogging and with few exceptions I permit responses good, bad, or indifferent.

And it is not an either-or. I both blog and attend many community events and meetings, and I engage people face-to-face. But Rosa Parks Boulevard runs both ways, and I've not seen any of the more apoplectic members of this Facebook group present at meetings on this side of the North End. They insist they care about educating everyone, even those who live north of Monroe Street (the former boundary of the Eakin zone). So, why do I never see them out and about up here, civically engaging across our community?


  1. Keep using your voice and writing your blog...I may not always agree with you but your entries make me think and I like that. Thank you!

  2. Mike,

    Yu need to have more sympathy. It must be incredibly heartbreaking to know your family is too good for public schools but your too broke for private school. Oh the humanity!

  3. Tene Hamilton FranklinFri Aug 12, 10:58:00 AM CDT

    Now that I know where the money is going, I am going to start clicking on the Google ads.

  4. Anonymous commenter #2:

    One of my kids goes to a Metro public school. The other one goes to a state university. You don't know what you're talking about.

  5. I think anon#2 is sarcastically referring to sympathy for the FB group members who want a new school.

  6. Steeplechase pic says it all, dog.

  7. Just to clarify, it's not that we can't afford private school, or that we never considered it as an option. We spent a great deal of time considering all of our options and, we chose not to go the private school route. Despite the fact that nearly 90% of my friends have their kids in private school. It just wasn't for us. The main reason we chose public school is because we wanted our daughter to be well rounded. We wanted her to be up close & personal w/peers of a diverse socioeconomic back-ground so that she has a better understanding of what 'the real world' is all about. She will accept people for who they are & not what they have. Treating people as they should be treated will be a way of life for her, rather than an act of charity or a fad.

    On our block, on our side of the street alone, we have a population of 25% public educators whom have taught in various settings, not just public. 100% of them told us what we already knew/considered: the majority of your child's early education success depends on what you do at home.

    There is a saying we have in my profession: All surgeons need good anesthetists to operate. Bad surgeons however, demand them & are unable to operate w/out them. If you are going to be a hands off parent who expects the school system to do 100% of the work of educating your child then, I hope you find the top school out there w/100% success rates & all of the resources money can buy, because you are absolutely going to need it. But, if you realize that it's a two way street & participate & put in the time w/your child at home, then your child is going to do just as well having gone to one of these 'subpar' North End public schools as he or she would from one of the name-brand West End ones.