Jarett Fields ER Room
By Jarett Fields
When Nicole Tate was young, her parents stressed the importance of school, church, and community.
In fact, they believed all three were related.
In elementary school, her parents helped her with homework, attended parent events, and even worked at her school.
On Sundays, they went to church and when there were events in the community, they attended those too.
The influences Nicole grew up with explain many of the choices she’s making for her two sons, eleven-year-old Jeron, and two-year-old Aeron. She wants her sons in schools that have high academic standards and that work with the local community.
For Jeron, who attends Milwaukee College Prep, a high quality charter school, she’s happy.
Since he’s been there, his math and reading scores have improved.
To the point where he’s even helping her with math homework from Bryant & Stratton College, where she’s continuing her own education.
Seeing how well Jeron is doing makes her even more adamant about finding a great school for her youngest son, Aeron.
Right now, he is on the waiting list at St. Marcus Lutheran School.
Nicole chose St. Marcus for their academic reputation, community partnerships, and because she lives in the neighborhood.
In comparison to other schools, Nicole believes St. Marcus is the best choice for Aeron based on her expectations and values.
She’s not alone though. St. Marcus has over six hundred families on the waiting list who all feel their children deserve the type of education that the school delivers.
I asked Nicole how she felt about the fight over the Malcolm X building and she expressed disappointment.
She said the families on St. Marcus’ waiting list were being excluded from the conversation.
But, she believes the battle is the result of a broken education system throughout the city.
Anytime politics becomes more important than children is a sign that we’ve lost our way.
Too often, families like Nicole and her two sons get caught between city and state politics and budget and tax issues that make it difficult to navigate the educational terrain when so much is at stake.
These clashes force parents to choose sides in a battle where good and bad and right and wrong do not accurately describe the issues or the people involved.
And yet, they continue.
Nicole offered her own ideas about how to improve education in Milwaukee.
She knows parent involvement is important but she also believes students need more relevant history courses and that teachers should embrace new teaching techniques.
Nicole sounds a lot like other concerned parents who fight hard to provide their children with opportunities to do their best in life.
School, community, and church, all the things Nicole grew up with, she sees in St. Marcus and she wants that for Aeron.
She has no idea whether or not an expansion into the Malcolm X building would ensure Aeron a spot, but for now, being on the waiting list offers some hope.