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Erin's adventures in Community Service

Three months ago, after a great deal of beating around the bush, I pulled my resume together, wrote a mission statement and threw my hat in the ring for the Class of 2012 for an organization called Leadership Pasadena.  While the decision to do so was fueled by encouragement of friends and family, the desire to step out of my comfort zone (being a stay-at-home-mom)was certainly lacking. Boy, has stepping out of that comfort zone been empowering!

Leadership Pasadena was started in the early 1990s by a group of community members who wanted to address the issue of gang violence in Old Town (which was quite different than the Old Town of today). In examining the issue, this group recognized the need to address critical and often controversial issues in the greater community of Pasadena.  I am now one of 14 members of the Class of LP12.  Our collective passion is a desire for facilitating community connections.  My passion is creating an excellent educational experience for my children and for ALL children in my community.

Deciding to put the boys in public school in Pasadena was and is a choice.  A choice that John and I made as adults, parents, friends, and professionals who value equal access to education for all.  In the last two years, we have been challenged in even very casual conversations to defend this decision, because it is not a conventional one in our community.  Today, forty percent (40%!) of school aged children in Pasadena go to non-public schools (private, parochial, charter, homeschool).  Many families never set foot in a public school or even consider doing so because in Pasadena, "the public schools are bad".  A number of real estate agents will encourage their clients to consider buying only in choice neighborhoods because of a particular school.  Other agents have made statements to individuals like myself to "look in South Pasadena or La Canada, where the schools are better" or further "avoid buying a home in Pasadena because the resale value of your home won't hold due to the poor public schools in Pasadena".  Even friends without children looking at property here have had similar experiences.

What does this say about our community?
What does this say about our city?
What does it say about the children who ARE in public schools in Pasadena?
What does it say about community definitions based on race and class?

I'm asking myself and you, readers, all of these questions so that together we can work to change things. I know that PUSD schools can be great.  Public will to allow ALL children in Pasadena access to the vast resources within our community is the only thing keeping them from greatness.

It's tough for middle class families to consider stepping out of their comfort zones and surrounding their children by a diverse set of peers.  As I've personally learned, again & again, no great good comes without risk.


Amy P said…
I am so proud of my little sister. :-)

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