Parents Who Don’t Take “No” For an Answer

November 6, 2023 | By: Sharon Sedlar

Meet Keemah Brewington – a mom of 3 in South Philadelphia fighting for her children in a dangerous and dysfunctional education system.  When I traveled to the Philadelphia area to attend the Policy Committee hearing in September, I loved her from the beginning.  Her opening comments during the GOP-sponsored session were “Let me make this clear at the start.  I am a Democrat.”  Keemah had fearlessly laid down the ground rules right then and there for this conversation: helping children should not be political; she was ready to fight for not only her children, but others as well; do not mess with her parent power and voice.

While Keemah’s daughter receives straight A’s and is a model high school student, her son struggles with ADHD and is a very different kind of student – not a “bad student” by any means, just different.  Keemah states that, due to Philadelphia School Districts’ new “school selection system,” her daughter qualified for CAPA, but her son is left to choose from limited “super schools,” willing to give him a chance.

Keemah has worked hard to instill values and work ethic in her son that help him keep a “positive path” for his future.  She says that “I’m raising a little black boy.  That little black boy has come to a fork in the road…the slightest deviation…could be the demise of his future…it only takes…being around the wrong people to throw away years of hard work.”

After months of searching, anxiety, tears, and scouring resources to find the right people to help, Keemah was able to secure a safe and appropriate environment for her son.  I asked Keemah for an update last month, and I will let her words speak for themselves – 

“Fast forward to the end of October, and Caiyou is definitely in a very different element. Honestly, it is challenging in a way that he must push himself. Every single day he’s held accountable for his actions and lack thereof. With the open communication amongst the teachers and myself, anything that happens I’m notified of right away. For example, I can go on his school leger, have a question about a grade, email, and receive a response the same day! Again, it convinces me even more that ‘school choice’ is the model of the future! Meaning, I had the ability to make the right school “choice” that fit my child’s needs and learning style. School choice pushes everyone to be at their very best. From the school, to the student, and the home-body. Is it an adjustment? Yes. Mainly, because Caiyou has a lot more expectations. However, I truly believe this positive pressure is going to mold a jewel of a pupil, then citizen”.

Keemah and I both wonder – What about all the other children whose parents do not have the time or resource access to find solutions for their child?  Should their children be trapped in a maladaptive education environment simply due to lack of finances or residential assignment based on redlines established in 1934?

Keemah believes that parents need and deserve to be better educated about their options, and points to education choice policies and associated funding as a part of the solution.  Parents are rising up and demanding better for their children – parents like Keemah who will not take “no” for an answer and refuse to allow their children to be political pawns.  All should take notice.

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