It Took a Village

By Anthony Rebora — April 14, 2008 1 min read
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An article on the seemingly forgotten reciprocal relationship beween the public and public schools prompts Renee Moore to reflect on a time when the phrase “it takes a whole village to raise a child” was more than just a political punchline. During her youth, she writes:

The entire community took the raising and teaching of children as a collective responsibility. I could as much expect Mr. Alexander across the street to quiz me on my times tables as I could my teacher. Mrs. Duncan at the corner store was well within her rights to chastise me for acting "unladylike" in public, and would make sure my mother heard of it before I made it home. I, and thousands of other children in our communities, first learned the art of public speaking not at school, but in church.
It was the neighborhood little league team (before the ascendancy of Hummer-driving "soccer moms" and overly-aggressive fans and Dads) where we learned what it meant to work together, never quit, be gracious in loss, and thankful in victory. The local public librarian knew all of us and our favorite books. In its better days, my hometown Detroit Public Schools made sure every pupil attended at least one concert of the Detroit Symphony and visited at least one of the local museums each school year. The deterioration and fragmenting of neighborhoods, along with the dispersion of families (among many other factors) has resulted in the weakening or loss of these community interactions which so richly supplemented children's formal education.

We usually try not to quote at such length, but that passage seemed just too significant—and in a way too touching—to break up. And there’s more where that came from.

Hat tip: John Norton (via e-mail).

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.