To the Editor:
After reading Johnathan Collins’ piece on Lebron James’ new school, I Promise, (“LeBron James Opens a School and Speaks Democracy to Power,” August 2, 2018) I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of both pride and discouragement. I agree with Collins that James has taken a particularly noble action, and we can all be inspired by his decision to open a public school—unlike many of his contemporaries who have decided that charter and private schools are a better solution to problems facing education. James’ commitment to public education, in an area where there is a high population of at-risk kids, should remind everyone to view public education as a necessary public service, not just a chance at a profit.
Nonetheless, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the less glamorous part of the situation: James is doing this because it needs to be done. In many parts of the country, public education is either underfunded or under attack, and most of those places will never have a celebrity swoop in and do what James is doing. We cannot be guilty of sitting back and waiting to be saved by philanthropic athletes and dot-com millionaires. We have to keep focused on the fact that a nationwide school system that takes on every child and provides them with a quality education is one of the strongest pillars upon which our country stands.
Contrary to the clever one-liners on talking-head shows, no entity has come close to what public schools do. Public schools are both a treasure and a service. They are the foundation of a system that created hundreds of millions of productive citizens. Counting on the wealthy superheroes to come in and write a check will only further de-prioritize our nation’s schools and the importance they hold in all our lives.
Waynesboro Elementary School
A version of this article appeared in the August 29, 2018 edition of Education Week as Rich Superheroes Can’t Save All Schools