Strong public schools lead to strong communities. When the strength of the public schools is called into question through misinformation, everyone hurts. Local government, businesses, and families must scramble to face the effects of this new perception. Most importantly, the students are hurt. As Harvard professor of Public Policy Robert Putnam noted in his bestseller Bowling Alone, “trust, networks, and norms of reciprocity within a child’s family, school, peer group, and larger community have wide-ranging effects on the child’s opportunities and choices.” We are at a crossroads in the communities of South Euclid & Lyndhurst, Ohio: our public schools no longer represent the community they serve. Through gossip and hearsay, many of our middle-class families no longer trust the public education system as a viable option for their children. It’s time to change that.
The SEL Experience Project believes in a better South Euclid-Lyndhurst City School District. Formed in the spring of 2015 by a concerned parent and a recent graduate, this grassroots organization aims to share the real stories of our public schools. We have both experienced firsthand the incredible opportunities available in the public schools and are passionate about sharing the real SEL. It’s time we, as a community, take responsibility for the state of our public education option. It’s time we recognize that childhood development and learning is influenced not only by family and school, but by community as well. When we divest from public education, we relay the message that these students don’t matter. Every student matters.