The Integrated Schools Podcast

Ep 1 - Intro to The Integrated Schools Podcast

Episode Summary

Welcome to the Integrated Schools Podcast - Conversations about race, privilege, education, parenting and schools. This introduction gives an overview of Integrated Schools and what you can expect from this podcast.

Episode Notes

Welcome to the Integrated Schools Podcast - Conversations about race, privilege, education, parenting and schools. This introduction gives an overview of Integrated Schools and what you can expect from this podcast.

Courtney from LA, Anna from LA, and Sarah from Houston talk about their experiences choosing integrated schools, why IntegratedSchools.org exists, and the importance of showing up in integrating spaces with humility, and awareness.

Let us know what you think of this episode, suggest future topics, or share your story with us - @integratedschls on twitter, IntegratedSchools on Facebook, or email us hello@integratedschools.org.

The Integrated Schools Podcast is produced by Courtney Mykytyn and Andrew Lefkowits. Audio editing and mixing by Andrew Lefkowits. Music by Kevin Casey.

Episode Transcription

Andrew Lefkowits: Welcome to the Integrated Schools podcast. I'm Andrew, a White dad from Denver.

Courtney Mykytyn: And I'm Courtney, a White mom from Los Angeles.

Andrew Lefkowits: And we are gonna be your hosts for the Integrated Schools. Podcast: conversations about race privilege...

Courtney Mykytyn: Integration, parenting, school choices. You know, all that.

Andrew Lefkowits: Yeah. We're super excited about this project. We got a bunch of great episodes, and we can't wait to share ‘em with you. But to be honest, we are also a bit nervous. Pretty intense topics and discussions that aren't always easy. But we know we need to have ‘em. We know we need to share ‘em. So, Courtney, why are we doing a podcast?

Courtney Mykytyn: I don't really know. No, I think, you know, look, in doing the work around school integration, the ways that White families show up to integrating spaces, into schools, and choice and thinking about this is kind of the same everywhere. So I guess my hope with this podcast is that it's a place where we can have the conversations in a bigger way. Right? So to give people who are thinking about this a way to engage with the topics and hear how other people have wrestled with them. 

 

But, yeah, I'm super nervous. They're all, there's so many different places to step wrong here, you know? And I just feel it’s incredibly vulnerable, and I'm not going to get everything right. I don't know. 

 

Why do you care about this, Andrew?

Andrew Lefkowits: So I grew up in a pretty diverse neighborhood in Denver and I went to what, I guess we would now call an integrating school. It was probably at the time, 90 to 95% students of color, pretty high concentration of students living in poverty. And, to this day, that experience was sort of, I look on it as one of the most formative of my life. It certainly wasn't always easy. But I'm really grateful for everything that I learned there about being a human being, I guess. Um. So I always wanted a similar experience for my kids. I have a second grader and a four year old, and, we moved back to Denver a couple of years ago, and our kids are now in the - actually the same school that I went to which, in a sign of how little progress we've made as a society on integration, looks very similar to the way it looked when I went there. 

 

But, you know, even with sort of my personal experience with it and the value that I placed on that it was really hard to push back against this sort of common narrative around how people with privilege, who get to make choices about school, how they should go about making those choices. 

 

We bought a house in a school boundary. It's not the boundary for the school that my kids go to now, the school that I went to. It's in the boundary where we're sort of guaranteed a seat at a very highly sought after school. It's got high ratings, It's got good test scores. There's very little poverty, and the student population really looks nothing like the rest of the city. And we paid a pretty high premium on our house to be able to live in that boundary. 

 

You know, I think that that school is really a symptom of a system that is pretty similar everywhere you go in the country, that allows White people to hoard limited resources. That concentrates wealth and by doing that allows concentrations of poverty to exist in other schools in ways that we know make it much harder to equitably serve all of our kids. 

 

It contributes to race-based ideas about who can and can't learn or who does or doesn't value education. And I think it contributes to a system that really denies an equal education to many of our most marginalized communities. I mean, I think, in many ways, it's a symptom of a system that is sort of fundamentally at odds with our democracy. And let me be clear, this is not the fault of the people at that school, or the leadership at that school; that school is just a symptom of a broader system that allows this. And yet, even believing all those things⏤and I probably believe them more strongly now than I did a year ago⏤but we sent our oldest to that school for first grade. The way that choice system works here, she either had to go there or basically lose her seat at that school and we decided to send her. We felt like we couldn't risk it, whatever that means.

Courtney Mykytyn: Right, risk. Oh, the risk!

Andrew Lefkowitz: Anyway so after last year, she was there, it was fine. You know, it's a school. There were issues. It wasn't amazing. It wasn't terrible, but we did some real soul searching. We learned a bit more. We probably grew a bit more as people and, we decided for second grade to send her back to the school I went to. And her younger sister is there too, and she's there now, and people think we are nuts to have given up our seat at the “good” school. 

 

People think we're crazy, but we felt like we had to make a choice that reflects our values. But, you know, but also that honestly we believe is the best choice for her, and at the same time doesn't sort of continue perpetuating this system of inequality. 

 

And so, you know, I came across Integrated Schools sort of delving into these thoughts and thinking about what to do with our kids. And I saw all the great work that you guys have been doing Courtney for many years now. And I just felt like whatever way I could get involved, I wanted to, because I think that we're not gonna fix the problem until the people with power change the narrative, and change the way we talk about schools, about good schools and bad schools, about how you should go about making choices for schools. 

 

And so I guess my hope for this podcast is that it can be a small step towards re-writing that narrative. To give people a different way to think about schools, to think about parenting, to think about these choices. 

 

You know, I look at the state of racial tension in our country, and we know it didn't develop overnight. We know we're not gonna fix it overnight. But it seems to me like it's the morally responsible thing to do is to stop contributing to it whenever you can, and then to do whatever we can in some small way to start chipping away at the problem. And so, I guess, if this podcast can play some role in changing that narrative, then I think it's worth doing. And I think it's worth putting ourselves out there in a sort of vulnerable way and having these hard conversations.

Courtney Mykytyn: That's nice. That's a good way of saying it.

Andrew Lefkowits: Thanks. What about you? Why does Integrated Schools exist? Why did you start it? Why do you care?

Courtney Mykytyn: I mean, so we moved into a neighborhood that is now over the past, I don't know, 10 years become incredibly gentrified. And when my kids, who are now in middle and high school, when they were little none of the White and/or privileged parents I knew, were even considering any of the local schools, like not even stepping foot in them to then say “no.” Like it just wasn't even on the list of consideration. 

 

So, you know, long story, super short. We sent our kids to a local school and did a lot of things wrong. Right? I didn't know what I didn't know. And yet, there are things that you should know when you show up in an integrating school. 

 

So, if I were doing this all over again, there's just so much that I would have done really differently. So the hope with this organization is to talk with and as parents who are making these choices, right? Like, why we should send our kids to integrating schools and how we can better show up, and not, you know, take over… all that, right? 

 

I don't know. I have to say, Andrew, that I am weirdly optimistic about this, you know?

 

Andrew Lefkowits: That’s good!

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, I mean, maybe it's maybe it's just kind of the fuel I need to keep going when it feels really, really hard. But the conversations that we’re having as a nation now are so different than the conversations we were having when my kids were preschoolers. And, like for sure.

 

And when Integrated Schools started in, what, 2015, the conversations we were having then are different than the ones we're having now. So I feel like, like we have this moment in time to actually dig in in a really meaningful way. So I'm excited, terrified, totally terrified, but I'm excited.

Andrew Lefkowits: Yeah! Should we get into the first episode. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Let’s do it. 

 

Andrew Lefkowits: Alright, so what do we have for people today?

Courtney Mykytyn: So this first episode is the introduction to the podcast. It's a conversation I had with Anna and Sarah, two moms who’ve kind of been there since the earlier days of Integrated Schools, and it's actually a conversation that we've had a billion times, the three of us in various ways. But, um, I think that you'll hear in their stories, that's, you know, a bit of the journey that they've been on and the kinds of things that they've been thinking about as they enrolled their kids in integrating schools. Yeah, I think it's good. I think it's kind of all over the place. But I also think that that's what this issue is - sort of messy and everything needs to be said all at once, right?

Andrew Lefkowits: And over and over again, right? I mean, I feel like you have to have these conversations and you have to have them many times because it's a long journey. And so, I mean, I think this conversation that everyone's about to hear is a really great conversation. I think it sets the stage for what Integrated Schools is hoping to achieve, and why it exists. And, you know, I'm excited for people to hear it. I think people will also hear that we are not a fancy podcasting company. We've got speaker phones, we've got crappy connections, text messages bursting in mid sentence...

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, and and you know, we're just parents with zero podcasting skills talking with other parents who aren't used to doing this kind of stuff.

Andrew Lefkowits: Yes. Hopefully the content can make up for some of the lack in production values, but we hope you will let us know what you think. We're on Twitter @integratedschls and Facebook as well. You can email us. hello@integratedschools.org. We'd love to hear from you. If you like the episode. Share it. Leave us a review. Subscribe. We've got some really great conversations that we've already recorded that are gonna be coming down the pike pretty soon and more conversations to have.

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, and I'll just say, also, if you have a topic that you'd like us to address, let us know. And if you have a story that you'd like to share, please let us know.

Andrew Lefkowits: Definitely. And now on with the show.
 

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Courtney Mykytyn: I'm Courtney, my kids are 15 and 13, and they attend a big public school in Los Angeles where they are the only, or one of a tiny handful of White kids in the school. 

 

Anna Lodder: Hi, I'm Anna. I have a six and 1/2 year old daughter and an almost three year old son. My son is still in preschool, and my daughter is in first grade at a public school in our area. And she is also one of a very, very small handful of White students. 

 

Sarah Becker: I'm Sarah. I have a seven year old and a five year old. This is their second year at a school where they are also among a handful of White kids in a predominantly Latinx school. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Sarah, don't you also have another kid? 

 

Sarah Becker: I do. I also have another kid. I never know how to talk about her because she's not in school but, yes, three year old who’s in preschool. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Okay, but there's also more to your story, which is that you moved schools. 

 

Sarah Becker: Yes, we did move. My eldest, and for a year, my middle were at a highly sought after magnet school in HIC that we left after lots of soul searching, for lots of reasons, but at the top of the list was definitely prioritizing integration. Understanding it was a journey for us; understanding how we were contributing to the problem as White parents in a, you know, large urban public school system, and how are we participating and contributing to that problem ourselves? 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: So you know, we'd like to introduce the Integrated Schools podcast and, I think, you know, it's kind of important to talk about what Integrated Schools does and why we exist at all. I don’t know, the national landscape of how White people talk about schools is pretty similar across the country, even though our districts look really different, whether they're magnets or charters or whatever. But how White people interact with this stuff is really the same, but I guess I wanna sort of punt to the two of you: Why do you think Integrated Schools needs to exist? 

 

Anna Lodder: I'd like to jump in and say, you know, when I first got involved with Integrated Schools I was, I mean, I was so desperate to find someone to tell me that I wasn't actually crazy or going to harm my children by just showing up at a school that all of my neighbors told me was unacceptable for their children, but couldn't tell me why. And, many of them hadn't actually been to it or seen it or knew anyone that actually went there. And I felt like I was having like, an Alice in Wonderland moment where I was like, I don't know, fantasy from reality like... 

 

Sarah Becker: Well, I mean, I think basically in a lot of ways, at least for me putting, choosing to put my child into a school like Anna said that everybody would tell you not to, or not even that, just like, not even know that it exists because it's not on any White people's radar anywhere. You know, I had to unlearn a lot of what I feel like modern parenting has taught me. A lot of what our culture teaches you about parenting and that a lot of times it's swimming upstream. 

 

I mean, on the one hand, it seems really simple, and some days it is really simple, but lots of days, it's hard and lots of days it makes for awkward conversations on the playground, um, or at the birthday party or wherever. 

 

And, also, we have a lot of racism and classism to work through as a group if we're going to show up with respect and humility in these schools. You know, I know I did. And so, yeah, like... 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: I still do. 

 

Sarah Becker: You know, Courtney, you know, you give me the words like White people have made a mess of our schools and segregation, and we all know that segregation is a huge problem. And I think Integrated Schools is absolutely an attempt at us taking responsibility for that and kind of starting with our own houses and our own kids first. And it's hard work. It is hard work. 

 

Anna Lodder: Yes, Sarah put it really eloquently. I think the complicated nature of White people working out their own bias, racism, institutionalized (years of) classism and racism is something that is… it really does need to be addressed, y’know. So in many ways, Integrated Schools champions the idea of just showing up, but I think we also know that, like just showing up, it can do a lot of harm. So, this space is created as a way to address those issues and figure out how to show up smart; and how to show up humble; and how to show up as a listener; and how to show up as an ally, versus how to show up as a colonizer. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: We've raised now a couple of generations of people who think it's their job to get every last fancy thing that they can for their kid. 

When you grow up having that as part of the air that we're breathing, I think that's contributed to the problem. We've not talked about integration. We've certainly not talked about race and inequities, and we've shaped the whole conversation in “what can you get?” And you know, and we wonder why we are where we are. 

 

Sarah Becker: But we haven't, at least it’s very rare that anyone will come out and speak publicly about the value of it. I mean, our leaders aren't doing it. We aren't doing it because it's not something communally that we hold as a value. Period. End of story. Like, and so, until it is something that’s valued, it goes unaddressed and the system keeps on. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: And I think you know White people have opted out of integration at every step. 

 

Sarah Becker: Exactly.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: In every possible way.  We have, you know, gone to gluten free charter schools. We have gone to private schools. We have, you know, un- and homeschooled our kids. We have moved to the suburbs or White concentrated places. We game the system so that we get into the White and privileged, segregated schools. We have undermined policy at every turn. 

We have seceded districts from larger districts so that we could have a Whiter district. We have brought lawsuits to challenge Brown v. Board in lots of places, I mean, in every way. And, you know, and we're not even talking about the busing protests, right? Like, in every way, we've undermined the efforts of school integration⏤halfhearted as they might have been⏤we've undermined it all. And then, you know, that's also not acknowledging, too, who our policy makers are, are largely White parents. And so we are the “they” that aren't doing brave policy. 

 

Anna Lodder: And, I think we've done all of that and then subsequently created narratives around justifying why it was necessary and not about race. I think there's a layer over this just to be able to separate, the intent from the impact or the impact from the intent, by the misappropriation of, like, evidence-based research, right? Where we're talking about, like “unschooling” or the “student of the 21st century”. And, oh, like we don't want... robot kid. I know I'm going off on a tangent, stay with me here. But, like all the things I hear about when parents are talking about why the curriculum, or the behavior charts, or the systems in place aren't adequate at public schools ⏤ like there's all sorts of different language used to describe why the system isn't good enough ⏤ and all of these fear based things, you hear about the dangers of public school, or the dangers of global majority schools, or low income schools, or whatever, we're able to divorce ourselves from the acknowledgment that it’s race-based in order to continue to justify as like a someone who is now, you know, living in 2018 following the Black Lives Matter Instagram account. 

 

So the social politics of the day can still separate themselves by saying like, “Oh, you know, the system isn't set up for any kids, so I'm not gonna invest in it at all.” 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Right.

 

Sarah Becker: We have a whole I mean, and that's also partly why when you do start engaging parents about it...

 

Courtney Mykytyn: White parents.

 

Sarah Becker: Right, White parents. You have to be really careful, I mean, they don't think they're talking about race! And so, trying to tell people “no, you actually are”, when you don't think you are, and you know all the layers of that. It's just, it's lots of white fragility to work through. And so, they're tricky conversations. 

 

If your goal is for people to actually hear you!

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Right! Yeah, it’s not too tricky if you just want to yell for a while.

 

Sarah Becker: Right! I mean if it’s just scorched earth then that's plenty easy. But if you're actually trying to get people to hear you, White people to hear you, there's a lot of layers to work. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Okay, so I keep wanting to back up, and I feel like that's part of the problem with talking about school integration in the way that we are is, everything sort of has to come first and I never… It's like, where do you begin cause they all are related to so many other things. 

 

Anna Lodder: Okay, so I think the first is, like, let's reevaluate our roles and responsibilities as parents of children with privilege in whatever way that presents itself. And talk about what it means to, like, throw your access to power and trust and support to a highly segregated school. But I also think it's like the work of Integrated Schools is also so much about not just showing up, but like showing up in a way that aggressively pushes back against a white supremacy framework and culture that are inherent within schools in general, but especially inherent within highly segregated schools, who have been doing⏤most of them have been doing the excellent work of educating students without White people around for decades. 

 

And showing up as listeners, as learners, and as allies, and not as colonizers. Right? So like that is a huge education piece for parents, that's a piece that I am still learning as I go, is how to be a better listener, how to be a better advocate. We're trying to raise a generation of kids to think differently than the way we were raised to think.

 

Sarah Becker: Right!

 

Anna Lodder: And this is one absolutely tangible way that's important to me,  that my daughter understands her equalness and her humanity to others who may be very different from her.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Right. I mean, I think that one of the interesting things about what we're doing is we're really not talking about bringing, you know, five Black kids into our school and being nice about it, right? Or you know... the goal of integration is really about White parents making the choice to enroll in global majority schools. 

 

Sarah Becker: So, that's it! I mean, I think that's it. We have to redefine it,  integration can't be on the backs of Black and brown people like it was in the seventies and eighties. And when you hear the stories from that time, it’s no wonder that sometimes when you start engaging on integration with people of color, adults of color, they look at you like you're crazy. It wasn't a pleasant experience. So, I do think we have to be really careful when we say the word “integration” to define what that means. And I think, Courtney, I mean, I'll never forget the first time reading Integrated Schools’ website, you put it very straightforwardly, and it has stuck with me: White people made a mess of this and it’s our responsibility to clean it up. So, yeah, White parents, here's the piece that you can control, right? It's really hard, right? I mean, and I have done some of this, right. It's really hard to get the policy changes. And Courtney, you've always been clear about this with me. 

 

Like, maybe that stuff will happen eventually. But we have a lot more control as parents on an individual level, with what we do with our kids. And in a lot of ways, that is, there's a lot of power that we don't own a lot of the time. Or that we just ignore and think about what's best for our kids. If you really ponder that question of: “Okay, as a people White people have made, have created this problem, how do we fix it?” Then the logical answer is, you know, putting your kid in a global majority school, as you said.

 

Courtney Mykytyn:  And that's, you know, and that's maybe not going to fix it right? But it is going to stop contributing. 

 

Sarah Becker: It's a start. 

 

Anna Lodder: For so long in our country it has been the job of global majority parents, of immigrant parents, of low income parents to fight the fight for equity in education. Whereas White parents and middle class parents have always had a way to sidestep. That...and not had to do the work. And so this is a space where we can encourage parents to do the work and to do it right.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Or, at least better.

 

Anna Lodder: Or, at least better. Yeah, absolutely! You're absolutely right. 

I'm also uncovering, every day, uncovering thoughts and ideas and actions that do not align with my values, that I have been raised with, that have come from generations of institutionalized racism and classism that I have to untangle. And I'm not willing to not be in this space because I want to be a learner and I want to be an ally. I want to give democracy its chance, and I think that's what we're trying to do with the promise of public schools, is give actual equal opportunity a chance. And I think it's not complicated, but it's very, very hard. 

 

Sarah Becker: There you go! 

 

Anna Lodder: And I think without the mutual understanding and sort of shoulder to shoulder-ness that we get to have through Integrated Schools digitally, through community meetings, through the blog, through the Facebook group is to, because for me in my neighborhood, these ideas, it can be a very lonely space. 

 

Sarah Becker: Yup!

 

Anna Lodder: And here's the other thing I'll say, the people in my neighborhood who I'm used to socializing with. The biggest thing that my eyes were open to when we made the decision to attend our school and integrate into the school in our community, was that there was a whole population of people that I never interacted with at the park, you know, at the grocery store and those were my own horrible demons to uncover and discover. 

 

But our community and our school is very rich with culture, ideas, passion, dedication, you know, to parenthood, to education. They were there! They've always been there. 

 

But like the experience has been, you know, an absolute wealth of experience and relationship building. But it goes so much against the like, horrible years of classism that came before me, that was like, oh, I have to find other...like you were saying the culture of the playground is like find the other White middle class parents and figure out where their kids are going and, you know that coded language, that doesn't lead to good citizenship, actually.

 

Sarah Becker: I mean, it's really personal for me. I mean, it took us a year to decide to move the kids. I mean, some of that was understanding how the money flowed in our district and how, you know, kids sitting in a magnet school were getting all this extra money, you know? Then White and affluent families will always figure out how to do it, right? Whether it's moving into the zone. But, you know, testing into a school and studying to pass the test like, White and affluent families always find a way. So then those families get concentrated, and then you get PTO’s that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars while meanwhile, most schools in Houston don't even have a PTO. 

So I think once we kind of started, my husband and I, to peel back the veil and see how the system was actually working, I mean, we were losing sleep about how our kids who have two parents with advanced master's degrees who, if you really believe all the research that's out there, are going to be fine based on their race and their class⏤no matter where we put them⏤then how can we suck resources out of the system for kids that don't need it? And also how can we be credible advocates in the public sphere, which is kind of what we've become over the past couple of years in Houston, when we're doing this? You can't! I mean you can, but it's really easy for somebody to come along and say, “Well, of course you know, look at them, they've got their kids at one of the fancy magnet schools.” And, so we did move them. And I can tell you very plainly both, there's nothing to be afraid of, and it was a great experience that I don't regret. But also there are differences in the schools, for sure. 

 

You know, I think if you're really gonna fight for equity, it's not that you can't do it from the magnet school or from the private school. I will say it's a lot harder, and you're a lot more informed when you have skin in the game. 

 

Sarah Becker: Courtney! Why did you decide to call it Integrated Schools? 

A lot of people bristle at that. Can you tell us more about why you stuck with it? 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, I mean, it's a question we get a lot, right? 

And, you know, we've talked about it. I just feel like we keep hiding. And as White people, we “good fit” our way out of talking about race, right? We “magnet” our way away from talking about integration. We do all the things except actually talk about the thing. And when we're not talking about integration, we’re not talking about integration. And, I think that we need to grapple with the terrible stories of, you know, how desegregation has gone awry in our history. I think we need to face the busing protests and what it means to be related to White moms who throw Coke bottles at little kids walking into buildings. We need to own all of that and, you know, having some kind of like “White, Black, brown hands holding hands all hug.org” just just felt like, you know, it's cuddlier, but...

 

Sarah Becker: You were selling out. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: I just felt like we needed to be brave about it. 

 

Sarah Becker: Yup.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: I'm just really sick of all of the damn euphemisms. 

 

Sarah Becker: Yeah, no I think once you get the veil pulled back, you can't unknow it. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: You can't unknow it. And I also think that the people who are gonna show up to a conversation about integrated schools, those are the people we would, you know who aren't maybe so afraid of it to even say the words out loud, those would be the people we would want to start showing up, right? If we wanted to call this “opportunity hoarding schools” then we would get people who were like “Down! Yeah! I'm down for opportunity hoarding. I’m gonna do that!” So, like, hopefully, this is drawing in the people who can show up in a way without colonizing. Or, at least are adjacent to it, and can start thinking about it and want to be reflective about it. 

 

Sarah Becker: If you're not brave enough to even say the words, you need to go do some more work first. It's not never, but go do some more work first. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, maybe it's that.  One of the things that's been really interesting over the years of doing this work with Integrated Schools is, you know, it's both daunting and terrifying as well as a place of opportunity. But, the conversations are the same everywhere, right? So the conversations the three of us have had, you know, talking with people in Philadelphia, in Nashville, in Minneapolis, in Seattle. It's the same kinds of conversations, and so the hope for this podcast, right, is to sort of record some of these conversations.

 

Sarah Becker: So you don't have them 20 times.!

 

Anna Lodder: You still have to have them 20 times because everybody, because everybody is terminally unique and I was the same way. Like you don't understand, my case is different, my child doesn't eat non organic food. You don't understand, my case is different. You know? 

 

Sarah Becker: I’m special. No… how many times Courtney have you told me, right? What's going on in Houston is no different than L.A. Well, we had that problem five years ago, and I'm like, “Oh, no, I know it's worse here! I know it is!” 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: There's, I think we all have… I like that you're calling it, what did you call it? Terminal...

 

Anna Lodder: Terminal Uniqueness.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Terminal uniqueness. I was calling it “White exceptionalism”. 

 

Anna Lodder: No, that is equally as good. Both are equally terrifying. 

 

Sarah Becker: Appropriate.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: It's fine for you. Or it would be okay if my kid weren't so shy or if our district weren't such a mess or if, you know, I had... you know, spoke Spanish, or, you know, like whatever it is, it's always good for the person, the other person, and not for me. But, you know, I also feel like these are conversations, like you were saying, that you just kind of have to keep having. Because I can talk about this all day and all night, and I'm still gonna learn more things from each of these conversations. 

 

Sarah Becker: Well, that's a generous way of looking at it. But actually White people just need someone to tell them like, “No, you're not special and your kid's gonna be fine!” And they need to be told that like, yes, you can tell your story and that's fine. But the answer is still “your kid's gonna be fine.” You know? Which is why one of Integrated Schools, new projects, right, is the Parent to Parent Program because we recognize that. I mean, yeah, I mean the lies that our culture tells us, it takes time, and we do need hand holding. 

White people are fragile. We are.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Yup. I think that if we’re thinking about the utility of a podcast like this, think back to when you guys were making these decisions, or the many, many, many conversations that the three of us have had, what do you think the topics are that Integrated Schools podcast should cover?

 

Anna Lodder: What if, I mean, what if this school really IS bad? What If it really IS bad, then what? 

 

Sarah Becker: Right? What if I don't like it? 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: I don't want my kid to be the only one, White kid.

 

Sarah Becker: How to have conversations with other people about it. What do I tell people? What do I tell my family? 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Yeah, the social cost, right? Of making this choice? 

 

Sarah Becker: Yeah.

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Whether it's your mother in law, you know, freaking out that you're abusing your children. What was it, Anna that people were saying to you? One of your friends said that…

 

Anna Lodder: It's like... I feel like what you're doing is asking people to light their children on fire to keep other people's children warm. 

 

Sarah Becker: What?! Oh my god!

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Well, uh, well, you know, maybe for elementary school, think about an integrating school, but middle school... that's where stuff gets hairy. 

 

Anna Lodder: Yep. 

 

Courtney Mykytyn: Like literally and figuratively. 

 

Anna Lodder: Okay, here we go. Like, when to stand up at school? When to have a conversation with a teacher? Because I think in doing this right, you know, I have personal values and, like, at what point do I let go of, many thanks to Pinterest, and I'm both, you know, being facetious and being serious for all of these like: “be a better parent by caring about these 10 things,” right? Genetically modified food, homework, screen time, violence...

You know, like right? You know, no time outs, right? 

 

Like there are all of these things being a well-educated parent, well-educated on parenting and wanting to do it right. And reading the research because Huffpost Parents says that homework’s bad for kids. So then I have to go and find the school that doesn't do homework. So I think they're all of these things that I have internalized as things that I hold as important. But then being able to sort of set those aside, it's not something that is easy to do. You know, it's not complicated, but it's very difficult to feel like, you know, my daughter does have homework. Like, and yes, they are worksheets. This is not like “take a walk with your parents and point out all the things that start with B”. It's like no, “write the letter ‘B’ 100 times”. And like, oh my god, is that gonna kill her love of learning? Is that, am I failing as a well-educated parent well educated on parenting? My, like… my lived experience, right, is always less terrifying than my fears of the future.

 

Sarah Becker: Yup!

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Andrew Lefkowits: So, Courtney, one down. How do you feel?

Courtney Mykytyn: Um, terrified? Excited, excited. I'm excited. And I am, um... I'm just profoundly grateful to all the people who are kind of on this journey together. And it's great. Like you, Andrew!

Andrew Lefkowits: Thank you. Big thanks to our guests today, Anna, Sarah and, of course, Courtney and to Kevin Casey for our music.

Courtney Mykytyn: Thank you, Kevin. Please get in touch with us and let us know what you thought. Twitter @integratedschls. Facebook or email us at hello@integratedschools.org.

Andrew Lefkowits: See you next time.