I've always been very interested in education and what that looks like for so many people in our country, and around the world. Growing up, I didn't attend public school until 10th grade, and I've since realized that how the pubic school system in NY ran, was far different than the way it runs in other parts of the country where we've lived.
In NY if you choose to send your kids to public school, you get one option, and one school. Each town has a small handful of elementary schools, and then as far as I know, one middle school, and one high school. Each town or city has it's own school district. If you live in Waterford, you go to Waterford-Halfmoon High School. If you live in Saratoga, you go to Saratoga High School. I remember when we moved to the suburbs when I was in 10th grade, my brother still wanted to attend the lower rated high school that he was going to previously and the districts were unwilling to accommodate that request.
My senior year of high school, my mom moved out of the school district for my high school, and I didn't want to go to the school where she was living so I moved in with a friend's family thinking that I would attend the neighboring city's school for my senior year. My friend's dad went into the school's office thinking he could sign me up for school with his kids, and they told him the only way he could do that was if he adopted me... which they weren't going to do because I was 17 and didn't hate my parents.
So we wound up having to pretend that I never actually moved, we told my high school that I still lived in the same house I had the last three years, and then we got all my mail forwarded to a PO box in that town so the school would never find out that I'd moved. And it worked, but it meant I had to drive about 25 minutes to school each day, and I still consider my friend's family a bunch of saints for making that happen for me.
When we moved to North Carolina, the area we lived was growing so rapidly that kid's couldn't always attend their assigned schools because there were simply too many kids, so they had other schools assigned as "over flow" schools, and if your school was too full, you got moved to the next one. As far as I understand, most of our friend's kids are still being shuffled from one school to the next each year because they don't have enough room for all the students. They even do year round school without a traditional summer break, meaning you go to school for six weeks, get a couple weeks off, back for another six weeks, and get another couple weeks off, and this goes on all year without a long extended break like a traditional school schedule.
Then when we moved to Georgia I was amazed when I learned that school districts weren't assigned to cities here, but they're assigned to the entire county (which I've since learned is similar to North Carolina as well). And if you don't like the public school your assigned to, you can basically lottery into any other public school that you want. This is why Derek and I didn't care that much about the schools when we bought our house, because it essentially doesn't really matter. As far as I know, for elementary and middle school, you have to at least go to a school in your assigned district but they have an open high school policy for 9th-12th grades which means you can basically go to any high school in the state of Georgia as long as your parents drive you everyday.
Here in America, we have so many different opportunities for learning, whether it's through the public school, homeschool, private schools, it goes on and on, but one thing that doesn't change is that everyone (for the most part) gets an education. For many people living in third world countries, there isn't the same expectation. In India, many people don't think an education is as valuable to a girl as it is to a boy, and girls are often pulled out of school at younger ages, or denied the right to an education all together. In Nepal, children are forced to marry each other at ages as young as 7 & 8, where they'll likely grow up to live in impoverished, unhealthy environments.
That is why I'm so excited to be partnering with CARE today. They're a global humanitarian organization that fights poverty by empowering girls, and women. In 1999 they opened their first accelerated school for girls in India. This means that older girls who were denied the right to an elementary education were able to enroll, and receive a complete five year, elementary school education in the matter of eleven months. Once they complete the program, the girls are able to enroll in their local middle schools, and then the intercollegiate schools, and then move onto the university from there. It's estimated that a person will earn 20% more income over a lifetime for each year of school that they attend beyond fourth grade. Last year, CARE made this possible for 1.4 million girls around the world. But there are still an estimated 33 million school-age girls that are denied a right to an education around the world each year.
CARE has launched a new campaign called #SimplySaid where they asked students why they like school, how their education inspires them, how they can be successful, and what their biggest challenges are. You can see their responses in the two short videos found here. It's amazing to see how real, and deep their answers are because when I asked Jay these questions he said he likes school because he can paint, and that his education inspires him to be a turtle when he grows up... so we're obviously doing great things in our house.
If you're looking for a quick and simple way that you can make a difference for these kids, consider sending them a simple letter of hope. These letters will be sent to the children in these schools, and will be letters of encouragement to help give them the push they may need to continue their education and help make a difference in the lives of their families, and their communities.
Anzida, 14, was enrolled in school until the second grade, but like too many girls her age she was forced out of the classroom and began working around the home doing chores. She says that the best part of her life began when she joined the CARE’s Udaan school. At the Udaan school in India, girls who were forced to drop out of school can catch up through an accelerated learning program. I love to study here and hope to study further, Anzida says.