Thursday morning my partner and I dropped my son off at Martin Luther King Elementary after receiving incorrect bus information from the district. When we arrived, a sea of enthusiastic volunteers who were guiding the children through the orientation process greeted us. About half of them (or less) were wearing yellow shirts with frogs that said something about kindergarten. The rest were wearing red Bank of America shirts.
MLK serves the Central North Side and the Perry Hilltop neighborhoods. The former is rapidly going through a gentrification process. There are plenty of middle and upper middle-class white folks living in the area now, but not one of them attends kindergarten with my son. Many of them purchased their now-trendy historical homes after they were foreclosed.
Many of us who struggle to stay in the neighborhood have lost neighbors because of foreclosures by irresponsible and unethical banks, and one of the biggest culprits has sent its employees into our school to help our children “have a better future.”
I am sure that many of the Bank of America employees sincerely care about the well-being of local children, but marketing the bank to kindergarten students and their parents is inappropriate and distracting.
United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good, and its first goal is improving education. I want it in my son’s school. Bank of America’s mission is to make money — it has no place in the public education system.