Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Plight of the Atlanta Parent

I’m surprised they still let me post here at Metblogs. See, I spent the last month-plus living about two hours outside of Atlanta (that will have to be a whole ‘nother post) while we moved out of our East Atlanta home and waited to close on our new house in the burbs. I had no internet access at home. It was truly harrowing.

There. I said it. I can no longer say I live intown. I live in the burbs. OTP. Outside the fence.

I have written numerous times about my love for our old neighborhood. When it came down to it, though, I love my kids more. I just wasn’t ready to send my kid to a school with abysmal test scores and where he would be a less than one percent minority at that school. I know. Many parents send their kids to schools where their child is in that small a minority, but I wonder how many of them send them to a school where their child is in that small a minority and test scores are bottom of the barrel. My guess? Not many. I am thinking that parents might overlook the lack of diversity at a school if it meant a child would be surrounded by kids who are more successful.  We weighed the options and the issues, and it came down to the realization that sending my child to that school would simply serve the purpose of proving a point, rather than striving to give my child the best educational opportunities I can manage to give him.

When we made the decision not to send our children to the public elementary school in our neighborhood, we started looking at other options. Charter schools? Not an option for us in our area of unincorporated Dekalb. Private schools? Yikes. Even at the more affordable end they were going to cost us five to seven thousand dollars a year (and some of them cost much more than a year of public university tuitions!) Sure, we could swing $7000/year if I went back to work. Oh, wait – Our daughter will start school in four years. Then we’d be paying almost 15,000 dollars/year tuition. Not to mention the cost of after school childcare and for the summers, when they aren’t in school.

We searched for homes inside the perimeter in better school districts. (I dare anyone to start researching schools and not start going gray – It is as if someone didn’t want me to compare test scores and other information for schools in different areas and different school districts, much less for different states. Try to compare public and private schools and your head will explode.) We’d either be downsizing (and we already lived in a three BR), or paying so much for a house that, again, I would have to go back to work and then the daycare costs until both kids started elementary (and again, for summers) would barely make the back-to-work option worth it.

We slowly started discussing the possibility of moving outside the perimeter, at first laughingly, then in whispers, as it became a more real possibility, and finally we resigned ourselves to it. We started looking at homes in the school districts we had identified that had what we were looking for: Decent test scores, diversity, in a neighborhood we could afford, and not so far from town that the commute would suck my husband of any semblance of a meaningful life. We finally found an area we liked (ish), where houses are in our price range, the kids would have other kids to play with, and that we didn’t find too lacking in character. We bought a house here a few weeks ago.

When it came down to it, I cried when I left East Atlanta. I hated leaving the place where I met my husband, where I met friends and wonderful neighbors, and to which I brought two kids home from the hospital. I had been there long enough that I couldn’t go anywhere without at least seeing one person I knew from the neighborhood.
In the end, I know that it is for the best. The kids love the new house and neighborhood already, and my husband and I are laughingly giving in to a quieter way of life, and at the same time cracking up at what we have become. I do think, though, that we are not alone. I have already met four sets of neighbors with kids close in age to ours. They always ask where we moved from and then nod knowingly at our answer. Turns out they moved from Ormewood, Kirkwood, and East Atlanta themselves. As one girl told me, “We are city folk.”

I wonder how many people all over Atlanta have struggled with the same thing, forced by poverty, job location, housing prices or failing schools to make the same difficult decision that we made. Our decision is made, though, and we do not regret it. I just see it as an adventure, a challenge to find what is interesting and colorful, and special about the new area we live in. I’ve already been thinking a lot about it, and exploring this new frontier, and you can bet that you will see some Metblogs posts about it. I think that intown readers might be surprised at a few of my observations. I know I have already found a few things that surprised me.

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