Monday, February 23, 2009

Opinions, Please.

I really would like to know what you think IF you are a reasonable person and not a white supremacist. I say that because this question leans toward race issues and is very sensitive and I am looking for thoughtful responses, not rants and raves.

Hubby has been offered a position in another part of our state. It is a good position at an established downtown church. However, it is an economically depressed city where whites are a minority and race relations are very tense. The school system is also one of the top ten worst in the state. While Hubby would be getting a nice raise, there is no guarantee I would be able to find a job, so essentially we would be in the same financial boat we are now, no better no worse.

Both Hubby and I believe strongly that white flight is wrong. We have a multi-cultural church now and our daughter attends a very diverse Title I public school even though I work at a private school. I never thought I would have this problem. On one hand I think that I am giving her a sense of entitlement if I am always sheltering her but on the other hand, we are dealing with a really crappy teacher right now. Supposedly this school system is filled with crappy teachers. Then add on the racial tensions and the economic disparity....But if I had a third hand, I would say we are just making the problem worse by not being willing to be the people who step up and put their gifted child and their higher salary to work in the schools.

So here's my question for those of you who can and want to issue a civil response: Would you accept this position and put your child into this situation?


Anonymous said...

Ah, the rational mind and the emotional mind. I grew up in a Bronx neighborhood in the 70's during the white flight and I was one of only a handful of white students who remained. We lived in a project and I never knew we were poor or there was any stigma attached to having a different skin color. We moved to Westchester because I tested out of the public school system in 4th grade. My teacher told my parents to get me into a better school system, asap. But the down side of leaving the city and going to the 'burbs and being white and, eventually, middle class was I started to view that as the norm. When my parents worked their way up the economic ladder, we moved to towns with fewer and fewer POC and that felt 10 kinds of wrong.

I now live in a racially and ethnically diverse suburb and have my business in a very mixed part of town. And I wouldn't trade it at all. It keeps me real. There is great opportunity for E to learn and experience things in a city. While the school system may not be great, E isn't going to stop being smart or curious. She may need to get more from you educationally. I was told that no matter where I was, I could learn something if I was interested in learning it.

The job part for you is less certain, true. But your skills may come in handy in an area like this. What does hubby think about the assignment? Will another one be forthcoming if he turns this down? What does E think?

/ dw

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I didn't address the racial tensions. I wouldn't know where to begin. I am so blessed to live in such a diverse area that I take it for granted that my town is what all towns are like. You could visit for a weekend and see if you feel comfortable. There is no advice or opinion worth more than the one you feel in your gut.

/ dw

Anonymous said...

I started school in a whiter than white area and later went to a school system that was full of very affluent students who looked down on me for not having a private bath and my own horse. It didn't matter how smart I was, I didn't really have friends because I couldn't afford their world and it did make me feel fiercely independent and sometimes not as good as everyone else. My last school had people who were coarse, rough and I had some classes where I was so advanced that there were only 2 students in the classroom and were left unsupervised and eventually did our work at home and took long lunch hours. At times I felt frustrated and at times I felt very relaxed, like "why bother" no one seems to care. I excelled at what I loved and was mediocre in what I didn't care about; making up for it in remedial classes in college to get up to the level of most college students.
This is something I'd really have to pray about and look at my child and ask, "how easily is she influence by peer pressure" and can she "talk her way out of a bad/scary situation?" Is she bookish? She might survive, but be lonely. Does she need the whole sports, school clubs, prom thing; or would she feel deprived?
My last school had a severe teen pregnancy problem.
I'd probably need to pray about this and ask for a dream or a sign to know what to do. Always rely on your gut instinct. Have you visited the school? Seen a lunch room or the library?

Jeremy Pope said...

Muddy, since the job issue is uncertain, have you considered the possibility of home education? Test scores aside (home schoolers consistently rank at the 85th percentile), you'll be able to spend time with your kids, while exposing them to -exactly- the things you want them exposed to, in a safe environment, while freeing up their schedules from having to be at a job every day from age 6 onward. Might be worth a study. If it's something you end up wanting to study more, I'd be happy to share resources or chat.

(Home educated all the way through, and wouldn't trade it!)

Anonymous said...

Interesting......when my husband finished his residency in Washington, DC he decided to practice medicine in small town NC (pop. 10,000). Our daughter was born there and since both he and I are successful products of the public school system, we put her in the public schools there. Others in our social group (doctors, lawyers, etc) were shocked as they were/are busing their kids to private schools.
Throughout her years in school, she has been in the white minority. At 16, now a sophomore in High School, she was the only non-minority on the Homecoming Court last Fall and it was awesome. I was so proud of the fact that she was voted in by her school peers. I believe it's because she is friendly and tolerant and likes people for who they are, with many friends in all races. She understands a diversity of people and problems. In our case, we believe that she is better prepared to deal with "all comers" as an adult in any college or career setting. She also has a real compassion and set of life experiences that guide her now. We have never regretted putting her in, and keeping her in, public schools in this town.
PS - We made this move in 1992 after seeing Doc Hollywood and idealizing small town life!

Jeannie said...

I don't live in the U.S. so I really don't know how difficult it could be for you.

If your husband feels he is being called, and given his position, he/you both could possibly work to disarm the racial tensions there maybe?

As for your daughter's schooling - if you are a teacher but maybe not able to find work, then could you volunteer at her school to help make it better? Or "homeschool" her with extra work to keep her challenged?

However, if you feel it's dangerous and don't feel "called" then I would certainly not recommend going somewhere where you will be anxious for your family's safety and well-being. Don't be a martyr

Anonymous said...

My elementary years were spent in a poorer but predominantly white/hispanic system. I did well, we had tracking (kids were segregated by ability)

In eighth grade we move to an affluent community, mostly white with a large poor black minority. Even though I was reading 6 grade levels ahead, I was treated as stupid white trash because of where I came from. They tried to stick me in the general non college track classes. The black kids initially singled me out because I was the new white girl to pick on, but once I showed I was not to be messed with, we got along fine.

So I guess what I'm trying to say that a poor school system isn't necessarily bad. I would worry about dicipline and safety, depending on how bad the system was. Drugs, gangs, would that be a concern?

I live in a working/ middle class community. We've had problems with my son being bullied in middle school; there was no effective discipline to deal with the kids who were acting out. It seemed like the inmates were running the asylum.

We send the 2 younger girls to a Catholic school. The difference in atmosphere is huge. Everyone is there because they want to be there and are committed to learning and being part of a caring community.

I wouldn't rule out the move, but I would check into the situation and the different options further before committing.

Anonymous said...

Assassin says stay, for selfish reasons, but moving on . . . my schools, especially high school, were not as racially diverse as economically diverse. I grew up in a BLUE collar--dirty blue collar--area and literally, only 20 percent of my graduating class went to college. You know how I turned out, for better or worse. I survived as a smart kid. I still scored well on the SAT. Apparently, I was surounded by drug activity, but had no idea. I was completely insulated, safe and innocent.
We actually had bussing to make us racially diverse, and we were, but the real disperity was class and economics. I say go (hurumph) because you know I am a HUGE proponent of the public school system and what it will take to fix it. It will take smart kids who could leave, but choose to stay. It will take parents who want the school to succeed and will be there to volunteer. Honestly, could next year's teacher be worse than this year's? Anywhere? Try it. The worse case scenario, you find the closest charter school.
The question is, what's the church like? And how far from me, darn it.

ty-ping said...

To be honest you've got two views here.

The Charitable view that says that everyone should be treated fairly and equal, that says it doesn't matter what school your child is in so long as she is supported at home and wants to learn and you're willing to suppliment her learning if she is not being challenged at school.

And the Human view that is more self serving that says why should you have to take less just to look PC? If you can afford a better school, go there. If you can get a better job, do it. Don't put yourself and your daughter in a situation where you're just going to be bitching about it later. Why suffer your happiness in order to make those around you seem better off.

You may be the thing that tursn this neighbourhood around.

This neighbourhood may be the thing that drives YOU off the deep end.

In the end the choice is yours, you shouldn't let a bunch of strangers on the internet validate your choices. Do you want to serve others, or secure your own future? Society or the Family? The Group or the Individual?
Neither is wrong and neither is right.
The only person you have to impress at the end of the day is yourself.

FreeDragon said...

I don't have children but if I was in your situation I would base my decision on the school. I'd visit the school first and if it was horrible (dirty, run-down, kids running amok) I wouldn't send my child there. That would be what I did no matter WHERE I was thinking of moving, so when you look at it like that race isn't even an issue.
And if you have a multicultural church race isn't a problem, your family already knows how to deal with people from all walks of life.
In this economy you are looking at unemployment almost everywhere, so that's not an issue either.
I have a friend who married a GI and their daughter starting talking early. Then he got stationed in Germany and her daughter stopped talking because she was suddenly pulled away from everything she knew. But the child got to grow up in Germany. So with everything there's good and bad. Sometimes you trade problems for another set, but that's how you learn and grow. This might be a stepping stone to a better place.

Terra Tenshi said...

I think it comes down to one major question: How willing are you to home school your child if it comes to that?

I'm not saying that you shouldn't give the public schools like that a try at first but speaking from experience there are things that sometimes go on in poor schools that could really harm a child. Drug abuse, sexual abuse by teachers, seeing classmates who are being abused at home, using "bright" kids as student-teachers because they don't have enough teachers and the ones they do are so overworked.

If you're willing to keep an eye on what is going on at your child's school and pull them out to home school them or put them in private school if necessary then I would say go for it. If not then I'd suggest you stay put or at least do thorough research before taking the risk.