Schools…Seriously?

It’s no secret that I live in the suburbs…or that I don’t like it.  I’ve written about it here, and here.  Happily, though, we’re moving out of the subdivision we’ve lived in for the past three years; the one I’ve complained about so much; the one with all the damn New Yorkers.  Finally, we’re moving away, and into a really nice house in…

…another subdivision.  Yup.  I know.  Why would I move from somewhere I hate, and fly straight to more of the same?  I could mumble something about safe neighborhoods, and space to wander around, and stuff like that, but those are really the satellite reasons orbiting around the real deal.

It’s the schools.  All things being equal regarding rent, house size and amenities, the schools that we’d actually feel good sending our kids to are in the suburbs.  I’ll say up front that Florida schools are not the equal of northern schools…by far.  The best schools here are equal to middle-of-the-road schools up north.  I’m getting my information from experience living here, word-of-mouth from area parents, and Greatschools.org.  Greatschools.org is a well-respected website that ranks and rates schools nationwide, and while they’re not the be-all end-all, they give an accepted, consistent rating system of schools based on test scores, with reviews from parents on the site.

In Tampa, the good schools are in the suburbs.  According to a Greatschools.org map, in town, not counting the neighborhoods like Hyde Parke, where working people can’t afford to live, the schools have angry red icons, and low ratings.  As you move out from the town center, the school quality rises, and you reach a ring of happy, green, high-rated schools in the suburbs.  The schools then plummet as you move farther out into the country.  I would say the majority of the schools are rated a five (on a 1-10 scale) and lower.

Let me say that again.  Most of the schools range from mediocre to bad, and in Florida, the bad schools have students that pick on teachers, teachers that blatantly don’t teach, open drug deals, developmentally delayed students drowning on campus, and rapes in middle school bathrooms.  The bad schools are really bad.  Kids don’t get an education, and run the real risk of being traumatized at school.

Thing is, though, that all of the schools here are full, whether they’re good, bad or indifferent.  I’d guess, then, that more than half of the kids currently in school here in Hillsborough County are not receiving a decent education.  I’d guess that more than half the kids in Hillsborough County are being exposed to crime and violence at their school.

I’d guess that more than half of of the PARENTS in Hillsborough County are indifferent to their children’s school experience.  That’s the part I really don’t understand.  How can parents be okay with sending their kids to schools with gangs, inter-racial violence, and little to no teaching?  I would think the second time my kid came home with a black eye or a dime bag, I would be screaming at the school board to make changes and so would my neighbors.

How do teachers who don’t teach get to keep their jobs?

How do administrators who allow gangs to roam their schools keep their jobs?

How do parents sleep at night knowing that they’re sending their kids to schools with real, serious, possibly criminal problems?

Well, my wife and I are not okay with that, not at all.  So when we got the word that the house we’re renting is going to be put up for sale, we started looking at houses for rent…and a necessity for us is a set of schools that will educate our children and be a safe haven for them while they’re there.

And those schools are in the God-damned suburbs.

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