Lesser of two crazy-making activities

By Mir
January 13, 2007

I can’t decide:

1) Deciding to paint just that one piece of dinged trim before showing the house tomorrow and finding myself painting trim, doors, the entire staircase, and huh, whaddaya know, I’ve been painting for SIX HOURS.


2) Having a prolonged discussion about school districts, looking up statistics online, realizing I have lived a life of white privilege and that while I certainly COULD provide that for my kids in the south, it would be twenty different kinds of wrong to do so; and realize further that I am not just moving to another state, but possibly a different universe.

I was leaning towards the former being the lesser, but I dunno, I seem to have an unusually long staircase….


  1. Marvo

    I vote for painting because the fumes smell so sweet and takes me to a place where I can run barefoot along a beach with an orange sky and purple sun.

    No, I’m not painting right now.

  2. Muirnait

    I don’t know how well I’d do in the south, because sometimes I just can’t keep my big opinionated mouth shut, and that’d likely get me into trouble.

  3. Linda

    Muirnait, I wouldn’t worry. There are pretty opinionated people in the south as well. :)

    Mir, as for the schools in the south (I grew up there), my biggest complaint was the class size. Almost 30-35 in every class. The schools that I went to (since those are the only ones I can speak of) tended to let the kids who seemed to “get it” be off on their own and focused more on the kids who didn’t. I never cracked a book before my sophomore year in high school and never learned how to “study”.

  4. carolyn

    All is not lost, Mir. Every area of the country is struggling with educational issues and the south is no different. But it is possible to find quality schools and caring teachers here. I’m sure with your tenacity and sheer will power, you will do just that.

  5. Daisy

    I teach in the North, not the South, but I agree with Carolyn. There are caring teachers in every region of the nation. I recommend a visit. A school tour (while school is in session) will show you more than any statistics can.

  6. Crisanne

    I think you’ll find visits a necessity. A great website for stats is : http://www.greatschools.net It can help with that initial weeding-out. You can find out testing scores (which unfortunately tell you more about a school than I like to admit) and sometimes there are parent reviews. Ultimately you know better than anyone else what your kids need, so you’ll have to search that out on your own. More leg work for you, but Chick and Monkey are worth it.

  7. rachel

    the south is unique. It is odd moving there from the north. seriously. a whole new culture. thank goodness you have otto as a guide!

    Does Otto have any friends with kids? that might be a good place to start wrt schools. Of course, everyone has a different perspective on what a “good” school is.

    You’ve mentioned that you’re Christian before – could you talk to someone in a congregation of your denomination in the area? Just ask the Sunday School coordinator about schools?

  8. Jenny

    I vote for anything that gets you away from 6 hours of painting.

  9. Cele

    I’ve always lived in areas where school selection was not an option. Maybe that was just the time frame I grew up in. You live in a district, you go to that school. Parents make up for a lot that could go wrong. While even in good school parents can ignor all and make it go bad.

    You have the unique choice of moving to specific areas. Ratings will help you, personal references will help you more, and the parental skills you have already will help you the most. Your kids can’t go too wrong with a parent like you at the helm.

  10. Ruth

    Here’s holding out hope to you- When I was a kid, sixth grade, we moved from New England to the south. It was a big change, we were in awe, and surprised how races segregated themselves. Mom sent us to a magnet school in Raleigh which was smack in the middle of the “projects” – I loved that school, and the more local (non-magnet) high school I went to afterwards. In comparison, people treated each other with more “live and let live” kindness and even though the statistics were lower, we were put in core classes that challenged us at our level. After moving during high school (Dad’s job again) to Indiana, I can say I didn’t learn much in a high-rated, “white privelege” high school, and that “Hoosier Hospitality” seemed like a weird self-love fest.

    Georgia has juicy fresh peaches and pecans, beautiful fir trees, redbuds and dogwoods, azaleas in early spring, gentle mountains, some very classy people- it’s a place to love. Enjoy it for me, will ya?

  11. chris

    Ah yes, I don’t think I could live in the south… you know unless I had to because the man I loved was there.

  12. Jane

    Diversity can feed your soul. Embrace it when it presents itself.

  13. Laura

    I’m not sure I completely agree with the test scores telling a lot about a school. My daughter’s elementary school’s WASL scores (our standardized test in WA state) are very high, which was one reason we bought our house in this area. Unfortunately those scores translate in real life to them gutting arts programs, skimping on history and science and focusing almost exclusively on literacy and math. Sadly, they teach to the test. I think that problem is pretty widespread since ‘no child left behind.’ With funding tied to results I think many schools are making curriculum decisions that are rooted in fear.

    Don’t get me wrong, scores are great information to have. I think they can be useful in context after having visited the school, talking to the administrators and most importantly seeing how other parents feel about the school.

    You know what you want for Monkey and Chick, and what your priorities are. That is more than half the battle. You’ll find the right place for them.

  14. Krisco

    It probably is just the beginning of a whole new Southern World. I’m sure you will find the right school(s) though.

  15. carson

    I agree with Laura on the test scores only being one piece of the puzzle. Also look at how involved the parents are (PTA membership). Visiting the actual school, walking up and down the halls, talking to teachers will give you more information than any collection of numbers, though.

    My local elementary is bottom rung on the test scores, but more than 70% of the students are ESOL students. I’m sure if I tried to take a test in a different language, I’d do a bit worse. But the parent participation is in the high 90% for open houses, etc. The teachers are great. And if my daughter were a standard deviation or two closer to that hump in the bell curve, she’d be there.

  16. JayMonster

    The first is definitely the lesser of the two crazy-making.

    Even if you wound up painting the whole house due to a ding. When it is done, it is done. There is only one way to second guess it.

    The latter is one that you can bounce around in your head from now to eternity, and still not decide whether or not you made the right decision.

  17. Ani

    Luckily, you will be near a major university, which generally translates to parental involvement in local education.

    If within your budget, ask where the professors live and send their kids. Those schools will be well supported. But housing prices will also reflect that.

    We live in a relatively cruddy school district, but our son attends the school where many of the local university’s staff send their kids. Hence, great things going on.

  18. Ani

    Oh and one more thing…

    The first six weeks we lived in the South (moved here from up near your neck of the woods…)

    WE HATED IT. Bashed our head against the wall until our ears bled.

    But then you get to meet people, and realize they’d give you the shirt off their backs, once they know you. And it all turns into a lovely place to be. So hang in there, and all will be well. And your kids will pick up a lovely “y’all” thing you can beat out of them later. :-)

  19. Christina

    Well, I live in Texas. I moved here from California about 10,000 years ago. Really don’t knock it, until you try it. I just met a man yesterday, who was telling us a story about when he moved here from California. He pulled over on the side of the road to read a map and within like 2 mins three other cars pulled over to see if he needed some assistance, a cell phone or a ride somewhere….that’s the South for you…people care. I am very fortunate to live in a neighborhood where on my block 34 kids play outside TOGETHER. You can borrow eggs from your neighbor and not worry about giving it back. We have block parties, progressive dinners, game night etc… Some of the school districts are really really good and some of them not so much….Good luck, I hope you find the Southern Hospitality as sweet as their Iced Tea.

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