Most mornings I listen to NPR on the way in to work. It’s really nice. It’s like having my smartest, most articulate friends chatting around as I chauffer them into Brentwood.
I am completely aware that my opinion about Nashville rezoning schools means absolutely nothing. More than that, the rezoning of Nashville schools has little to no immediate effect on my life. That does not mean that I do not get riled up over the issue.
For the past two weeks, a decent amount of my drive time radio listening has revolved around this issue. As of right now, there are kids in pockets of downtown Nashville being bused for nearly 2 hours of drive time into nicer, more affluent areas of Nashville for their education. There is some talks about rezoning these areas, and having these kids go to schools that are *gasp* closer to where they live.
My opinion? I think this makes so much sense. First, let’s talk economics and the amount of money being spent on fuel to get these kids out into the nicer areas (just a note, there are no predominantly white neighborhoods being bused into the Pearl-Cohn High Schools… like I said, just a note). Efficiency is a good thing, people. Good thing.
Second, the waste of another valuable resource: Time. These kids have to get up earlier (which from a purely biological standpoint really works against the growing teenage body) so that they can be on buses for the next 30 to 45 minutes. And then will have to spend another 30-45 minutes of drive time back home. That’s nearly 2 hours of time that cannot be spent in tutoring, studying, extracurricular activities, etc.
Parents of bused in kids are less likely to be able to actively participate in the school because of inconvenience. Bused in kids are less likely to be involved in extracurricular activities because it is unrealistic to get rides between home and school.
There seem to be lots and lots of reasons to say yes to rezoning schools, in my opinion. What does the “other side” say? Well, the core of the argument rests on the fear of “re-segregation”. Fair enough. Because it would be really scary to return to a world where we lived seperately, worked seperately, or worshipped seperately… right? I guess I understand the fear of “re-segregating” schools… for the most part it is the only place we might interact with people from various races or socioeconomic classes (I went to one of the most diverse high schools in the system, and trust me, we still managed to split into various groups).
Re-segregation, it is argued, would just widen the gap between the poor and the less poor (we are still talking about public schools here, folks). The plan would essentially concentrate all of your “problem” kids (minority, non-English speaking, low-income, gang involvement) in one high school. (Another aside, but one article talked about how this rezoning plan would put 7 different gangs in one high school, and that would be catastrophic… does anyone else think we just handed a LOT of power over to some young bullies?)
The thing that really gets my underroos in a wad are the white urbanites that went in to “gentrificate” downtown Nashville.
“My realtor promised my kids wouldn’t have to go to schools in North Nashville!” they are crying.
Because with a rezoning plan they might have to actually become a part of the urban neighborhoods they’re carefully cleaning up. The problems of the people they are so proud to live “amongst” will become their problems. The low test scores and high drop out rates will now become their concerns.
I don’t know what sucks the most. That it is ok for some kids to have what has been deemed a low quality education. That the only time re-segregation is an issue is when the people in power may be made uncomfortable without it. That people are so willing to let others deal with problems created by low income and gang activity alone. That it is so hard for people to say what they want, and they feel obligated to cover it all up in pretty politically correct language. That this whole thing communicates the idea that a group of poor, gang infested, underfunded people can’t do anything positive without the help of the powerful and rich.