Now that we've started our house-hunting, we are faced with a dilemma. No, not a dilemma, but, let's say, an "issue." The "schools" issue. (I've just said the dirtiest word in all of San Francisco.)
First the back story for those that aren't familiar. (I'll try to be brief.) Unlike in most cities, there is no such thing as going to your neighborhood school in San Francisco. For many people, buying a home in a good school district is a top consideration. (Even if you don't have kids, for resale value, right?) Here it doesn't matter. You could live in a low-income area and be sending your kid to a school surrounded by multi-jillion-dollar gated mansions.
In San Francisco, families wanting to send their children to a public school are entered into a city-wide lottery system. You indicate your top choices, and then based on an arbitrary set of criteria (including mother's highest level of education completed), you hope you get into one of them. You could be sent anywhere in the city, either to the elementary school down the block or the one clear across town. This is all part of some court-ordered desegregation scheme. I hear that now that the schools are (supposedly) more mixed-up, this plan is supposed to end, but not for a couple more years.
When we moved to Portland, school district was one of the things we considered when we bought our house. The school Bunny would have attended is consistently top-rated. When we closed escrow on our house, we breathed a sigh of relief that we would never have to face the San Francisco public school lottery nightmare.
So now, here we are. Bunny has one more year of preschool left, and then it's on to kindergarten. On the one hand, having been a teacher, I know it's not about the school, it's about the teachers. There are good and bad teachers in every school. And high test scores? You can often read between the lines on that one. Having been a teacher, I fully support public education. I believe that if more people sent their kids to public schools, then more people would be willing to help fix the problems...which means a better chance of them getting fixed.
Simplistic? Yes. But at the heart of it is the fact that families should feel invested: in education, in their communities, in their children's futures, in our country's future. Shitty schools=shitty future for us all. I mean, what would happen if we entrusted our precious country to some barely-educated ignoramus who just fucked things up and made us look like a bunch of assholes to the rest of the world?
(I'm not making this brief am I?)
Okay, okay, here's what we are thinking: we could stay in San Francisco and take our chances with the schools, and Bunny, because she is our daughter, will most likely be fine.
Or, we could move outside of the city, to a place with good schools, but we'd be giving up everything we love so much about city living. (And J. would have to commute.) We are not 'burb people (though, arguably we just spent 16 months living in 'burby Portland), but should we make that sacrifice for our kids?
What would you do?
(And, I would just like to say a big "fuck you" to the San Francisco school lottery system. I bet more families would stay here if this wasn't an issue.)