On Tuesday, the school board member who represents my little slice of the county emailed the agenda for the next school board meeting to a friend of mine. In it was the bombshell that our area is potentially being rezoned to a different school for the next school year.. This is a little bit different than your standard rezoning school fight.
The place where I live is on the very southern edge of what could be considered the satellite communities of Nashville, but it is also on the northern end of a county where most of the power is concentrated in a good-ole-boy town south of us. The northern part of the county is growing like crazy while the central and southern areas are not. There is a pronounced difference in demographics.
Now demographics is usually some kind of code word for racial minority or something like that, but it isn't what I mean. The town I consider myself a member of is mostly populated with middle income, upwardly mobile, professional families. The town south of us is a typical small Southern town where competence and planning aren't always the top priorities, but the good ole boys like it that way. The schools in the satellite area of the county are high performing schools as the demographics might indicate. The schools in the rest of the county generally are not.
Up until now, my neighborhood has been zoned for the schools in the Nashville satellite part of the county. The people who live here and the property values reflect that fact. The system is now wanting to rezone our neighborhood to schools south of here into the small town part of the county. The rezoning isn't just changing schools; it is changing the type of community our children will spend most of their time in and it is potentially changing the level of academic standards. It is also in the total opposite direction of everything we do.
This situation, as you can imagine, has generated much heat and some light. I have spent most of my week working on this problem, facilitating community discussions, and trying to find alternatives to rezoning. The major problem is that the school system has not adequately planned for the growth in the north of the county and does not see much need to start now. The families affected by the rezoning implicitly understand that once our area gets pulled out of the high performing schools, they are never going to let us back in. Our diminished prospects will be reflected in both our children's education and our property values.
As you know, I have been exploring homeschooling rather seriously as we transition out of my job and into Dave's. The timing of this transition has always felt angsty to me. The sooner, the better, last week if possible. Now this timetable feels much more fraught. I have no desire to send my children into the town south of here for school. My educational concerns with their current school have always been that the classes may not be accelerated enough to prevent boredom. If they are moved into a lower performing school, it can almost be guaranteed the curriculum will not move fast enough for them. Since we cannot afford to move or pay tuition, homeschooling would be our only option.
This is both exhilarating and terrifying. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. My ability to approach homeschooling as a hopeful experiment where the schools are present as a safety net is severely compromised. If the lack of planning and haphazard rezoning continues into future years, it is easy to predict that we will soon be pushed into a zone for a middle school that I will NOT send my children to. The writing is on the wall. And at that point, homeschooling must succeed.