My family and I spend several weeks vacationing outside Texas last month, and it’s second-nature for me to grab newspapers everywhere we visit.

I thought you might enjoy a little matching game: I’ll provide the headline, and you guess the city where I found it.

1) “A city under siege makes quality of life a major issue.”

2) “Police take a new look at kids, crime and courts.”

3) “Neighborhood policing essential, new police chief says.”

4) “Youth jailed following attempt to run-down pedestrian.”

And now, the rest of the story:

1) Residents of Minneapolis, Minn. – that well-known hell-hole – seem to be just as concerned as Dallas residents about the direction of their city. This article about upcoming city elections details residents’ concerns: Crime, Education, Code Enforcement, Neighborhood Policing. (Sound familiar?) It was particularly interesting, I thought, that the following day, “Money” magazine’s annual ranking of the best U.S. cities in which to live cited Minneapolis as fourth best, while Dallas was ranked 44th.

2) Anoka, Minn., is a fairly affluent bedroom suburb of Minneapolis, much the same as Richardson and Plano are here. Here’s the first sentence of this article: “Frustrated by the number of juveniles who slide from youthful delinquency to serious crime, Anoka police say they want to create a civilian children’s panel to handle misbehaving youths directly and informally.”

3) The new police chief in Seattle, Wash., was addressing a local civic organization and talking about neighborhood policing as a solution to the city’s “growing crime problem,” as he put it.

4) From afar, Ketchikan, Alaska, appears to be a picturesque, idyllic fishing hamlet on Alaska’s western coast. But according to the owner of a local taxi company who sat next to us in the town’s main-street restaurant, things aren’t as hunky-dory in Ketchikan as one might expect: A lot of fishermen and miners are unemployed; some young people apparently don’t have the same respect for law and order that old-timers exhibit; and schools aren’t teaching kids what they need to know.

The conclusion of all this? Life – or at least the portrayal of life in the media – already has changed in rural and urban America, whether we like it or not. There don’t appear to be too many safe havens to raise children and live quietly anymore – despite our daily wishes and dreams to the contrary.

Even my parents – who live on a farm six miles from Detroit Lakes, Minn., a town of approximately 5,000 residents – lock the house when they leave now.

I guess we’ll just have to stick around here and fix our problems. Moving away just doesn’t seem like a solution anymore, unless you know of somewhere where crime, educational problems and drugs are just newspaper headlines.

Upon our return to Dallas, we learned from a Morning News article that Lake Highlands’ neighborhood public schools had been identified as “acceptable” by the Texas Education Agency.

Now, when it comes to our children’s education, the word “acceptable” somehow doesn’t seem good enough.

Next month, we’ll publish a more comprehensive look at what is happening at our neighborhood schools, and we’ll have some ideas about what we as taxpayers and parents and neighborhood residents can do to improve these schools.