During the next few months, our children are going to have an opportunity to learn an important lesson from – and about – us.
How we, as a community, deal with the overcrowding issues affecting our neighborhood schools is going to be a telling lesson.
Among the underlying concerns: Tolerance. Sharing the wealth. Us vs. them (or, perhaps, homeowners vs. apartment residents). Racism. Property values.
Like most things in life, there are no clear right or wrong answers to the overcrowding issues outlined in our cover story this month.
It’s obvious our neighborhood schools have a problem. It’s not obvious (at least, not by acclamation) how the problems should be solved.
There are those among us who believe that everything would be OK if a bulldozer demolished most of the apartment complexes throughout our community.
There are those who believe that opting out of RISD, and allowing Lake Highlands to have a home-rule school district independent of both Richardson and Dallas, is the best solution.
There are those who believe that busing schools from overcrowded schools to underutilized ones, regardless of distance from one point to another, is the way to go.
And, of course, there are those who believe that private school is really the only safe alternative to the problems we’ve outlined in our cover story.
There’s a problem with all of the overcrowding solutions being kicked about these days – each has a glaring weakness or two.
Banishing all “apartment kids” from our schools sounds like a great solution to overcrowding, but it is a very simplistic solution. And who’s to say that someone living in an apartment is any more or less of a student than someone living in a house?
Building new schools throughout the district is an obvious solution, but new construction will require Richardson residents to pump a good deal of money into Lake Highlands. How popular do you suppose that’s going to be among Richardson taxpayers?
Of course, there’s always busing, that old friend of the courts. But who wants to sign up their child for a five-mile bus ride to and from school every day when there’s a neighborhood school right around the corner?
And then there are those who believe Lake Highlands should have its own school district. Even though this sounds appealing as a way to control our destiny, where is the tax money going to come from to run a school district? And who is going to lead this kamikaze charge?
That’s the problem with growing older, I’m afraid. Most of us have been kicked around enough by now that we know there isn’t a black-and-white, everyone-supports-it solution to most important issues.
And the frustration of knowing the road ahead isn’t going to be easy or fun makes it more difficult to become involved.
But if we, as neighborhood residents, don’t become involved in RISD’s overcrowding discussion during the upcoming months, we can pretty much bet that our viewpoint – whatever that viewpoint is – is less likely to be heard and implemented.
The stakes are pretty high in this debate, whether you have school-age children or not. Many people moved to Lake Highlands because of our schools, and many will move away if solutions to these problems aren’t found.
And this much movement from our neighborhood will destabilize our community and reduce (or at least stagnate) home values.
A year from now, it’s likely that RISD will be implementing a solution. We at the Advocate will do our best to ensure that as many sides of these issues are discussed as rationally as possible in our pages. I hope you’ll help us out by giving us your ideas or volunteering to write about your perspective.
Our goal is that a year from now, our children can look back on the year and say they learned a clear lesson: Hearing and learning about the many sides to an issue may at times be painful and confusing, but it’s the best way to make sure the best solution is selected.
Like To Eat Out (and Write About It)?
Would you like to try your hand at restaurant reviews for the Lake Highlands Advocate?
We aren’t necessarily looking for an experienced restaurant critic, because our reviews are intended to be informational rather than critical of neighborhood eateries.
The only real qualifications are that you must enjoy eating and writing. That doesn’t sound too tough, does it?
Give me a call at 341-3353 if you are interested.