Several years ago when I was home-schooling my two older daughters, I got into a debate with Pastor Kevin Myers from 12Stone Church. He had three kids at the time, and they all attended public school. My belief at that time was that there were elements of the public school system in the metro Atlanta area that would be a negative influence on my kids.
I knew this from experience: I had my teaching degree, and had been teaching in both public and private schools for many years.
His response stuck with me to this day. He said that he and his wife believed when it came to educating their children, it was better to “insulate them than to isolate them”. He felt if children were properly raised up in a Godly home with Biblical principles, they could withstand the negative aspects of public school and be “salt and light” to nonbelievers.
I agreed with him…to a degree. Hence the title for this blog.
We took a break from home-schooling a few years later. It wasn’t because I’d had a sudden and profound change of opinion regarding the value of home-schooling; it was mostly because 1) the economy crashed, and we needed my income, and 2) my oldest was about to enter high school and she’d surpassed my level of math and science knowledge. Even with my teaching degree, I didn’t feel comfortable beyond Algebra 1.
So my kids entered public school in Gwinnett County, Georgia: in the same year, my oldest entered high school, my second child entered middle school, and my youngest entered kindergarten. And I entered the work force. (This was 2009, and the economy was terrible.)
It was a mixed blessing. Luckily, we lived in a very desirable “cluster” (a district within the county that encompasses a single high school area, plus the middle and elementary schools that “feed” the high school), which meant the schools were the best in the county. Within a few years, my oldest was taking all AP classes, was a percussion Captain in the biggest marching band in the state, and was on-track to graduate with a full year of college credits under her belt. My youngest was in gifted classes, and my middle daughter was a high school cheerleader.
Living in a desirable cluster in metro Atlanta meant that our cluster was overcrowded. There were more kids in the marching band than I had in my entire graduating class. There were ninety-two different languages spoken in the county school system…and they bragged about this as though it was a good thing. Traffic was out of control: the idea of running to the grocery store between 4:30 and 7:00 was out of the question.
We were also in a “majority-minority” county: as a white family, we were already outnumbered by the black and Hispanic population put together. In fact, in 2009 alone, eighty-five percent of all new residents to metro Atlanta were minorities. This alone wouldn’t be an issue if not for the corresponding rise in violent crime in the area. In a two-week period, there were two drive-by purse snatchings in the parking lot of our two closest grocery stores…in broad daylight. I got myself a Concealed Carry Permit and carried a Glock under my shirt whenever I left the house.
Yet whenever we turned on the television, the mainstream media were pushing the false narrative of poor, downtrodden blacks who can’t get a fair shake because of “institutional racism”, “white privilege”, and “microagressions”. We heard all about how Hispanics were all hard-working, law-abiding citizens just here for a better life, a life white America apparently owed every Third World immigrant who wants to live here. They made no mention of the black-on-white crime prevalent in the South; no mention of the blacks who insist on walking down the middle of the street and refuse to move out of the way of cars; nothing about the lurking young black men who strolled between the cars at the Wal-Mart parking lot, looking for trouble; no word of the dozens of illegal Hispanics pulled over for D.U.I. every week (one of them hit and totaled my BMW just a year before, and tried to flee the scene).
My older daughters came home from school with a head full of liberal indoctrination: “All civilizations are the same; all people are equal; every nation thinks it’s exceptional”. The prettiest, most popular girls in school thought it was edgy and cool to date black boys, who went out of their way to pursue my middle daughter. The school dress code was exceedingly strict due to minorities attempting to flaunt gang colors, or girls wearing clothes three sizes too small.
It became clear to me that Kevin Myers was on to something: if home-schooling wasn’t feasible for the time being, we’d have to figure out a way to “insulate” my girls…or perhaps a different way to “isolate” them. Ideally we’d do both.
I fully believe God allows hardships from time to time as a way to “discipline those he loves”, and also to demonstrate His amazing grace. Eventually the economy got better, and my husband got a better job opportunity where we could live anywhere. My oldest daughter graduated from high school this past May. We had nothing tying us down to Atlanta.
Over the summer, we sold everything we owned, including twenty years’ worth of teaching materials, all our furniture, even most of the kids’ toys. We brought just the few things we needed, and moved to Park City, Utah, almost a month ago.
Just a half-hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, Park City is home to the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. It’s a small resort town surrounded by majestic mountains, and every time I step out the door to our rented condo, the breathtaking scenery makes me call out a prayer of thanks to God for His provision.
Best of all, Park City is safe. There’s an excellent, clean, free city bus service that goes all over town, and my kids will regularly hop the bus and ride from one end of town to the other. I don’t give it a second thought. (Yet I don’t know a single person who would EVER ride a MARTA bus back in Atlanta.)
The local high school is a fraction of the size of their old school, and there’s a very high level of mutual trust and respect between the students and faculty. My middle daughter was amazed to discover there was no dress code, as the faculty trusts the students to dress appropriately. The kids are even allowed to leave campus for lunch, which many of them do. There’s no off-duty police sneaking around campus trying to catch students for “sneaking off”.
The local park and playground looks brand-new, even though it’s been there for ten or fifteen years. The vending machines all work and only offer healthy options. There’s no graffiti on anything, the basketball courts have baskets of varying heights for the kids, and the (filtered!) water fountains are free of chewing gum. There’s even a pond just for dogs to jump and swim in, although it freezes over in winter (so kids can play hockey on it).
It sounds like a dream, I know.
The closest park back in Georgia had broken vending machines (kids shoving things other than change in the slots tends to break the machine), gum in the water fountains (not that they work), and graffiti in the restrooms. The local minorities monopolize all the picnic areas as a place to have a free birthday party for their kids, so there’s nowhere shady for parents to sit. Every afternoon around four o’clock, hordes of shirtless black men take over the basketball courts, so no kids could ever dream of using them. The police have officers on bikes patrolling the park, as well as another who drives through the parking lot every half-hour, just to monitor the basketball courts.
As a side note, one suburban county was on the news recently for trying to prevent the Parks Department from installing basketball courts at their local park, simply because they did not want to attract the large numbers of shirtless, sweaty black males who never seem to have anything else to do (like go to work).
Of course, the good taxpayers of that town were accused of being “racist” for wanting to keep their park safe. I don’t know what finally happened with that effort, but hopefully the residents haven’t backed down simply because the liberal media has resorted to calling them the “R word”.
It’s now early October, and my kids are eagerly anticipating the start of ski season. They’re enjoying their new town immensely, and it’s satisfying to me as a parent to be able to sit back and watch as they realize what they’ve been told in school about race, class, and social problems simply doesn’t hold water. It’s not the relative wealth or size of a town that makes the difference. The only difference between Utah and Atlanta is demographics. Where there is a high level of trust and social capital, you find safety, prosperity, and mutual respect for people and property.
In Utah, we CAN have nice things: parks, schools, public transportation. In Atlanta, we can’t. It’s that simple.
I’ll continue to “insulate” my kids as best I can, but there’s something to be said for “isolating” the family as well. If that makes us guilty of participating in White Flight, so be it.