Moving to a new city thrills me. During our first week in Fresno in January 2015, we ate at three different taquerias to help acclimate ourselves. We received endless invitations from hospitable Well families to share meals together. Exploring our new home and investing in this city was the priority. We immediately got a Chaffee Zoo membership and a City parking pass.
Our love for investing in Fresno has not changed in the last year. We devour spicy pork burritos at the Gazebo Gardens food trucks and support other local businesses. We bought our first house and are settling into being settled. Our free time is devoted to parenting, house projects (neither of these, I'm told, are finite), and building community with others.
As we dream about our future in Fresno, we look forward to having consistent friendships. I long for our kids to grow knowing the same kids and seeing us do life with other parents.
And here – right here – as I was typing this, my phone rang. It was a friend calling to fill me in on a meeting that occurred with some families who attend Fig that past weekend. All these families are struggling with the same questions Chris and I are, and their solution really blew my mind.
You see, all of us are in the same boat, but seem to be out floating all alone. We all have little ones growing before our eyes. Keeley is almost 4. The questions buzzing around me are numerous: Where will she go to school? What if she doesn't get in? What if our other friends applying to the same school don't get in? Sending our daughter to a school with zero families we know sounds terrifying.
Do we send her to a neighborhood school, or charter? Do we shoot for the lottery for the popular downtown charter (or chill on the 80-person waitlist) in hopes that she will be chosen and her strengths may be magnified there? It's exhausting being at the mercy of school lotteries, and some schools don't have any guarantee that younger siblings will be accepted.
Do we invest in our neighborhood school, even though the test scores may be lower, so that we are immersing ourselves into the colorful culture of Fresno? Is there a price you can put on engaging Fresno's diverse culture head-on and thus gaining sympathy for those who are less privileged?
"Well," my friend said, "these questions were how this conversation got started. Instead of being at the mercy of these schools with no guarantee of enrollment, what if we, as a group of families, take a more missional approach?"
“I'm hooked. Tell me more.”
I hope you are too. Check out Part 2 of this series to read how our families will band together and tackle this debacle.