Saturday, April 25, 2009

Embracing Suburbia

We are house hunting.

We've owned a townhome for about 5 years. We (of course) bought it when the market was 'red hot'. That means we paid WAY to much for it! Of course... my luck. Anyway, given the current and no doubt long term downswing in the market, we figured we were pretty stuck here for a while. So we weren't even looking at getting a new home... even tho this one feels a bit on the tight side... for a long long long long time.

But we caught the bug.

It started out innocently enough. My dad sent us a link to a news story about a real estate agent who does "house swapping". My hubby called her and she came and chatted with us. She suggested that we consider renting this one out (since the rental market is "red hot".. HA HA) and look into a second home. OK... THIS IS RISKY FOR ME. But, we caught the bug. We looked. Bad idea. Cheap foreclosure houses at rock bottom prices and great quality. It is like a rash that you can't get rid of.

Itch itch itch.

So the hunt has started.

In pursuit, I spent the greater part of the last 2 weeks looking at houses online. Now, here is the rub. I reeeaaalllly want an older, cooler, more hip house in the city. You know, the ones with the great 'bones' and the cool coffeehouse at the end of the block. The progressive hippie-wanna-be neighbors and ultra-hip cool parents wandering the streets. THAT neighborhood.

But therein lies the rub. Because those ultra-hip-cool neighborhoods are also in the city with marginal schools. And the 'good' schools are in neighborhoods well outside our price range. And with our boy... and who knows WHAT needs he might have come kindergarten.... we have to go where good schools meet bargain basement prices.

We must live in SUBURBIA.

We have lived there for a while, to be sure. But that is not my dream. Strip malls and soccer moms and commuting and minivans. Sooooo not my dream. My hubby loves it.... big yard, big basement for his big TV, big 3 car garage for all his 'man-stuff'. His dream of dreams. Not mine.

But life is full of compromises and this is one I guess I am making.

However, if I am going to compromise for my family, then I want to make sure that what we get (especially for Jonathan) is perfect. And that means excellent schools. But how does one find out what are the good schools, especially for special needs kids?

Well, it isn't easy.

I called the Department of Education for the State of Minnesota. Yes, I did. I spoke to a woman in the Special Education division and basically asked her... given we can move anywhere... where the best schools are for a special needs boy (specifically speech delayed)? Here is a summary of her answer:

" All of our schools need to be in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and IDEA. If your son has it written in his IEP, then it needs to happen. If it doesn't, or you can't get what you think he needs, then you can call us for advocacy and mediation".

Sure. Thanks for the PC answer. Don't get me wrong, I am sure she HAD to say all that. But the problem is that I CAN be a good advocate and WILL call them if we can't get what he needs. THAT is not what I am asking. The truth is... if there is a school or a district that already has their shit together, then why should I choose to go to one that doesn't? Like I need MORE battles?! I understand that all the schools are suppose to comply. But there is a distinct difference between the ideal world and the real world. The truth is some districts have more money or better people and programs. Other districts place their focus elsewhere. THAT is the real world.

Oh well, the hunt will continue.



Tahna said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. I LOVE that PC answer, like it's so easy to ensure your child will have a good IEP and it will be followed.
If you get in a crappy school, how are you going to make sure they're doing what they are supposed to? Camp out in his classroom everyday? Yeah, that'll go well.
Hire lawyers to make the school give your child an education? I've heard of a few parents who've done that, and even if they won, they lost (the relationship with the school after that to say the least)
I don't know Pia, can you find some kind of support groups and ask around them? The parents are the only ones who will give you an honest answer. Everyone else has their jobs to protect.

Cathy M. said...

Hey - any chance you are looking south of the river? :) said...

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