Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'm Raising Them in Decatur, Georgia.

Earlier this summer, we decided it was time to leave our high-rise condo life and seek out our next abode.  When we began our hunt, we couldn't ignore the fact that our next home would (hopefully) be filled with our own little campers.  This can be slightly tricky if you are a city dweller of Atlanta as we are, wish to remain in the city, and desire to send your kids to a good public school.  Sadly, the corruption of Atlanta Public School officials has made national headlines, graduation rates and test scores are low and crime and behaviour problems are high. There are some great neighborhoods in Atlanta and some wonderful elementary schools to go with them.  But by the time most of these children reach high school, their parents enroll them in private school.  We wanted a neighborhood that could carry our kids to their college years.

So what's a would-be young urban family to do?  City of Decatur.  The answer had been pretty obvious from the start.  This gem of a town has gone through tremendous transformation in the last 20 years.  From getting shout-outs in hip hop songs to earning a new reputation for its strategic development.  It is miles from Downtown, has a small town feel with big city amenities.  And the schools are great!  Every school this year ranked "distinguished" on the APY report.  The Washington Post ranked Decatur High #9 in the state (223 in the country) and the system is experiencing unprecedented growth.  Enrollment this year is up 9%, more than what officials projected.

In addition to the good looking numbers and programs, the city of Decatur is progressive in other ways that align with some of our personal values.  They've created farm to school programs that gets locally grown food into the cafeterias.  They've also launched a safe routes to schools program that encourages parents to walk or lead "bike-pools" with their kids to school.  Additionally, there is a ton of transparency and communication between the school administration and the community.  The Decatur High principal has his own blog and the Assistant Superintendent makes himself available for interviews in local neighborhood fliers.

Then there's the testimony of the residents themselves.  Every Decaturite I've met is absolutely and unequivocally passionate about the community.  This place is forward-thinking, big picture seeing, inclusive, and just down-right friendly.  I cannot wait to count myself among them beginning in October!

So, when I have kids, I will be happy to bring them up as Decaturites.