"I understand that young families have moved into the neighborhood because living next to gangbanger wannabe's and crack dealers is apparently the hip thing to do nowadays (i.e. Highland Park)..."
Oh Drewcifer you smug person you - it has never been hip to be poor or working-class when you're looking at Americans through elitist colored glasses. However it has always been hip to work for a living, live modestly and within your financial means and intermingle with people who are not like you.
Like all neighborhoods, we have crime, but not as much as you may think. We have a strong neighborhood watch and I think you would be surprised at how aggressive our Neighborhood Watch pursues criminals from crime to incarceration. Our neighborhood watch fb page is filled with court dates, police reports and mugshots. But I don't have to legitimize to you, you have already written off a couple hundred people as being "undesirable."
Don't confuse an entire neighborhood of decent, honest hard-working citizens with a handful of "gangbanger wannabes" who need solid, quality educational intervention now more than ever!
Why does that map not show Red Bank Elementary and Red Bank Middle? Because the map would have to be much bigger to show the great distance those schools are from Hill City - but it would provide the much needed perspective.
So are you telling me low-income neighborhoods can't be zoned for quality neighborhood schools because people might move into the neighborhood so as to get better educational opportunities for their children? Think about that for a minute. That is what happened to the Normal Park zone east of N. Market St and Dallas. So it's okay if it happens over there but not over here? So affordable housing and quality education are mutually exclusive - Is this what Chattanoogans value?
The irony is the relationship this article has with the other article Ms. Putman wrote in this issue: 'Leaders Say Community Should Reach Out to Youth'....because that is what this community is doing!!! Rep. Brown said "young blacks must be convinced that this city belongs to them, just as it belongs to every other resident. They also must have access to jobs and the hope of a better future." And access to quality community schools within walking distance that allow children from low-income neighborhoods the opportunity for solid early childhood education, and the opportunity to stay at school and participate in after-school programs, sports, reading-intervention, and mentoring.
I've been up and down Spears Ave talking to residents and black families certainly do not feel as though they are stakeholders in this city - neither do white families in this working-class neighborhood. Residents on Spears Ave have been pushed outside of the zone for the community school one mile away and sent to elementary and middle schools over 5 miles away in the city of Red Bank which is not accessible by public transportation - some parents can't participate at the school. Also, four years ago Spears Ave was scraped in preparation for repaving. At the same time the city was telling residents on Spears Ave there wasn't any money to repave Spears Ave, crews were hard at work repaving Barton Ave.
These problems do have solutions and they begin with doing away with the existence of "Two Chattanoogas." There needs to be a stronger overall effort to create unity and community healing.
In my opinion, this article does not fully communicate the breadth of the information provided to the public at the Hill City community meeting. After paying $330 for an Open Records Request to the Hamilton County Department of Education, community leaders in Hill City acquired a large amount of enrollment data specific to Normal Park. Considering that the school board voted in 2007 to include Hill City in 2010 one has to wonder - where was the implementation plan and whom was responsible for the failure? Well, it's all in the data. Please visit our blog to view the records request, the response from HCDE and our analysis of the data.