school districts and money

This map is fascinating:

Looking at it, you might think it was a rough map of income levels in Austin. Actually it’s the school district map. It’s fascinating how you can actually see the tendrils of gentrification stretching into east austin. Plucking out the water front views and academic residences. And the tendrils shooting the other way, pulling in the centralized apartment ghettos. The hook in District 6 that extracts the sub-200k houses from district 7. I wish I could find the historical maps on this one. I think it would probably be a fascinating look at gentrification.

I read this Statesman article over the weekend that talks about the destruction of some of the final cheap apartments with waterfront views. Frankly, I can’t be that sympathetic to those people. I used to live in apartments around there and I was constantly trying to figure out how one got one of those sweet super-cheap water-front apartments. But it will be interesting to see if that tendril from District 6 will stretch over to grab the rest of the south east town lake shore line in the future.

Paul Burka had a really interesting article on the changing demographics of Texas recently. It’s especially interesting when taken in context with our school systems. If you look at the “good schools” in Austin ISD you’ll see that they’re the schools that are majority white. But if you look at the changing demographics of our state it’s obvious that these “good schools” are not sustainable. And are in fact undesirable. We’re creating a very strong delineation between the upper and lower middle classes. And all the publicly available statistics on race, income, and test scores cement these delineations through real estate prices. I strongly believe that real estate is the strongest bastion of racism in the US today. And it’s so innocuous. It’s much easier for even the most liberal multi-culturally minded potential home buyer to say that a school with 87% of the kids getting free or reduced lunches has a negative effect on property values, than it is to say that a school with 96% minority students has a negative effect on property values.

What are we going to do if the majority of the US cannot sustain itself? Especially with the retirement of the Baby Boomers looming. We’re going to have some massive bills to pay in the future if we don’t make some investments today.

That said, I actually got really excited for Stella over the weekend. My guess is that she’s going to grow up learning a lot of Spanish. And that’s a very cool opportunity. It’s hard to stretch out from the communities we’re used to. I spent the entire 2 years I was in the Soviet Union inside. Learning nothing about the culture. I know only a few words in Russian. 1 in Kazakh.

I think it’s too easy to live in our own mono-cultures, and it’s very hard to step outside of them. I don’t think it’s just racism. I think we’re still very much programmed for tribalism. What are suburbs if not medieval fiefdoms with their localized governments (HOAs) and walls and moats? So hopefully this new house will be a chance to step outside of the world we’ve been inhabiting.

I was talking to an actor friend during the run of Little Murders, and one of his guesses about why we were having such poor turnout was gas prices. Which shocked me because I’ve become somewhat immune to gas prices (public transport, single car with high mpg). And it made me realize that I need to get out more, and talk to people who aren’t software developers living in suburban houses with a Volkswagen or Subaru out front.

Anyway, enough of that. We had a delightful time with Stella over thanksgiving. She’s been in a great mood. Incredibly free with smiles, hugs, and kisses. We’d kind of noticed that she seemed a lot taller recently. She lost a lot of weight during her vomiting spell, so I think the height change snuck up on us. She just looked tall and skinny. But now that she’s got her blub back we’ve realized that she’s quite a bit taller. We helped The Holmes and Yer Mamma move this weekend and Stella is now officially taller than their son. Which is not surprising. Julie and I are taller than his parents. But it seemed like the official start of our child becoming the giraffe we knew she would be. She’s starting to get the height to match those Thomas feet. It’s fun to watch. Hopefully she’ll be more graceful in her growing than I was.