A new resident, hailing from Eagle Rock, was complaining to a grocer about the schools in Santa Clarita. The meeting she attended the night before, possibly at Stevenson Ranch elementary, ran until 10:30. She had missed the ending because her kids had to be in bed by 8PM but she seemed to have no doubt that she was screwed. She had decided by 8PM that she might have made a mistake in pulling up roots to move out here.
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I feel for her. I really do. I just moved to a nicer neighborhood that promised a better elementary than the one I left behind but after reading the scores in The Signal this week I may have been off by a few points. Just a few.
I reminded myself, in a hurry, that a couple of points, a bus ride to a lesser crowed school and the never-ending lack of infrastructure still put us more than a few points ahead of what other southern California communities had to offer.
All I knew about Santa Clarita was what I had heard: police officers and firefighters parked their families out here because it was safe. When Ed and I moved here as newlyweds we never thought about the school system, admittedly we had pretty much decided on no kids. We were too young to appreciate open space. We longed for a mall, a Benihana’s restaurant and at least one place to dance. So, before that changed, fifteen years passed, and we came to enjoy Santa Clarita for what it had promised us.
Acutely less crime than the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles neighborhoods we had no trouble leaving behind after over twenty-five years. My police officer friends warned me that the parking lot my gym was located in wasn’t safe, Richard Ramirez was busy breaking into my mother-in-law’s next door neighbor’s bedroom and if that wasn’t enough there had been two shootings around the corner from my sister’s house across from our old high school.
Yes there’s less open space and crowded schools than there were twenty years ago. But I believe that it’s still a hell of a lot safer than any of the alternatives in southern California. And the little ripples of violence that forced me to float my boat this way happened twenty years ago. It’s certainly gotten worse over the hill in that time. And were not just talking about less space in schools.
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I like the neighborhood watch sign adorning my new street and look forward to meeting more of my neighbors. The few that I’ve met have been on this street longer than I have been in Santa Clarita. They were attracted to the schools and open spaces but also to the safety, quiet, remoteness, the smell of pine trees, cull de sacs, different shaped lots and sturdy, rustic, older houses. One neighbor did say that he sends his teenaged daughter to a private high school in Northridge because of his experiences with the school system here. You know what I say to that: Great! At least he’s taking the responsibility to have his child educated in the way he wants. He’s not reactive, he’s proactive.
We can hope that the next round of council members vote the way we want to, we can complain about it, heck, we can even move out of the whole darn neighborhood to seek higher ground. The point is it’s up to you.
But don’t forget that Santa Clarita offers more than great schools. It offers a safe haven to all of us that, in two years or twenty, may need to be reminded what we left behind. And how the rewards are here for us to reap. Only we can decide how.
Eve- don’t kill me for getting political-Bushman