My family and I moved up here from Pottsville, PA almost 7 years ago. We decided on the city of Niagara Falls partly because of the price of housing, along with while stationed at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Buffalo from February, 1986 till November, 1991 we became fond of the area (Where else can you get great pizza and wings?).
The house we bought is slowly looking better then it was when we bought it. Lately we've been thinking of an addition. The big question was, "Are we going to stay in this house long enough to make it worth it?" There are a lot of pro's to staying here, cheap mortgage, taxes aren't bad in comparison to suburbs, close to everything, and the biggies, nice neighborhood and we like our neighbors. But when we got to the cons guess which one stuck out. Sure there's the crime, roads, noise and poorly run government, but isn't all government? A rottwieller and cleaning several guns on the front porch keeps the crime away (it's good to be a redneck), the roads and noise you get use too. But school quality is the deal breaker.
Most of our friends have children and live in the suburbs or country. They all say the city is nice for the reasons I've mentioned, and compared to where they live the property taxes are low (but still to high). When the subject of living in the city comes up most of them would like to. The very next sentence though is, "But the schools are bad." It's not only our friends either, most of the people at work say the same thing. When parents look for a place to raise their children what's at the top of the list? This is why it's so hard for me to understand how those who represent the poor and others that live in cities continually vote no for vouchers or even tax credits.
This last attempt really gave us some hope, alas to no avail, again the politicians were bought off. I know someone that deals with a lot of teachers and officials within the public school system were she works. Most of them, she says hated the idea of a tax credit. With a smirk, she said they send their kids to private schools though.
I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me if parents had a choice on where they could send their kids to school, they'd be more willing to move into the city. All the bells and whistles will not entice parents to put their kids in bad schools. So they stay in the suburbs. You say they're not that bad, then why do the teachers that work in them send theirs elsewhere?
The most shocking is that the so-called leaders and speakers for the "poor" continue to force the poor into substandard schools. It would make a suspicious person ask what or who do they really work for? They continue to demand more money for a system that continually shows its inability to improve. Only in government is failure rewarded with more money.
City officials, who are serious about improving the quality of life within it, need to realign their priorities. All the government housing and programs for the poor will not help, only by attracting the middleclass will you see any REAL economic improvement. The number one concern of middleclass families is education for their children. You want to fix the city, give the middleclass a reason to come here. You get the middleclass to live here and they will bring a "market" with them. The bells and whistles you've been using for several decades aren't working. Try what Cleveland did or maybe one of the ideas mentioned at The Friedman Foundation . But then whom do you work for, the majority of residents or the School System and it's members? Let the parents weigh the pros and cons and decide about school chioce, but give "them" the choice.
My wife and I have a little more then two years to decide, give us a choice.