About six years ago my family and I moved from Bell, California to Moreno Valley, California. We were looking to lower our housing cost and found Moreno Valley to be much cheaper. We made the move without knowing anyone and started from scratch.
Researching the schools in the area was a priority for my husband and me, since our son would be entering fifth grade and our daughter would be entering kindergarten when we moved. I used GreatSchools.org as a guide to start my research and found most of the schools in Moreno Valley were rated at a 5 and below that time. I was saddened to learn the public schools in the Moreno Valley district ranked very low for several years and knew that I would not be sending my children to those schools.
I wanted to find a good school for my children. My son had been an excellent student who had maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout elementary, and my daughter would be beginning her educational journey. I wanted them to be part of a successful environment where they would be challenged and supported, not a school were data reported underperformance for several years.
As I continued my research, I found Valverde School District to be a better option for my children. A few of my new neighbors suggested I should check out their schools. The commute to the schools at the Valverde School District was 25 minutes each way. For four years, we had to wake up at least two hours before school started in order to get to school on time. This also meant that we would be spending more on gas. Keep in mind, we had moved to lower the cost of living. But we weighed the importance of education and made the decision as a family to enroll our kids into Valverde School District.
My son finished middle school in the Valverde School District, but once it was time to go to high school, I felt like we were back to square one. The high school that my son would be attending did not have a good reputation. Other parents shared that the school rivalry was out of control and that there was racism among African-American and Latino students. They also shared that teachers were disengaged.
However, I didn’t want to only judge by word-of-mouth information so I allowed him to visit the school several times. There was something about the environment that did not sit well with him either. Two weeks after visiting Rancho Verde High School, there was a football game between two schools, and at the end of the game, there was a shooting where several students were injured and one died. At that point, my husband and I decided to look for another option because it was necessary to move our children out of the district once more.
We found good schools in Riverside, but the distance from Moreno Valley is close to 40 minutes one way. We switched school districts once again. For the last two years, we have been waking up even earlier than before and all so that my children can attend schools where they can obtain an acceptable education.
The challenge does not stop at the forty minute commute or lack of sleep my children are experiencing, we also have had to rearrange homework time and dinner setting. This is because both of my kids have a passion for Mixed Martial Arts, and they are part of gym where they practice a couple of days a week. Since the gym they practice at is in Riverside, near their school, I normally pack their after-school meal with me and after I pick them up from school, we find somewhere to eat, whether it be at a park or somewhere somewhat enjoyable. They also start on their homework during this spare time.
So this daily routine of leaving our home at 6:50 AM to arrive to school on time and returning home at 6:30 PM for dinner leaves the children exhausted. And sometimes after school, they get to go for a swim or have to finish more homework when we get home.
It is difficult and exhausting to have this routine, and as a mother, it breaks my heart to see their fatigue and anger. My children would love to be able to go home right after school and rest for a bit before going onto the next activity.
I tell them that all sacrifices have their rewards, that life is a constant struggle, and that we have to keep pushing, with hopes that the future will bring better days and abundant opportunities.
I know there are countless families who are taking their kids to other districts or better schools, driving the distances, spending more on gas, eating out, and having less free time. To me, what’s most sad is sacrificing true family quality time. And I am pretty sure that other families are all doing it for the same reasons we are. We want to help our children succeed in life, we want them to have an opportunity to compete when it’s time to apply to universities, we want them to graduate with a degree of their choice and see their dreams come true.
If only all schools were performing at successful rates, the struggles wouldn’t be so hard. As parents, we could focus on other things to help our kids, such as enrichment courses, tutoring sessions, or simply family bonding time.
I commend all the parents making sacrifices for their children’s education, and at the same time, I encourage them to never stop supporting and fighting for what is best for them.
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