Monday, February 19, 2007

It's the Have's vs. the Have-not's in the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Ball pit...
Water play area...
Front of Union Terminal...."Superfriends Hall of Justice"... (don't you wish?)
Lovely mosaic ...

The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is an amazing educational and family resource. Home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Cincinnati Children's Museum, an Imax Theater, and the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science, along with periodic special exhibits (right now it's TITANIC ARTIFACTS), this place is certainly the public educational resource gem of the city! It used to be the city's train terminal. It was created in the 1930's art deco architectural style and is wonderful just to observe. There are lovely mosaics like the one pictured above throughout the lobby.

Now I happen to be lucky enough to have a family pass to this place (compliments of our employer). To someone out on the economy that would cost $99! Impossible for a lot of Cincinnati's families. Anyhoo, so since I am PRIVILEGED enough to have this pass I go there frequently, about 3x/month. I usually go to the Children's Museum, then we head to the Natural History Museum for the second half of our trip.

The Children's Museum is chock full of activities for small children; an amazing water play area (above); a ball room (above) where the children must use a series of ropes and pulleys and chutes to send the balls to this giant hopper in the ceiling. When it gets full, then an alarm rings and it dumps them all onto the kids! There is a toddler-only area (4 and under) that's fenced off and the preschoolers and babies can play in a sand box, or climb and run and jump on an indoor playground, there are fine-motor games, a dress up tree house with clothes to put on, a couple of different felt boards, and a "parents resource room" where a parent can go in with his/her child to unwind. There is a TON of reading materials in there along with a copy machine! There is a couch, the windows are curtained off, and a sign that says to feel free to close the door and turn off the lights and nap if you want to! How awesome! I'm not nursing a small baby anymore, but it's the perfect place for a tired nursing mom and baby to curl up for a half hour break from the hustle and bustle. Something like this totally can make a hell day out with the baby turn into a great day! "The Farm" also has a musical section, a Lego section, and a ball-rolling track. There are also several other sections in the children's museum but they are too numerous to write about them all. The Woods is the other highlight I guess. This is an indoor playground, which looks like a series of tree houses and tunnels!

The Natural History Museum's big attraction for my family is it's Ice Age exhibit, in particular, the "Ice Cave"/glacier exhibit with all of the statues of the Ice Age animals. My 7-year-old is obsessed with the last Ice Age so this is perfect for him. You can actually walk through this ice cave, and it really looks like you're walking through ice. There is running water and everything! Like every section of this museum, it's really interactive. There are tons of little cards for children to flip and discover facts about the ice age animals. This area really is perfect for 1st graders like my son.

Every time we go on our trip (which like I said is at least 3x/month) I see school buses full of kids coming on school-sponsored field trips. There's a big problem I see with this. I only see white kids at the museum center. NEVER have I seen a bus load full of little black school children!

Isn't Cincinnati a mostly black city? Why aren't there bus loads of black school children coming to the museum center every time I go? Why are there only bus loads full of white school children?

This museum is so incredibly fabulous and the kids who need it the most aren't even given proper access.

Walla, the only time I have seen more than a handful of black citizens in this place was on MLK Day when they had various artisans selling their works in the lobby!

I lived in the Tampa bay area of Florida for 7 years. Now Tampa is a city that is 1/3 white, 1/3 black, and 1/3 Hispanic. We frequented the zoo and the aquarium. There were always bus loads of Hispanic kids, bus loads of black kids, bus loads of white kids, bus loads of everybody coming to these great public educational resources!

Why isn't this happening here in Cincinnati?

Are black children (Cincinnati's "have-nots") so "scary" that their mere presence en masse could cause all of the white patrons (the "have's") not to renew their $99 passes?

There is something severely wrong with what I am seeing.

It is outrageous.

And tragic.

Cincinnati Public Schools; More Evidence of a city with no VISION

I have been trying to define the perimeters of the Covedale Elementary School district in Cincinnati. We love the German-style half-timbered architecture, the neighborhood of Covedale seems quaint, there are children playing outside (gasp! Am I still in America?).

The fact that most house prices are what we want to pay, in the low 100's, also makes this area seem appealing.It seems like a war zone so to speak though, with Price Hill and Carson school district, which The State of Ohio has declared an ACADEMIC EMERGENCY, being just one neighborhood over! I also think the commercial district all along Glenway Avenue is a bit of an eyesore, and there were a few "unmentionables" along the street, not too family-friendly.We are also apprehensive about moving to this area because it's hard to assess if Covedale is on it's way down, in maintenance, or on it's way up towards urban gentrification.Covedale's school ratings are however very good, whereas the CPS district overall is rated very badly, with what we consider to be the kiss of death of for a school district, the "Continuous Improvement" (click here to look up any school district in the state of OHIO) rating.I emailed the Cincinnati Public Schools customer help desk, and told them my story; that we are potential homebuyers in the city of Cincinnati, and if in fact we do decide this spring to buy in the city of Cincinnati proper, it would be in the Covedale Elementary school district. I asked them to please tell me the precise boundaries of the school district, so that we can buy inside of it if we decide this is the neighborhood for us.

This was their response;

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately we are unable to comply with your request in the manner specified. In the CPS district, not only are streets taken into consideration, but house number as well. For instance, two people living right next to each other could be assigned to different schools. If you have a list of streets and address you would like for us to confirm for you, we would be happy to help. If you would like to speak to someone please call: 513-363-0123, or simply put the street and addresses in an email and we will be happy to respond.Thank youCincinnati Public SchoolsCustomer Help Center(513) 363-0123

What insanity! This is utter nonsense! Hogwash and poppycock!

How is anyone ever going to move back into this city?

This is certainly not attracting me, or anyone else for that matter, to want to live in the city limits of Cincinnati.

With something like 11 households per day moving out of the city, and the lowest citizen-to-homeowner ratio of any city in the United States (I can't remember where I read this! I'll look for the citation), I would think everyone working for the city, CPS employees included, would be doing everything possible to attract folks back!

You know, the school reports are listed as public information for a reason; because potential citizens, like us, who are considering moving into a particular area, want to move to the areas with good schools, and not to areas with poorly performing schools.
Isn't this some sort of withholding of what should be public information? Aren't they breaking some sort of law by not giving me this information?

Spoiled rotten girl stomps feet and screams for her candy that she deserves.

The Whistleblower seems to confirm my recent sad conclusions. He had a lovely limerick regarding the mass exodus from Cincinnati;

Here's why everyone's leaving the city, And here's the whole nitty gritty: It's the streets full of grime, And just loaded with crime, From a clown-cil that evokes only pity. Here's why everyone's leaving the city, You don't need a fact-finding committee; Misunderstood urban yoof, Keep raising the roof, Thugs and drugs made the 'Natti un-pretty. Here's why everyone's leaving the city, All the bureaucrats have their hands in the kitty. When a drive-by re-appraisal, Leaves only scraps on your table, What you have left is just itty-bitty.

Racism in Cincinnati

Well, we've been here now since August and my husband and I agree that this is pretty much the most racist place we've ever seen.The racism is so obvious in people, it's sad.

A man I casually chatted with the other day while our children were playing on the same playground exhibited some prime racist statements; he was telling me about "how much better" the city of Indianapolis is for families (WTF! there's NOTHING in Indianapolis! ..Except of course, lots of WHITE people!), and about "how safe" it is there (meaning; lots of white people)and how there is so much more to do downtown Indianapolis than there is downtown Cincinnati for families (nevermind all of the great Christmas festivities on Fountain Square! They don't count because there are black people present I guess).

He then proceeded to tell me that whatever I do, not to live in the city limits of Cincinnati; that there is conflict between the police and City Council, that there aren't enough police officers to fight crime there appropriately, etc. and so forth, and that I'll definitley be better off living in a suburb or in "any town in Northern Kentucky" because each city has it's own police force, own EMT's, own fire squads, etc. (of and there are only white people!) .

He also made some sort of comment about how entitled blacks think they are and that whenever "they" have a problem "they" automatically blame it on the fact they are in fact black and are being discriminated against.

I quickly got myself away from this jerk.

My husband says that the white folks at his place of employement always refer to whomever it is they are referring to not just by his or her name, but they preface their statement with "you know that black (guy/gal) named ______...." WTF? What does the somebody's skin colour or ethnic background have to do with how you identify them? Seriously, something wicked this way comes!

But it gets even more severe. There was a patient who needed to be released. She had nothing but the clothes on her back, seeing as she was admitted as an emergent case in a fire. No house keys, no car etc. Her one relative could not come to pick her up that night, but could do so the following morning. So the social worker was going to release her anyways and send her to the homeless shelter for the night! Outlandish! Luckily for the patient, another staff member intervened, pointing out the fact that this woman was not homeless, she had a home she just didn't have transportation until the morning. 100% chance if this patient had been white the social worker would NEVER have thought to send her to the homeless shelter for the night! But she was black...when probed as to why on earth this would be an appropriate decision, the social worker replied that she "does this all of the time," .

Whoa!I wasn't here for the riots 5 years ago, but apparenlty that set off a serious case of "white flight" from the city limits. Apparenlty now Cincinnati has the lowest home ownership rate of any city in the country (yikes! I hope we don't become another Flint in 10 more years!), and the crime rate per 100,000 people has consistently gone up every year since the riots. The total number of murders is also on the rise, from 40 in the year 2000 up to 79 total murders in 2005.

Luckily for us, the city has set up a lot of programs to help people become homeowners. Let's pray that this year goes well for us, becoming homeowners in the City where Pigs Fly!