We keep thinking about moving, in a vague sort of way that mostly involves looking at tons of MLS listings and learning more and more about what terms are instant red flags (“cozy,” “handyman’s dream”, “perfect MIL/rental opportunity!”). It’s not that we’re totally unhappy with our current house or yearn for the wonderful experience of trying to sell it, but we keep wondering if this might be one of those golden times to buy — to take advantage of the market and get into something that will accrue more value over the years than our current home will. Would that be the right thing for us to do? I have no answer to that question, really, only the idea that if we saw something really great, it would be definitely worth our while to investigate, so we should at least be keeping an eye on what’s out there right now.

With regards to location I’m trying to balance all these different factors like our commutes, the quality, availability, and cost of daycare in whatever location we end up in, the fact that both of us are reluctant to find new gyms, and the need for a drive-through Starbucks within at least one (1) mile. Oh, and schools. Right: SCHOOLS.

Everyone I talk to seems highly opinionated about schools, and I feel like a total slacker parent because I have no real idea how to judge the value of a school aside from whether or not it is actively engulfed in flames and/or littered with needles. I mean, I know there are websites where you can see student/teacher ratios and WASL scores and things like that, but is that all people are going on? Is there some secret body of knowledge that I am missing? What makes a school good? What makes a school bad?

I guess the Responsible Forward-Thinking Thing to Do when it comes to moving involves picking your desired schools first, then branching outward to find houses that are within the right district or whatever, but I’m not even sure how to go about doing this. Like, choose schools with the highest test scores? Because that somehow ENSURES your kid is going to be smart, or something?

The school thing makes me a little defensive, I guess, because there’s always going to be a school that’s “better” than the one your kid is going to, you know? A while back I had someone criticize the schools our kids will be going to if we don’t move and I was like, huh. I totally didn’t realize I should be freaking out about this, but maybe that’s because one of my kids still gets scared by a cartoon elephant on Curious George while the other routinely chokes on pine needles he eats off the floor, so right now it’s kind of hard for me to imagine a 5% test score difference having a massive impact on their intellectual future.

What do you think? Do you have a School Strategy, or do you figure the one that’s closest to your house will do just fine, or what?

Comments

90 Responses to “Edumacation”

  1. Donna on March 30th, 2009 12:33 am

    Dude, pick the one that goes on the most field trips. Win!

  2. sarah on March 30th, 2009 5:07 am

    This is absolutely something we (I) think of. We moved into our house in 2003 after getting dazzled by the model houses and the builder’s claim of a great school district (say, how about we check those claims ourselves? no?). Son was born in 2007. We have since found the schools are ok up till middle school, then people seem to recoil in horror at the thought of staying in these schools. Given that the house across the street has been for sale (at less than paid) for 3+ years, I figure we’d have to put our house up for sale now in order to ensure our 2 year old has a happy high school life? Thing is, the ‘good’ school district isn’t something we can afford to move to anyway.
    I am very torn on this – my parents always made sure we lived in a decent school district, and I feel I’m failing my child. Not sure what the answer is.

  3. Kristin H on March 30th, 2009 5:28 am

    Hm…just to keep it interesting, I’ll mention homeschooling. My daughter starts kindergarten next year. We can’t afford for either my husband or I to quit working while we homeschool, so I plan to continue working part-time.

    But we might not homeschool forever, and if I do ever need to choose a school system, I am of the camp that believes kids get out of it what they put into it, and parental involvement makes a big difference.

  4. Zoot on March 30th, 2009 5:43 am

    Let me tell you my story that proves sometimes it doesn’t matter.

    1st-4th grade my son went to the public school in town that looked the best on paper. Best test scores, best teachers, most money in the PTA, etc. He struggled for all four years. It was a very trying time for all of us.

    5th grade we moved and he switched to a school that looked kinda bad on paper. So bad we thought about trying to keep him at the other school. BUT – here’s the key – he befriended some really smart kids in the gifted type classes and suddenly? Like…overnight? He started doing well in school. Having that peer pressure seemed to do the trick.

    He’s now an 8th-grader with strong A/B student who sometimes falters and gets a C. Which is a long way from the C/D sometimes faltering to an F.

    In other words? Sometimes it doesn’t matter.

    How’s that for optimism!

  5. Violet on March 30th, 2009 5:43 am

    One thing to keep in mind is that things are changing pretty fast right now in educational quality. We were not overly concerned about where we bought our house, only that it was in a county that had one of the highest ratings in the country for schools, so we wanted to be anywhere in that county. But since then, with budget cuts, class sizes have increased, programs have been cut… who knows what other changes will be made by the time my 3-yr old and baby will be in school. They we hoping to expand to all-day kindergarten, but I believe that has been scrapped as well. So even if you research and the school has a great track record, that is not an iron-clad guarantee of future performance in these economic times. Not to be negative – good teachers may decide that if the salaries are equvalent in Detroit and Seattle, they will go where they like the view better. :)

  6. Red on March 30th, 2009 5:46 am

    We just closed on our first place on Thursday and went through the same thing. I work for an education association too so the pressure to live in a decent school neighborhood was high. We live in a highly diverse area so one of the things I looked at were the ration of ESOL kids to English-first speakers. Particularly in elementary school, if there is a higher ratio of ESOL kids in a class, the teacher will have to spend more time on language instruction (unless they do pull-out). Admittedly, all kids in that age range could use the extra practice, but in my mind it takes away from the time to do other things (fine arts, anyone?). I also went to those websites and looked at parent feedback and test scores, and also went to the school’s websites and profile pages and looked at test scores, special programs (Gifted program? Full time kindergarten?), and the “information” page about the school. If the principal’s message is all about getting test scores up and focusing on the core subjects, then you know the school has a problem overall with those things. If the principal talks about partnerships with the community and the kids participation in the school garden and outdoor activities, then you know that either the principal is a flake, or test scores and core subjects aren’t an issue.
    You should have seen the massive spreadsheet I started out with for all of this, but by the time I was done, we were able to narrow our focus to about 6 neighborhoods instead of 30. It helped a lot and we lucked out and found our place the second weekend we were out looking. It met the unique set of critera involving commutes, daycare, school, affordabilty, neighborhood, shopping, and diy home improvement.
    Good luck! It IS a great time to buy!

  7. Christine on March 30th, 2009 6:33 am

    Absolutely no words of advice on school and I wish you the best of luck w/ whatever you decide to do moving wise. It does seem like a great time to buy!

    (As an aside, if you haven’t put it on your list of things to rent, get to you queue of choice immediately and add “Let the Right One In.” I think it’s right up your alley. I thought it was excellent. And after “King of Kong” I figured I should return the favor and pass on a recommendation.)

  8. pam on March 30th, 2009 6:45 am

    well. new orleans (where i live) has awful, awful public schools. we can’t afford catholic schools (this is a very catholic city, so that’s kind of the first obvious choice for everyone, even some non-catholics) even though my husband works for one, so we won’t be sending them there (and for other reasons too.) but there are good charter schools here, so that’s my goal. fortunately, you don’t have to live in a certain “district” to go to one, just in the right parish (think county.) it’s just a matter of applying to a bunch of them and crossing our fingers, i think. (charter schools are free.)

    our main issue has more to do with triplets. getting all three in to the same school, and hopefully one with three classes for each grade, so they can be in separate classes, esp when they get older.

  9. Valerie on March 30th, 2009 6:55 am

    One thing I would suggest you do is check out different schools’ “incident reports.” This records things like suspensions, expulsions, and often breaks down incidents by the type of offense. I’m from Virginia, but I’m sure you guys have something comparable. As a former teacher I can promise you that information like that will give you a good picture of what the school is like, beyond test scores.

  10. Nolita Morgan on March 30th, 2009 6:57 am

    We thought we were in the right school district when our daughter was 2 and we were getting ready to build a home on the outskirts of a college town. So when we found out that we were in the WRONG district (not very diverse) we chucked the building plans and decided to move into town. School district and commute were the main factors for the move. We talked with friends from pre-k and co-workers to find out which schools were desirable and which to avoid. We looked at schools close to the university and pulled up their stats too. We wanted our daughter to be in a very diverse school that took advantage of everything the university offered, so we decided on the school closest to campus. We drove around the neighborhoods close to the school and found our home…Of course it’s next door to a rent house for college students, but at least now there are girls next door and not frat boys! Emi’s school is very small with lots of parental involvement and the football parking commissions ensure that we don’t have to hawk a lot of stuff for the kiddo to raise money for the school. And most of our neighbors are cool professor types and grad students so the whole family is exposed to different cultures. In Oklahoma it’s really easy to research neighborhood values and crime as these records are all public record and online …very handy! This move really upped the quality of our lives and plugged us into a great community. Where we used to live we never saw our neighbors and were fine with that. Now, many of our neighbors are close friends and we even have the mayor in the neighbor hood watch we started a couple of years ago. So glad we moved! We have more time for family and also more involvement with the community… I wish the same for you! Good luck!

  11. Korinna on March 30th, 2009 7:13 am

    Ach–using the word “strategy” makes it appear as if Husband and I know what we’re doing.

    Our reality is that our particular public schools aren’t so hot. Or diverse.

    We’ve decided to look for private schools where it’s not all upper middle class Whitey Fords (which was my K-12 experience), but rather a combination of different types of people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

    We shall see…

  12. Kristen on March 30th, 2009 7:34 am

    I’m a former teacher; I taught mostly at a pretty good (IB program, OK test scores, OK 4-year college acceptance rates) high school And, in my opinion, the most important factor in whether a kid will succeed or not is his or her parents. A parent that is active and cares about the kid’s education will work to make sure the kid gets the “good” teachers or, barring that, will help the kid power through a “bad” teacher. You can get the kid into teh awesomest school EVAR, but then you don’t sit back and let nature take its course. On the other hand, if you get stuck with a teacher that doesn’t meet your standards, you can read with your kid, go to museums, etc. I think people overestimate the importance of schools and underestimate the importance of parents.

  13. Swistle on March 30th, 2009 7:42 am

    This is so funny. We had no idea about schools, either. We just sort of nodded at everything the realtor said.

  14. Tara on March 30th, 2009 7:57 am

    I did a cursory glance at the scores & such for schools in our area when we bought our house (4 years pre-kid), but honestly, I think our son’s success or lack thereof will have more to do with what he brings to the table, and the support he gets from us, than the school itself. And as several others have noted, the right teacher can make all the difference, regardless of a school’s ranking, but you can find some amazing teachers at some otherwise unimpressive schools (I know, because I had some incredible teachers, and I did NOT go to the best schools, trust me!).

  15. St on March 30th, 2009 8:14 am

    We need to move as we’ve outgrown our tiny house (782 sq ft, 3 kids – no joke) and now I’m freaking out about schools. I have NO IDEA where to go! I keep feeling like I’m making to big a deal of it but then I get all freaked out again. Some of these comments are not helping!

  16. Jennifer on March 30th, 2009 8:56 am

    Maybe I’m a horrible parent too, but I’m not too worried either. I know the schools around me are reasonably good, and in my opinion it is the parents that is far more important than the school.

  17. Cara on March 30th, 2009 9:02 am

    I think there are certainly some schools that are truly awful, but the ones that are usually rated as “exceptional” in my state are just the ones that got high test scores and have a lower student/teacher ratio. I don’t think that those criteria are really enough to show whether a school is good or not.

    I’ve always believed that which school a child attends is only a part of their education equation. Extracurricular enrichment activities to which their parents expose them play a huge role too. Plus, general parental involvement in a child’s education is huge. My mom helped me study for almost every test I had in junior high and high school and she paid attention to how I was doing on my homework. I wasn’t a straight A student by any means, but I don’t think I would have done nearly as well in school if my parents had just let me be totally responsible for it all.

  18. Shawna on March 30th, 2009 9:08 am

    There are very few private schools here in Canada; almost everyone sends their kids to public school. That having been said though, I’d definitely move houses to put my kids in a good school that fits them well when they’re older (and I mean “I would”, not “everyone should”), even if I wouldn’t worry about it so much for grade school.

  19. Secret on March 30th, 2009 9:31 am

    It doesn’t really matter. School leadership shifts, as does funding and school goals.

    I work in education and the biggest indicator of student success is involved parenting. (And money, though I suspect that the two are related in that wealthier families tend to have at least one parent present in the home to better care for children.)

    I work for a local suburban Seattle district and you should be fine. Just be sure to have high standards, help your kid learn, and the whole thing should be cake.

    On the other hand, I was a highly capable child and went from public school to a very prestigious university and in retrospect I think that I would have done better in a more challenging private school environment. Which is what I would do if I had a child.

    Either way, going to a moderately less challenging grade school will not ruin everything forever. Just pay attention and intercede on your child’s behalf if needed.

  20. MichelleH on March 30th, 2009 9:32 am

    I come from the perspective of going to horrible schools. When my baby was born in September, I signed up for a bunch of newsletters about school ratings and discovered the schools I went to ranked a 4 out of 10. There are lot of very successful people out there who went to my high school and went on to graduate from Ivy League schools (not that I’m one of them, but oh well). I guess my point is, it’s 99.9999% the parents influence that determines what the kid gets out of school. My parents were very involved in my education and my mom actually went in and requested certain teachers for me (mostly in grade school). You and JB are smart and invested in your kids’ futures. They will be fine. Much, much better than fine-because of you two. For my kid, my plan is to look at the school rating based on test scores and parent opinion as as start then visit the school and sit in on a few classes if they will let me. The tests scores don’t tell much, I think. What I will be looking for is: curriculum, teachers rapport/effectiveness with the kids, classroom size, safety of the environment. Just think about what is important to you in the school and don’t worry about what Judgy McJudgykins (the mascot for all who would judge your choice or make smug comments about test scores)thinks. We have to do the best we can with what’s available and you will. I don’t think any school will have everything you want-I’m just looking for the closest thing I can find.

  21. spacegeek on March 30th, 2009 10:13 am

    Okay so we seriously value education in my house. DH and I both have post-graduate degrees. College is expected in our home and was in our homes growing up. So we’re in that mode of parenting to set the stage. DH’s parents have both been elementary school teachers his entire life and finished their 30+ years of teaching with kindergarten classes and reading coaches. So picking a home with an excellent public school system was key to our housing search, in all instances (we’re on our 4th home, and I want to stay in this house until I die).
    So, yeah, I think it is very important.

  22. Emme on March 30th, 2009 10:36 am

    I’v’e not read all the advice above so pardon if I repeat and I won’t even get into all the things you could look for in schools but one thing I do want to point out is that for elementary schools it is important that your kids are getting equal attention from the teacher – in some school systems that just isn’t possible. When the class is say 40% english as a second language – that can create alot of ‘dead’ time for your child who is more than likely well on his way to reading much less understanding the language. Think about demographics – it is important. I was very lucky that my elementary demos was very similar to us – student body diversificationt came in middle school but by then my kids had such a good foundation grade 1-5 that I didn’t worry so much – they knew what to do and how to go about it without needing the teacher to pay them as much attention.

  23. Amber S on March 30th, 2009 10:53 am

    Check out

    http://www.greatschools.net

    http://www.schooldigger.com

    I used both sites to narrow down our neighborhood search when moving. They both proved to be pretty accurate in my opinion.

  24. Laura on March 30th, 2009 12:14 pm

    Interestingly enough, my husband and I just had a discussion (minor scuffle) over this same subject yesterday. My plan is the neighborhood Catholic school; his idea is to do a lot of research and find the best school with the best programs for our son. His actual plan is to wait until the last minute and then realize he didn’t do anything about it, so we’ll go with my plan instead. But I’m not blindly going with the neighborhood school. I’m going to research it before we commit – teacher/student ratio, programs, activities, etc. But my kid isn’t quite 1 yet, so I’m not in a terrific rush. I don’t even know for certain that we’ll be in the same house when he’s ready to start school. Provided there are no special concerns, my theory is that most schools truly are perfectly fine, but we as parents have to stay involved in the entire experience. Just not so involved that everyone hates us and inadvertently takes it out on our children.

  25. Trina on March 30th, 2009 12:15 pm

    Dude, you live in Bellevue! You can’t go wrong! The Bellevue school district is like #9 in the country. Unless you are planning on private school (if you move to this side of the lake) stay in Bellevue. The only thing better as far as public schools go in this area is Mercer Island (from what I hear). I wouldn’t worry about it unless you move to Seattle then you should research the neighborhoods and the schools because that makes a big difference over here.

  26. monkey on March 30th, 2009 12:32 pm

    Ooh, someone mentioned greatschools.net. I looked up my old high school there (one of the fanciest public schools in Massachusetts) and was flabbergasted by the fact that even though it was rated 10/10 by the site that (not surprising) the reviews were page after page of people complaining about how the school is so competitive and the kids are “too smart” and the parents are “too involved”. I’ll be honest, the whole thing felt like a giant not-so-subtle slam at the the town’s changing demographics from the 80s through the 90s to today (first it went Jewish and then Asian). Then there was lots of snark from control-freak parents about the fact that it’s open campus (they don’t monitor the kids!), set up like a small college (kids allowed too much choice!) and “too liberal” (birth control!) whatever that means. And I say that as a moderate conservative raised by Republicans.

    So to sum up, people say anything on the internet, so I’d go with your gut.

  27. Leah on March 30th, 2009 1:45 pm

    Our school strategy at this point is called Ignore and Deny. The local schools here are quite literally in the ghetto, and aside from worrying about what kind of education my kid would get there, I worry about what kinds of friends he would make and, more specifically, what kind of homes he would be invited to have sleepovers at. That’s where the “littered with needles” part comes in. I hate to make judgements, but this is, after all, Oakland, and I know I’m not overreacting.

  28. Amy M. on March 30th, 2009 2:18 pm

    Okay, I didn’t make it through all the comments, but a lot of people mentioned parent involvement. The town next to mine had 1 of the worst school systems in the county. A bunch of parents got together, completely changed the government of the town & school board through elections; got involved with everything including curriculum & now the schools are much, much better.

    I admit moving into my current house based on the school system. I was living in the city before. My next door neighbor taught in a public high school & she said she wanted to move when she had a child because she would never send her child there. So, because of this among other reasons, we decided to move. As far as I know, none of the schools in my county are engulfed in flames or littered with needles, but I went to a really good high school & I felt it better prepared me for college & grad school. Not that I’ll make my kids continue their education after high school, I just want them to have a good base in case they want to. Sorry for the novel!

  29. Elaine on March 30th, 2009 2:32 pm

    Wow lots of comments . . . a subject that rightfully generates a lot of interest. To me, a lot has to do with class size.

    Most importantly you should visit the school, talk to the teachers and administrators, and form your own opinions. You will get a lot by being there. Is it welcoming, do the kids seem happy, do you get the sense that the teachers know the individual kids. A school that’s right for one kid may not be right for another. We have our kids in 2 different private schools because they are 2 different kids. In both I know that my kids are well known. In one, they pay attention to my daughter because she has some health issues and some creative ways of learning. In the other, they pay attention to my son because he has exceptional math ability. They plan to create a special enrichment class for him and some of his classmates just to develop that interest and ability. It’s all about them knowing your kids as individuals.

  30. Amy on March 30th, 2009 3:53 pm

    Every school is going to have it’s good and bad points. The biggest concern is parental involvement. You and JB seem like the kind of parents who will always be involved with your boys, helping with homework, volunteering for field trips. We have three schools within a mile of our house, one private, one public and one charter school. Trying to be good parents, we chose the private because the cost between that and full time after school care was only $200. I hate it and my oldest is currently on the waiting list for the charter school. the public school buses or he’d be going there. I see no reason for him to be able to walk to school and then get on a bus to who knows where!! Good luck with it!!!

  31. Sarah on March 30th, 2009 4:28 pm

    We chose to live in a more modest house than we could have afforded elsewhere in exchange for being in the school district we wanted. My husband went to school here, as did his siblings, and they are all so intelligent and well rounded and had such intelligent, well rounded friends. I know experiences change and intelligence is hardly based upon geography, but it just seemed like an area in which academic growth and opportunity was supported. At least, a lot more so than many other area school districts, which offered very limited AP classes, consistently voted down school levies, and/or were known for their underage drinking.

  32. Josh on March 30th, 2009 4:39 pm

    Wow, for once this is a parenting issue I have a legit claim to having considered! Fuck yeah! Me and the woman have talked a good deal about future family making type shit, and we decided that America blows and I should be getting out as soon as possible. See, there are several advantages to living in Toronto that we down here in the dirty south just don’t have. 1 – Toronto is big as hell and has a lot of stuff. My town is not big as hell, and therefore does not have a lot of stuff. 2 – Canadians get free health care, while we Americans are pretty much left to purchase our own lube to make the ass raping less painful when we are forced into bankruptcy because of minor medical problems. (Fuck you Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, fuck you in your filthy rich assholes!) And last but not least 3 – North Carolina has really really shitty school systems. I think we fall right behind Afghanistan and Siberia. We make West Virginia look smart. I went to school here, and it did not make me stupid, but it sure tried it’s best. So while it probably does not help you at all in your search for good future schools for the boys Linda, I chose my future kids future school system based on the fact that my entire area of the nation has shitty school systems.

  33. Mama J on March 30th, 2009 6:41 pm

    I’m a mom of a 3 year old (soon to be Pre-K student in the Fall) and a 11 month old. I’m also a teacher. From experience, I say DO YOUR RESEARCH! Pick a school, then a house. Seriously. Check out the district, the school, the test scores, the student population, and the teacher turn around in that school.

  34. Rebecca on March 30th, 2009 7:25 pm

    There seems to be a pretty consistent correlation between socio-economic status and school ratings. So . . . it stands to reason that if you live in the best neighbourhood you can afford, the local schools will be about the best that you can afford, too. Obviously take a look at the school situation before buying, but it can’t be the guiding force behind your decision.

  35. little dutch girl on March 30th, 2009 8:01 pm

    We did just move, and school played a big part in choosing the area to look. I mainly talked to people with older children whose opinion I trusted. We could not afford the highest recommended public school, so we went one tier down. I still think it will be better for the development of our children to have a stay-at-home dad right now, than to go to slightly better school. I do think it is important to have diversity, and a lot of parent involvement, besides the test scores.

  36. Shannon on March 30th, 2009 8:10 pm

    I don’t have much of an opinion on your question directly, but I will put in a plug for the city of Shoreline. I live in Shoreline and all I hear is how amazing the schools are here–top notch, highly rated, etc. They’re not part of the troubled Seattle school system at all. The school system is one of the highlights of Shoreline real estate ads.

    Also, Shoreline has lower housing prices than the Eastside or within the Seattle city limits, and you get a bang for your buck. There are actual large BACKYARDS here. There are houses with views of the Sound and the mountains if you delve into the Richmond Beach area. There’s the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park just a few minutes drive away. It’s woodsy and established here.

    A third plug is that the commute to almost anywhere is pretty awesome. You can take I-5 or Aurora Ave. or Greenwood Ave. south towards the city, or zip onto I-405 or even bypass that and drive around Lake Washington to get to the Eastside. You’re not stuck taking just the one route or one of the two bridges that go over the water, and you bypass that awful south Seattle traffic completely.

    I just had to mention Shoreline because it often seems to get overlooked and I don’t know why. :)

  37. del on March 31st, 2009 2:26 am

    OK, so I live on the opposite side of the world, but for us we chose the area we wanted to live in for the lifestyle it would provide – commute, transport, shops, cafes and lots of other kids in the area (hoping they would have normal parents too meet). Having a school nearby was important but as the kids were years of school age, there wasn’t much point in investigating the quality of the school in too much detail – staffing changes, student/teacher ratios change frequently and can all impact on how good the school is.

    By the time the kids were school age, we found that the local school was great (to my limited knowledge of schooling anyway) and apparently its funding and rating had increased over the past few years. It was more about lifestyle choice again – can walk to school, have friends at the same school, other people to walk to and from school with if we aren’t available. So far it works, the biggest dilemma for us will be where too from here – there are too many choices!

  38. LJ on March 31st, 2009 5:27 am

    Our kids have gone to private schools their whole lives. Public schools here have A LOT to be desired. Couldn’t see my kids going to a school where they would just sink into the woodwork. Small (private) schools aren’t bad at all. Lots of perks.

  39. Nicole on April 1st, 2009 7:26 pm

    I’m a teacher at a public school (one that is more “desired” in our area) and while I’d love my children to go to that school, we recently bought a house (that we love) in a smaller, more “transient” community… a district we never really thought we’d consider sending our children. However, for convenience reasons, they’ll go to our “home” school.

    IMO, I personally believe that a childs home life (involvement of parents/support at home) has a LOT more to do with their achievement than what district they are in. Many people around here talk up our local private school for their “high achievement and percentage of students who go to college” but… DUH… the students who go to that school have parents that can obviously afford a private school (or in other cases, if a “good” district has higher housing costs… the families who will purchase pricier homes in that pricier district) will obviously have more finances to pay for their children to go to college. On the flip… most public schools have a mixture of students from wealthy, middle and poor class. They’ll have a varying rate of students who go onto college.

    I do think districts that offer a lot of varying curricular activities is great as well. Our largest local public school has some great opportunities for students, however the student body has a majority of inner city students who have neglecting home lives. I wouldn’t choose to send my child there regardless of the educational opportunities because of the student body. (aka… first graders who spout off the mouth like drunken sailors eeek! can you imagine them in middle and high school?)

    So anyway… I say go with the housing market…. IMO, a parents involvement makes more of an impact than what a district does.

    Hope that helps!

  40. Rachel on April 1st, 2009 10:45 pm

    If you can duck into any PTA meetings for your prospective schools, it can teach you a lot. Washington has particularly high PTA attendance rates so you’ll get a good spectrum of parents with a wide array of praise and complaints.

    Also, ask for samples of homework from as many teachers as you can. Comparing the difficulty of the work is great for deducting the standards of the teacher.

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