Would you move/stay for better school district?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
betterinvestor2012
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:55 am

Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by betterinvestor2012 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:00 am

DW and I have a small child and are in one of the "best" public school districts n the country. Unfortunately it is a very expensive area to live and to move to a better cost of living (housing) area, we would be moving to a public school system that is not rated as highly by most accounts.

All this makes me wonder if this is somewhat overrated. Our situation is such that our child will be entering elementary school, is bright, likely above average and socially does very well with other kids (thanks daycare). We believe the most important thing is for us to be engaged in her learning and not expect the school or teachers to do all the work.

All this has led to some guilt about discussing a possible better physical home as if somehow we are doing less for our child.

Has anyone else been tied down for a school district? Or is this an over blown hot button raising a child?

Thanks for your input.

User avatar
cheese_breath
Posts: 7933
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:08 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:04 am

What does "not rated as highly" mean? Is it still a good district, but not quite as good? Or is it really bad?

I wouldn't think your child needs the best school district in the country, but I wouldn't put her in a bad one either.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

virgingorda
Posts: 258
Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:30 am
Location: New England

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by virgingorda » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:20 am

I agree with you that that parental involvement is most important of all. I personally think school district matters more in middle school and high school but that decent elementary education can be found many places. In high school you may want a better ratio of college guidance counselors per student, better paid and better qualified teachers, expectation of college attendance, etc. The plus side of living in the good district is your home will presumably keep its value well. Can you add on or remodel in future years?

livesoft
Posts: 62714
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by livesoft » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:27 am

In our area the school district is so large that there are outstanding to mediocre schools at all ages throughout the district. So I would not look at just the district, but the schools my children would attend. And do not forget that school boundaries can be changed, too.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

ramsfan
Posts: 434
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:27 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by ramsfan » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:28 am

I have a very strong opinion on this. a long time ago, my parents moved from the city to the suburbs. They looked at many houses, and picked one that cost a little more money, but was in a good school district. Over time it became one of the best districts in the state. Being part of that district allowed me to be engaged in all sorts of things that were not available in the other districts. Things like advanced math, excellent music programs, theatre, robust athletic programs, lots of other highly motivated students and faculty. There was also far less alcohol, drugs, crime, etc... as the students all seemed to be engaged in school, activities, etc....

I view it as the single most important inflection points in my life, and I thank my parents for getting this one right.

Also, we live in this district today, and the housing market stays strong, as everyone wants to be in it for their young children. Many other districts in our general area may not be "bad", but they aren't as top notch, and there are large groups in those districts that send their kids to private schools, often taking the better students out of the public schools there, where is is less than 1% in our district.

Not to say you can't be successful with your alternate plan, but just wanted to share this perspective, I hope it helps.

User avatar
StormShadow
Posts: 588
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:20 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by StormShadow » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:44 am

As long as the new area is still safe with a decent public school district, I think its fine.

When I was growing up, pretty much all of the extracurricular activities I participated in had no association with my school (e.g. church, boy scouts, tae kwon do, soccer, orchestra, tennis and foreign language classes). Also had private tutoring for SAT's. It all boils down to how involved you are in helping your child have a well rounded experience.

dbr
Posts: 27207
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by dbr » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:00 am

My opinion is that the schools along with other community resources are very important. However, I am not sure that the "rating" is the information that helps figure this out. One major factor is that school districts are not necessarily homogenous. That is especially true of urban districts where neighborhood matters a lot. It might be better to find out from people that have children in the proposed schools how things are going.

User avatar
TheTimeLord
Posts: 5284
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:05 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by TheTimeLord » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:19 am

A top rated school district is a definite plus for the value of your home long term. From what I have been told by and large if an elementary school is located within a neighborhood it performs well because it has high parental participation. Our house is in a very funny location in our school district, the very corner of the district. We have a smaller neighborhood elementary but the kids are bused past the closest middle and high schools to other schools in the district because the parents threw an absolute fit about the nearest schools.There was even a group that tried to have our neighborhood transferred to the adjacent district because it is higher rated and most of the kids the kids from our neighborhood meet in their activities are from that district. This is just to say from what I can tell from the parents I know getting kids into the right school is almost a bloodsport.
IMHO, Investing should be about living the life you want, not avoiding the life you fear. | Run, You Clever Boy! [9085]

Beth*
Posts: 734
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:57 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Beth* » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:21 am

When deciding where to live when my children were little, I looked at the schools to see how I thought my children would do in them, not how the schools were ranked. I talked to parents who had children in the schools and listened carefully to why they liked or disliked a school. (Playgrounds are a good place to find parents to talk to and most parents are happy to talk about the schools.) Generally school rankings are based on test scores and test scores are highly correlated with the socioeconomic make-up of the school district. Given this, I downplayed school rankings when deciding where to live.

My children went to schools where the average test scores, and therefore the school rankings, were lower than in some of the surrounding districts but my children did well. They are both adults now and they tell me that they think they benefited from going to school with a diverse group of children rather than having all their classmates being middle class and above.

However, my house has appreciated less in value than houses in surrounding districts with higher test scores. If that is a primary consideration I think there is an argument for picking a "highly ranked" school district even if your children would do just as well in a "lower ranked" school district. On the other hand, I paid less for my house than I would have paid in some of the surrounding school districts that were more highly ranked and that led to having more disposable income and more money to save in retirement accounts. If my mortgage were $1,000 a month higher I would have saved less in my retirement accounts and I would not have paid off my house as quickly. Paying off the house has given me the ability to save even more money. I've never run the calculation and I don't have any interest in doing so since it is not actionable at this point, but even with my home increasing less in value than homes in some surrounding districts I may still have come out ahead economically by paying less for the house and therefore taking out a smaller mortgage in the first place. I also saved because there was less pressure to keep up with the neighbors. Read The Millionaire Next Door for a good analysis of how you save money by living in a less expensive neighborhood.

PatrickA5
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:55 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by PatrickA5 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:34 am

We stayed in our previous house for an additional 16 years because we wanted our kids to stay within the same school district and not move schools. It was VERY important to us and our kids. It was a highly rated, large suburban school district with great facilities and great teachers. If we moved just 1 mile north, we'd have been in the urban school district which has had many problems over the last few decades. I've also found that home values do somewhat better in good school districts. Staying in our current city (and good school district) was non-negotiable for us and even caused us to turn down a couple of promotions that would have required a move to another state.

sambb
Posts: 2144
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by sambb » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:39 am

would, without a doubt, stay in a good school district. I went to a bad public school, was lucky enough to hit a good college. doors opened - learning opportunities, guidance,etc that i never knew existed. wish they opened earlier when i was in grade school.

Beth*
Posts: 734
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:57 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Beth* » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:01 am

sambb wrote:would, without a doubt, stay in a good school district. I went to a bad public school, was lucky enough to hit a good college. doors opened - learning opportunities, guidance,etc that i never knew existed. wish they opened earlier when i was in grade school.
The original poster didn't ask about moving to a bad school district. He asked, "Would you move/stay for a better school district?" I doubt you can find anyone on this forum to advocate putting your child in a "bad" school (which I would define as unsafe and/or staffed by people who had no aspirations for the children to grow up and find rewarding careers and live fulfilling and meaningful lives). The question as I see it is what is meant by a "better school district" and is it worth the extra cost? I would also argue that there can be potential drawbacks to living in a "better" school district (see The Millionaire Next Door).
Last edited by Beth* on Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:04 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Sheepdog
Posts: 5159
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:05 pm
Location: Indiana, retired 1998 at age 65

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Sheepdog » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:02 am

Yes/Yes
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter which tells what kind of life you have lived---Helen Walton

MathWizard
Posts: 3003
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by MathWizard » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:30 am

Yes and yes and I did both.
I don't regret it.

Herekittykitty
Posts: 575
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:11 pm
Location: Flyover Country

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Herekittykitty » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:42 am

Yep. Yep.

Getting into the best school district that I can reasonably and safely afford is my top criterion for deciding where to live.

Especially when I had kids. But even now that I am older and the kids are grown, because I want to live around people who care a lot about where their kids go to school.
I don't know anything.

Lafder
Posts: 3794
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:56 pm
Location: East of the Rio Grande

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Lafder » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:44 am

The best school district is very different from the worst. But there may not be as much difference between the best, and the school district not listed as the best.

A lot of it really depends on your child.

One of my children would do well at any school (I think since she is only on one), the other not so much.

If the cost of living in the higher cost area is too stressful that may not be worth it. Being the "poor" family in the rich neighborhood has it's stresses in that it sets your comparison at a higher income/spending rate, and it may be impossible to keep up with the Jones.

Better to be the millionaire next door in an average neighborhood, I think.

There are many in between factors including the stress of moving.

Often the school boundaries feel arbitrary and there is no practical difference between neighborhoods a few blocks from each other that end up in different school districts.

My answer to your question is that it depends.

My bias is that my kids are in private schools, so school district was not at all a factor when we moved. But I happen to live in a city/state at the wrong end of ALL statistics, especially when it comes to the quality of our public schools.

lafder

TexasPenny
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:40 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by TexasPenny » Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:31 pm

I just want to add that going to a school with a diverse demographic is very helpful for understanding (and being comfortable with) other cultures/races. My junior high and high school in central California was about half white and the rest was a mix of black, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, Chinese. It was great growing up in such a mix. You didn't even 'notice' how different everyone was...because everyone was different. Then I went to college at a private university in Missouri, and was actually uncomfortable at how white it was (and I'm white). Very little diversity. I think making sure your child has a well rounded experience is as important as 'rankings'. Meeting people with different backgrounds and being friends with them can really help a child be a more rounded person, instead of going to a homogenous school.

ResearchMed
Posts: 7221
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:01 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:DW and I have a small child and are in one of the "best" public school districts n the country. Unfortunately it is a very expensive area to live and to move to a better cost of living (housing) area, we would be moving to a public school system that is not rated as highly by most accounts.

All this makes me wonder if this is somewhat overrated. Our situation is such that our child will be entering elementary school, is bright, likely above average and socially does very well with other kids (thanks daycare). We believe the most important thing is for us to be engaged in her learning and not expect the school or teachers to do all the work.

All this has led to some guilt about discussing a possible better physical home as if somehow we are doing less for our child.

Has anyone else been tied down for a school district? Or is this an over blown hot button raising a child?

Thanks for your input.
What exactly do you mean by "better physical home"?

Larger? More bathrooms? Better materials? Nicer lot?

There will always be a "better physical home" nearby (or one you can easily imagine).

You aren't mentioning what is "wrong" with your current home.
Whatever that is, can any of it be "fixed"? (Renovations, an addition, etc.)
If it's just that it is "small", again, *how* small, and is that really important?

My parents moved us from an excellent and diverse public city school, part way across the country, and for some insane reason, plopped us down in a pleasant suburb, but one with NOT at all a good school system. Very few students went to college.
I went from being admired for being "smart" (and friends asked me to tutor them in math, and that probably had a big impact on my continuing to do that the rest of my life - well, not the same exact friends all these decades!)... to being severely ostracized for being smart.
Socially and intellectually it was horrible.

(I was older, but it was even manifested within SOME of the teachers. I had had one year of French, in an advanced program. In the new school, we were asked to translate something, and I got a failing grade, because - this is true - "we haven't learned those tenses yet, so you can't use them". We were only supposed to use simple past, present, future, and the English version had far more than these three simple tenses. I had to keep correcting my geometry teacher, and I hadn't had geometry before, but his mistakes were so obvious. Other teachers refused to call on me, because they realized they probably wouldn't know the answer to my questions, and good grief, they couldn't possibly say they'd check - or better yet, suggest I go to the library to look it up or something.)

It would have been dreadful even if I had not just moved from a better school district, but the move made it very clear (to me) that it was NOT "just me".

Yes, this was a rather extreme change, but the new school was NOT a "bad" school. Just one where "learning" wasn't, um, emphasized.

Yes, as parents, you can, should, and will add a lot to what your child/ren learn in school, but it can't make up for a lack of intellectual stimulation and *enjoyment* AT school.
(Sure, children in far worse schools end up with great achievements, but I can't help but think how much better it would have been - even if "just" emotionally - in a school with a better fit.)

That's my experience, only, of course.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

User avatar
CMartel2
Posts: 223
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:46 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by CMartel2 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 6:40 pm

It depends on what you value in education for your children. Some people value diversity; I couldn't care less. Cultures only exist because of homogeneity, afterall. If you value a parochial education, buying in a cheap school district makes sense. You save in purchase price and taxes and pay for the schook itself.

User avatar
Hayden
Posts: 1154
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:13 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Hayden » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:08 pm

I went to a top public high school, and from there, a top university. I often get asked how attending this particular university changed my life. I actually think the top public high school was more important.

Leemiller
Posts: 1049
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:42 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Leemiller » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:36 pm

Yes and Yes. My sister and I attended different school districts because I chose to attend a magnet high school. My classmates were expected to go to top schools as a precursor to graduate school. My sister's friends were more content with the state schools and graduate school wasn't a given at all. I also happened to attend a magnet program in a predominately minority public high school. As an adult, we chose our house in a top school district, where we might have saved $$$ to live elsewhere. I think it is it worth it. Your kids are only with you so many hours in the day, their classmates, as much as teachers, etc. can shape them. I don't find "diversity" as a completely abstract notion to be that compelling. I'd prefer to see some racial/religious diversity in my kid's classmates, as far as socio-economic, I think it can have its pluses and minuses. I have lots of stories from when I was in high school that most people wouldn't want their kids exposed to at all.

Beth*
Posts: 734
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:57 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Beth* » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:51 pm

TexasPenny wrote:I just want to add that going to a school with a diverse demographic is very helpful for understanding (and being comfortable with) other cultures/races. My junior high and high school in central California was about half white and the rest was a mix of black, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, Chinese. It was great growing up in such a mix. You didn't even 'notice' how different everyone was...because everyone was different. Then I went to college at a private university in Missouri, and was actually uncomfortable at how white it was (and I'm white). Very little diversity. I think making sure your child has a well rounded experience is as important as 'rankings'. Meeting people with different backgrounds and being friends with them can really help a child be a more rounded person, instead of going to a homogenous school.
My children, who went to schools where no racial/ethnic group was in the majority, have told me the same thing.

User avatar
Tycoon
Posts: 1266
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Tycoon » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:24 pm

Yes, we did move to a better school district. Yes, we will stay in the district until the youngest graduates.
Appeal to Pity:When pity is envoked to support a statement | Appeal to Popular Sentiment:Appealing to unrelated prejudices and attitudes | Hasty Generalization:Too little evidence to support the conclusion

camptalcott
Posts: 241
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Just one example

Post by camptalcott » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:18 pm

Unfortunately my sister in law did this and the results are not good so far.

So my brother in law and sister in law moved to an area that they could barely afford simply because the school districts were great. the area is clearly more expensive than they could "comfortably" afford.

In a nutshell.
1) because of the cost of houses, they could only afford an older fixer upper and her mortgage/property tax and insurance is eating up 55% of the income. Now they are struggling to keep up. he is quickly learner to be a diy'er because they can't afford to have any thing repaired professionally.
2) vacations, extra curriculars any thing are now put on hold.
3) retirement savings and college savings again are on hold. they have 3 kids, they have said many times these kids have to get scholarships.

Don't get me wrong, my husband and I did sacrifice but 15-20 years is a long time to struggle through in the stress of living on the edge.

My husband and I would have loved to move our kids in a few areas with the best school districts but we simply did not feel the cost was worth it.

Now my oldest son is an Asperger kid so it was very interesting that our school district which is medium had a better program for him than the "better" districts, but we knew college was a path he was going to take.
"He who dies with the most toys is still, nonetheless dead"

killjoy2012
Posts: 1039
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:30 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:33 pm

I think personal upbringing weighs heavily on this too. Both of my parents were public school teachers, and although they did not make very much money, they managed to send all four of their kids through 13 years of private school, K-12. My sister now has a 5 & 3 year old, they just moved to a different house within the same school district so as to get the kids into the top public middle and high school. They considered staying in the same house (same city, but 'poor' side of tracks) and sending them to private school, including the school we went to when we were kids, but they just couldn't justify the $10-20k/year/kid. It was much more fiscally prudent to just upgrade the home that would get them into that top school.

User avatar
bottomfisher
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by bottomfisher » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:08 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:All this has led to some guilt about discussing a possible better physical home as if somehow we are doing less for our child. Has anyone else been tied down for a school district? Or is this an over blown hot button raising a child?
We have twin girls 11 months old. We moved 1 year ago for this reason. I pressed the issue; my wife was 8'ish mo. pregnant and not her priority at that time. We lived in New Orleans, but we're both from the immediately adjacent suburb. Public school in New Orleans was not a consideration. Nearby private / Catholic (its a New Orleans thing) tuition was $14,000/per year per child. I didn't want them to go further away for schooling, because I did and had no elementary school classmates in the neighborhood. I prefer the idea of having their friends nearby.

My wife preferred the suburb setting we were both from. Since she moved on a whim to New Orleans proper on my request, we moved back to her comfort zone with next relocation. There is an elementary school one long block away. I love the idea of walking my girls to school one day. I had to take an hour long bus route even though the school was about 15 away. And tuition is $4,000ish/per year per child. In this area public schools are better but still not an option for us. I went to Catholic school in 1st - 8th grade, then followed my big brother to public school because I admired him so much. In hindsight, I learned vey little from 9th - 12th grade compared to prior schooling. Public school is just different in our area and I preferred not to pay $28,000'ish/ per year at our prior home for our girls. Hence, we made the move. However, I do feel home life makes so much of a difference. Home can obviously influence learning environment and habits. However, outside influences can only be influenced to a certain degree at less desirable schools. Unfortunately, peer pressure is peer pressure and I wish to limit as best I can. So that's why we moved.

robert88
Posts: 366
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:27 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by robert88 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:38 pm

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I wonder whether B students at the best public high school would have been better off at a slightly worse(less academically competitive) school where they could have been A students, at least when it comes to college admissions.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14128
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Watty » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:33 am

Beth* wrote:Generally school rankings are based on test scores and test scores are highly correlated with the socioeconomic make-up of the school district. Given this, I downplayed school rankings when deciding where to live.
Don't underestimate this factor.

When I was doing a cross country corporate relocation I had to quickly find a house in a city I did not know when my son was in middle school so we were looking a lot at school test scores. There was a very large well regarded school district that was in a location that made it a natural choice for us. That district had about 15 high schools and the rankings of the schools varied significantly so we were trying to figure out which high schools to try to find a house in. In talking to a school counselor about the differences it came out that all the high schools in the district had basically the same attributes and the score differences were mostly due to students demographics and that the schools that had the lower scores actually got some additional resources.

There are of course issues with the schools with a high percentage of low income kids, but schools in the very affluent areas where there were a lot of cars like BMW's in the student parking lot have their own issues too.

It is very difficult to find any sort of school ranking that that will actually measure the quality of the program without getting skewed by the student demographics so you need to take moderate differences in test scores with a grain of salt.

ahmadcpa
Posts: 139
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:58 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by ahmadcpa » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:46 am

Cupertino?
betterinvestor2012 wrote:DW and I have a small child and are in one of the "best" public school districts n the country. Unfortunately it is a very expensive area to live and to move to a better cost of living (housing) area, we would be moving to a public school system that is not rated as highly by most accounts.

All this makes me wonder if this is somewhat overrated. Our situation is such that our child will be entering elementary school, is bright, likely above average and socially does very well with other kids (thanks daycare). We believe the most important thing is for us to be engaged in her learning and not expect the school or teachers to do all the work.

All this has led to some guilt about discussing a possible better physical home as if somehow we are doing less for our child.

Has anyone else been tied down for a school district? Or is this an over blown hot button raising a child?

Thanks for your input.

Balance
Posts: 265
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:27 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Balance » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:29 am

ahmadcpa wrote:Cupertino?
betterinvestor2012 wrote:DW and I have a small child and are in one of the "best" public school districts n the country. Unfortunately it is a very expensive area to live and to move to a better cost of living (housing) area, we would be moving to a public school system that is not rated as highly by most accounts.

All this makes me wonder if this is somewhat overrated. Our situation is such that our child will be entering elementary school, is bright, likely above average and socially does very well with other kids (thanks daycare). We believe the most important thing is for us to be engaged in her learning and not expect the school or teachers to do all the work.

All this has led to some guilt about discussing a possible better physical home as if somehow we are doing less for our child.

Has anyone else been tied down for a school district? Or is this an over blown hot button raising a child?

Thanks for your input.
Cupertino was my guess too. Luckily in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties there are many good school districts to choose from.

epilnk
Posts: 2632
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:05 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by epilnk » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:51 am

Yes, we would and did move to get into the school district we wanted. But it really depends on what you mean by "best". It's pretty hard to identify a good school from the outside. Some things I would look for:

- Access to magnet programs
- School choice within the district
- Diverse set of extra curriculars (at the middle or high school level, though should reflect overall district quality)
- One or more notable or award winning programs - orchestra, theater, robotics, etc. May suggest a commitment to or culture of excellence.
- Strong parent communities

Things I would not move for:
- High test scores. Correlates more with demographics of the student body than the quality of the teaching. Where the teachers do raise scores, it may reflect a focus on the tests rather than the quality of the education. However a school with high test scores despite a high free/reduced lunch population might be worth a look. And our state has a "similar schools ranking" that compares test scores to demographically similar schools - it's controversial and not perfect, but it's a bit better than just relying on the raw scores.

- Affluence of the community. This is a mixed bag since it comes with a host of problems along with superior resources. For example affluent schools often have more drug problems than lower/middle income schools - dealers are smart enough to target the markets with purchasing power.

Make sure you understand what you are buying into.

Leeraar
Posts: 4109
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:41 pm
Location: Nowhere

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Leeraar » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:31 am

Don't underestimate the individual teacher.

The deal breaker for us was when the second grade teacher refused to challenge our child (who was reading at fifth grade level) but instead used him as a reading tutor in her own class.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

Miakis
Posts: 371
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:40 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Miakis » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:39 am

I used to think that it didn't really matter. Lately, I've had occasion to do seminars in grade 6 classes. The difference between a good school's class and a not-so-good school's class is obvious. There schools are all in the same district, however - so school choice is far more important than district choice.

I don't want to say "bad" school, because I don't think any of the schools I've been to were dangerous or had uncaring teachers. And it's a bit offensive to say that it's "bad" when there are many children with language, socio-economic or other challenges.

Excellent students get left behind in mediocre classrooms.

As an example, I've been in a couple of classrooms where we had to skip a large part of the math portion of the seminar because over half of the students weren't able to handle grade-level math. Where does this leave the students to excel at math? Well, I can tell you that in the worst classroom I was in, the good students were insulted and bullied every time they tried to answer a question. In that class, we had to stop the lesson because the students who weren't able to keep up had to have their calculators taken away because they kept throwing them at the kids who understood the lesson.

I, personally, would try to get my kids into the best school I could afford. I wouldn't fret the difference between the best school and the second best school. But I wouldn't trade the best school for the fifth best school. And the best school in one school district is almost certainly superior to the worst school in the neighboring district.

dbr
Posts: 27207
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by dbr » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:57 am

Leeraar wrote:Don't underestimate the individual teacher.

The deal breaker for us was when the second grade teacher refused to challenge our child (who was reading at fifth grade level) but instead used him as a reading tutor in her own class.

L.
I spend a lot of time in schools and would say it is a more difficult task for a teacher to find ways to challenge students who are higher performing or ahead of the curriculum that it is to find ways to help students who are lower performing or behind the curriculum. There is a lot of support for the latter and very little for the former.

Asking kids who have mastered something to help kids who are still struggling with it is not necessarily a bad thing, but I would agree this does not really answer the issue. I also know that there are a lot of precocious readers based on the standard reading level tests but that the best response for those kids may be more challenge for reading based discussion, research, and other challenges to thinking above and beyond pure mechanical skills in reading. Demanding more in writing associated with reading is another good route to challenge.

SDBoggled
Posts: 369
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:35 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by SDBoggled » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:07 pm

Hi,

You might find this thread useful, it is about a schools in a specific area, but I think the general principles apply. Range of value of school rankings, Value of peer group, Housing cost, Housing appreciation, family priorities. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=130595&hilit=school

From my small sample of school districts in CA (may not translate to other states as CA is ranked so low), I personally would set one screen criteria that school district have all High School API 850+.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 48046
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Nov 30, 2014 1:52 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (where to live).
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

ResearchMed
Posts: 7221
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:23 pm

Miakis wrote:I used to think that it didn't really matter. Lately, I've had occasion to do seminars in grade 6 classes. The difference between a good school's class and a not-so-good school's class is obvious. There schools are all in the same district, however - so school choice is far more important than district choice.

I don't want to say "bad" school, because I don't think any of the schools I've been to were dangerous or had uncaring teachers. And it's a bit offensive to say that it's "bad" when there are many children with language, socio-economic or other challenges.

Excellent students get left behind in mediocre classrooms.

As an example, I've been in a couple of classrooms where we had to skip a large part of the math portion of the seminar because over half of the students weren't able to handle grade-level math. Where does this leave the students to excel at math? Well, I can tell you that in the worst classroom I was in, the good students were insulted and bullied every time they tried to answer a question. In that class, we had to stop the lesson because the students who weren't able to keep up had to have their calculators taken away because they kept throwing them at the kids who understood the lesson.

I, personally, would try to get my kids into the best school I could afford. I wouldn't fret the difference between the best school and the second best school. But I wouldn't trade the best school for the fifth best school. And the best school in one school district is almost certainly superior to the worst school in the neighboring district.
This sounds uncomfortably close to what I experienced (written in post above), but "not quite so bad".

That is, no one threw calculators at me, because the calculators didn't exist then.
And the social ostracism was far worse.
There were a handful of bright/eager students, and we were all in the same classes all the time, with different "others" most of the time.
There was only on other "girl". Apparently we were "too smart for anyone to date", but not too smart to copy our quiz answers.
(So, of course, I made things socially "worse" by answering math quizzes *fast*, and turning the page over and putting ALL wrong answers on the reverse side. Yes, several students got "zero" correct. And nope, no repercussions for them. Just rage at me. But they kept copying, even though I frequently kept doing the same thing, too :twisted: )

It was awful.

Obviously there are "degrees", but I'd strongly encourage any parent to think very, very carefully before voluntarily selecting a school that is not up to par with child's ability and interest level.

And some of the teachers were abusive, too.
(I was the first ever to request to audit a course, as I certainly didn't need "study hall" time to complete the pathetic homework assignments. So there was a new human physiology course, and I'd taken the only biology course offered. That teacher, who had given me all A's in bio, couldn't bear it that I was "auditing" HIS course, but getting credit for a *math* course. Why he couldn't focus on the fact that I went out of my way to get permission to sit in his class every day, only because I "wanted to"? I'll never get that part. Anyway, after a few weeks, he came right up in front of my desk, poked his fist repeatedly to within about 2 inches of my face, screaming about WHY I wasn't taking this class for credit, but was taking math, etc. When he finally paused, he repeatedly demanded an answer to: "What do you think you are going to do when you grow up that you need math and not more biology? You'll be a mother!"
To which I replied, "I'll be a MATH TEACHER", and I stormed out of the room, never to return. And read more books during study hall.
And I was reprimanded for insubordination, and they tried to force me to return to that class. They would have had to carry me in there...)

This was a "very respectable" suburb of a major metropolitan area, albeit one not known for excellence in schools.
But also NOT known for "poor schools".

It was just a very, very bad mis-match.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

MathWizard
Posts: 3003
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by MathWizard » Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:52 pm

RM,

Sorry to hear about your experience. I had somewhat the same experience, and couldn't wait
to get to college. I kept insisting that we needed better preparation, but could not even get access
to books (no library in the town, or elementary school, very limited library in high school).
Sports seemed to be more highly valued than education.

Having taken almost all the courses I was allowed to take in HS, I was still behind other students
when I got to college. I almost lost my scholarship after the first semester, only doing well after
studying ahead over Christmas break and the following summer.

I talk to grad students in engineering and science who don't understand why US schools don't teach more math and logic.

Maybe that is why I favor the better schools. Kids spend lots of time with these people,
and they are the most valuable thing in life to my wife and me.

denovo
Posts: 4352
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by denovo » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:04 pm

Reading through this thread, I can't help but think of this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-selection_bias
In statistics, self-selection bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with nonprobability sampling.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

sambb
Posts: 2144
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by sambb » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:44 pm

Miakis wrote:I used to think that it didn't really matter. Lately, I've had occasion to do seminars in grade 6 classes. The difference between a good school's class and a not-so-good school's class is obvious. There schools are all in the same district, however - so school choice is far more important than district choice.

I don't want to say "bad" school, because I don't think any of the schools I've been to were dangerous or had uncaring teachers. And it's a bit offensive to say that it's "bad" when there are many children with language, socio-economic or other challenges.

Excellent students get left behind in mediocre classrooms.

As an example, I've been in a couple of classrooms where we had to skip a large part of the math portion of the seminar because over half of the students weren't able to handle grade-level math. Where does this leave the students to excel at math? Well, I can tell you that in the worst classroom I was in, the good students were insulted and bullied every time they tried to answer a question. In that class, we had to stop the lesson because the students who weren't able to keep up had to have their calculators taken away because they kept throwing them at the kids who understood the lesson.

I, personally, would try to get my kids into the best school I could afford. I wouldn't fret the difference between the best school and the second best school. But I wouldn't trade the best school for the fifth best school. And the best school in one school district is almost certainly superior to the worst school in the neighboring district.

Well stated - been there, done that, and seen it. +1

Leeraar
Posts: 4109
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:41 pm
Location: Nowhere

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Leeraar » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:02 pm

I think the quality of the other students is a big factor.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

westhermes
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:13 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by westhermes » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:21 pm

For what its worth I feel the pain but in the opposite direction. Feel like I should be paying up for better school district (our current SD is highly rated already) or even a private school for our kids. What good is having some money if I am not going to do everything I can for one of the most important areas of their lives, their education? I cannot imagine moving to a cheaper place with inferior schools.

User avatar
ram
Posts: 1080
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:47 pm
Location: Midwest

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by ram » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:28 pm

We have sent our kids to the best schools that we could and where possible we have preferred jobs in areas with better school options.
Many years ago both our kids were testing at 98 or 99 th percentile in grade school in New York state in English and Math and I had to move to New Orleans. We based our housing decision on the ranking of the schools in the suburbs without actually seeing the apartment building (except on the internet) where we rented. Public schools in the city were "less than ideal" and we could not afford private schools at that time.
We currently live in mid west in an area with the top rated high school in the state and our kids have benefited from attending this school. Their high school has won many state and national science competitions. We have been happy with our decisions.
I will echo the sentiments of other posters that kids should be in a class where they are challenged. When my daughter transferred to her high school from out of state she was given 5 honors classes and refused any additional honors classes (deemed too much). She was very unhappy in her 'regular' social studies class and transferred mid year to the 'honors' class once the teacher and counselor were sure that she could handle it. She eventually graduated from the high school as a state and national AP scholar.
Our kids have gotten substantial merit scholarships in college and perhaps the choice of the schools had a role to play.
Ram

staythecourse
Posts: 6010
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by staythecourse » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:39 pm

Funny how a website full of folks who believe in data to make decisions in their jobs (all the engineers and software folks out there) and in their investing decisions do not have any concrete data to support their stance on this topic.

Does anyone have data to support their decisions? Do kids who go to top rated elementary/ middle/ high schools do better in life? Guess I am defining "better in life" as starting income and mid career income.

The obvious may not be obvious. For example, someone awhile ago linked a GREAT site that looked at grads from different colleges by state showing their starting and mid career salaries. The results were not what was expected. I live in Illinois and remember that the grads from University of Illinois ranked higher in BOTH the measurements vs. those from University of Chicago and Northwestern. That is likely different then what most would have predicted.

I am just wondering if this is one of those topics we just accept the dogma "Get into the best school and all will be okay". I am not sure if I believe that anymore. I am starting to think the best is a safe learning environment with any good school that has A LOT of parental environment. This seems to follow the whole "Takes a village to raise a kid" mantra. How a child does in their life seems more to do with their own abilities and drive then them going to a specific school and matriculating through the process.

Anyways, any folks have some concrete data to support their viewpoint as I am genuinely curious.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Leeraar
Posts: 4109
Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:41 pm
Location: Nowhere

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Leeraar » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:58 pm

OP,

You might look into the option of "schools of choice" or "tuition paid" at public schools in neighboring districts. That's what we did to send our sons to the best public high school in the state (Michigan). Sure, it was an eight-mile drive each way until they turned 16, but it was much cheaper than moving to a very high-rent area.

How good is the school? Well, one measure is that 27% of their graduates receive admission to the University of Michigan. And, trust me, it's not because they play football. I personally think that is an astounding statistic.

Rather than just a "good" school, you should also consider what might be a good fit. Parental involvement is important, but so is a genuine respect for academic achievement. I went to schools where, as other posters have described, academic excellence was cause for bullying, not celebration. It is very important that your kids feel they fit in.

L.
You can get what you want, or you can just get old. (Billy Joel, "Vienna")

robert88
Posts: 366
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:27 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by robert88 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:34 am

Watty wrote: It is very difficult to find any sort of school ranking that that will actually measure the quality of the program without getting skewed by the student demographics so you need to take moderate differences in test scores with a grain of salt.
In my view, especially in elementary school, there just isn't that much variation in how you teach the basics of reading, writing, and math. There's not much variation in the quality of the teachers. However, teachers at the lower grade levels inevitably spend most of their time on the lowest common denominator, so you want your kids to go to a school with fewer low IQ students and fewer students with major behavioral problems. School wide test scores can still be misleading because many schools have gifted or advanced tracks, which effectively place your kid in a school within a school and avoids the dumb classmate problem.

retired recently
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by retired recently » Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:21 am

When my wife and I moved back to the US we looked online to find the better school districts and purchased a home in one we liked. What the test scores do not reveal is that the school may do a great job of getting all or most kids to or above the state-mandated level, information is very difficult to find regarding how well the schools do at challenging those kids who are already above grade level.

We supplemented our child's learning throughout elementary school. We found a charter middle school that is quite a distance away but we have decided to drive back and forth to it until high school.

jstrazzere
Posts: 260
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by jstrazzere » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:57 am

betterinvestor2012 wrote:All this makes me wonder if this is somewhat overrated. Our situation is such that our child will be entering elementary school, is bright, likely above average and socially does very well with other kids (thanks daycare). We believe the most important thing is for us to be engaged in her learning and not expect the school or teachers to do all the work.
I've always felt that the most significant factor is children's academic success is the attention and involvement of the parents. School district rating is way down on my list.

Schooling is one of those things in life that you get out of it what you put in. Private school, Public school, highest-rated district, not-highest-rated district - none of that matters anywhere near as much as drive, effort, and support from home.

Perhaps we were fortunate in that we were never in a bad school system. It wasn't the top-rated district in the country or state, but based on how my children succeeded it was quite good enough.

TRC
Posts: 1885
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:38 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by TRC » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:03 am

Can you move, but keep your kid in the same school? This is known as "school choice" in MA. But to answer your question, I dont think it's critical to be in the best school.

Tanelorn
Posts: 1542
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 9:35 pm

Re: Would you move/stay for better school district?

Post by Tanelorn » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:19 am

Beth* wrote:Generally school rankings are based on test scores and test scores are highly correlated with the socioeconomic make-up of the school district. Given this, I downplayed school rankings when deciding where to live.
And for others this is a reason to pick a highly ranked school district. High property values are a way for parents who value education a lot (and can afford it) to self-select into the good schools. If your child has a lot of potential, they're more likely to reach it in that kind of environment. Kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have more behavior problems and less parental involvement on average, which leads of less learning and more discipline in the classroom. This is an especially hard environment for a top child to excel, both because of the average students holding back the speed of learning and because of the modern trend towards bullying smart kids (which apparently has gotten much worse since the time when today's parents were in school).

Worse ranked school districts often are unable to attract the best teachers due to the less desirable work/classroom environment. I went to visit one of the top public schools in my state and I was impressed with how lucky/privileged all the teachers said they felt to be able to teach there. The kids were smart, well behaved, and the parents cared a lot. This made things much better for everyone and these were the teachers I would want for my child.

Post Reply