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School Crossing

By Guy Nahmiach

As Jeffco introduces a new registration format, I’ve been hearing from many families that are reconsidering their choices of where to send their kids to, maybe re-evaluating their first choice and perhaps even entertaining something they’ve never thought of before. It’s really shaking things up. More parents actually visiting schools and having face-to-face conversations with principals, teachers and staff instead of listening to their neighbor or reading the hype or warnings on social media.

While parents are shopping around for schools, they are considering class sizes, free and reduced ratios, and they are also reviewing stats. Proficiency rates (county vs state vs nationwide), parent reviews, discipline stats that include number of suspensions and detentions, and extracurricular activities, such as school gardens, community involvement, may also be considered. Parents may even look at racial makeup of a school, languages taught and styles of PE.

Of course, I’m laughing as I write this. Shopping for schools was unheard-of growing up. You simply went to the school closest to your home and made the best of it.

The new registration system offers only some categories for now. But superintendent Dr. Jason Glass promises additional ones in the future. While most parents I speak with take those numbers seriously, most educators, I found, stay away from discussing test scores and proficiency ratings. As mentioned above, this is by no means the only way to rate or judge a school, but it certainly helps to paint a complete picture. It’s one of the reasons why choice has been so popular. It helps to find that “perfect” fit for your student.

Choice, of course, has its own controversies. While many believe that “involved” parents would work to improve any school they were assigned to, National Association of Realtors surveys show that the No. 1 factor for home buyers is schools. In fact the same study shows that “homes in good school districts sell more quickly, hold their values and command higher selling prices than homes in lower quality districts.” As a Realtor myself, I can share with you that when buyers are in a home that they like and pull up the stats on the nearest school on greatschools.com,  they will either ask me to show them other houses or be reassured that the choice program will allow them to buy this home but be able to register their kids at a different school. For a second, try to imagine forcing families to attend the school closest to their home. In states where choice does not exist, values skyrocket around the good schools and plummet around those not-so-great schools.

I have to wonder what we would look like here in Wheat Ridge. Peak Elementary for example had a 62 percent choice-out enrollment. There are reasons why families actively decide not to send their kids there. What if choice was repealed and families were forced to attend Peak? Would they roll up their sleeves and dig in to improve this school? Would they sell their homes and move to where they wanted their kids to attend? Or would they simply not buy there in the first place, sending that neighborhood into a depressed state?

What happens if your child attends your local school and you are involved yet still find it not to be the right fit? That was my case with my kids. How long before you make a move? We experienced both sides and I can honestly tell you that the wrong side of that coin does not feel good - not for the student and certainly not for the parents.

Educators view education like a marathon, small corrections to a long path. As parents though, we view our kids’ education like a sprint race:  Only so many years to learn, instill values and create a plan for the future. I’m looking for daily and weekly changes and modifications. I don’t have time to try something next fall or when a bond passes.

If you are not happy at your job, you speak with your boss and if that doesn’t work out, you start looking around for a new job. If your child is not happy at school, you speak with the teachers and/or principal and if things don’t improve, you start looking for a new one. This is not a local store that you need to support. This is your child’s education and your job is to look out for your child, not the school. I wonder how diversified our choices will be after year one of Enrollment Jeffco.

As always, thanks for reading.

Contact Guy Nahmiach at Guy@NostalgicHomes.Com or  303-999-5789.