Should family income play a role in redistricting? What should matter?

As metro areas grow, school lines shift. Several districts are in the midst of redistricting, and the process is rife with emotions, recriminations and strife.

Many homeowners contend that they bought their homes because of the local schools and rebel when they’re told five years later that their fifth grader will now be leaving friends and the familiar to journey to a new school.

My mailbox is full of e-mails from parents across metro Atlanta telling me about proposed redistrictings that they feel send their children to either a less successful school or a school where the kids won’t know anyone. Some of the parents have maps to show how their small area is being carved out to attend a new school while everyone around them is staying put.

They often report that the school board members carefully drew the maps so their own kids or grandkids or constituents have the least turmoil. (Such accusations are common in DeKalb where most changes are perceived to have a political subtext.)

The overriding questions that has to be asked in redistricting is whether there is overcrowding and whether shifting lines alleviates the problem. If the answer is “yes,” then the next question is how to make the shift in a way that makes sense and disrupts the fewest neighborhoods.

I would like folks here to consider whether it should be important for school boards to preserve feeders or take into consideration preserving intact neighborhoods. I understand the issue for parents, although I would argue that neighborhood friendships matter most in elementary school when proximity often determines after-school playmates and less in high school when teens have greater mobility and can easily get to a friend’s house four miles away.

When I attended the DeKalb hearings on school closings and later on redistricting, I thought the school board was facing an impossible task as no parents wanted their children moved to a new school, even if the school was three miles away.

Someone is going to have to move in redistricting. How do school boards decide?  Is there a better way?

And should socio-economics play a role? Increasingly, schools are looking for a balance of incomes among their student bodies, as too much poverty concentrated in a single school can set it on a track for failure. So, while districts no longer jerry-rig lines to balance race in schools, they can diversify schools by socio-economics. (See this blog on effort to do so in one North Carolina district.)

Take a look at this good AJC story today on the redistricting angst in Gwinnett:

Here is an excerpt:

Gwinnett Schools is redistricting to relieve overcrowding at Peachtree Ridge High, which has 3,226 students, but room for only 2,800. Hull Middle, which is 700 students over capacity, has reached an enrollment of 2,409 – more than many small colleges.

The district’s initial plan to balance enrollment sent some of Peachtree Ridge’s poorest neighborhoods, in the shadows of Gwinnett Place Mall, to Duluth schools.

“I don’t think the original split 10 years ago was done in a way that would balance the demographics,” said Mayor Nancy Harris who served as principal of Harris Elementary, a school in Duluth named after her father. “It caused Duluth High to really have to regroup.”

About half of Duluth High students qualify for free or discounted lunch compared to 32 percent of Peachtree Ridge High students. Duluth feeder schools have a Title I campus that receives federal aid, Chesney Elementary with an 81 percent poverty rate. No Peachtree Ridge feeder schools have that designation. Yet 290 of Peachtree Ridge’s Mason Elementary students are slated to be moved to Chesney, a poorer, slightly lower performing school. Mason is only 13 students over capacity, according to Gwinnett Schools.

Like most metro Atlanta school distrcts, Gwinnett does not consider socio-economics when school boundary lines are drawn to relieve overcrowding.

“We don’t sort students,” said Mary Kay Murphy, the board member who represents Duluth and parts of Peachtree Ridge.

But national experts say that socio-economics should play a role.

“It creates a burden on resources on a school when you have a greater population of poor students … than others in a community,” said Michael Zuba, a senior planner with Milone & MacBroom consultants which advise schools on redistricting. ”You want to spread it out a bit.”

The drain of wealth from Duluth has led to flight and disparities in school programs, though academically Peachtree Ridge and Duluth feeder schools meet and exceed academic expectations on standardized tests and rank among Newsweek magazine’s top 1,000 high schools. Duluth High’s average SAT score is 1556 compared to 1549 for Peachtree Ridge. Peachtree Ridge has a 92 percent graduation rate compared to the Duluth’s 88 percent.

Participation in the Duluth High band dropped from about 100 members to 60 members since the split. “The dues are $500 a student, people can’t afford it like they used to,” said band parent David Lowry.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled

142 comments Add your comment

catlady

April 21st, 2011
9:49 am

How about this: Kids get to go to the school for which they were districted when their parents bought the house or signed the lease, IF the parents are willing to provide transportation if the kid gets later zoned out. Parents would have to declare their intention to use the “former” school. So, if parents buy into zone ABC, but later the house is zoned AFG, they can still attend ABC if parents provide the transportation.

THAT would help worlds with the stress of rezoning. People who move in after the rezoning would have to attend the “new” school.

Liz

April 21st, 2011
9:54 am

Sounds to me like the teachers at the lower income schools are working their tails off. So, Duluth’s kids have higher SAT scores…..and Chesney 80% free and reduced as just “slightly” lower scores then Mason (not Title 1)? Sounds like the better education is at the “lower income schools!”
Kudos to the teachers who help make these students successful!

Just Wondering

April 21st, 2011
10:01 am

The methods used by Wake County, NC have proven that the traditional practice of zoning is flawed at best. The income based methods created 2 benefits, there was no centralization of poverty (this country used housing projects to do that and we see how it worked), and a more effectively balance of resources (i.e. very few title one schools as the extra resources were spread across the district).

The goal should be open enrollment because all schools should be high performers, but that is a very foreign concept in the south.

Cris

April 21st, 2011
10:03 am

As a veteran teacher who has taught in poverty-stricken Title I schools all the way up to the wealthiest upper middle class schools, I have observed one common thing: the parents who are involved in their children’s life and make attempts to expose them to relatively inexpensive cultural opportunities outside of school have successful students – it’s not the districts responsibility to attempt to do this for students. Often the fights over redistricting are more about the parent’s perception of themselves rather than the quality of the education, not to mention non-academic factors such as extracurricular activities. Yes, there are haves and have-nots often next door to each other, but if parents are dead-set on a particular school, go the private route.

westcobbmom5

April 21st, 2011
10:09 am

Cobb County Schools has a disclaimer on their website that says don’t buy a house based on the district that it’s in. You NEVER know what will happen 2, 5, 10 years down the line. The people that buy high end homes & then complain when the lines are redrawn are SNOBS! Get over yourselves. I thought it was illegal to draw lines based on home values/income? My neighborhood is lower than the ones across the road & our kids are sent to a different elementary school than the kids across the way & they are closer to ours than we are!

Nicely Done

April 21st, 2011
10:09 am

Gwinnett BOE has protected the Brookwood and North Gwinnett clusters for years. District lines are drawn all kinds of screwy ways in order to keep their demographics intact.

Chris

April 21st, 2011
10:18 am

Fact: School districts have a direct effect on housing prices. Don’t believe me? Look at the Marietta neighborhoods on the edge of the “Marietta” and “Cobb Cty” school district lines (Allgood Rd. area). Those that fall into the Marietta school districts, sell for as much as $50K less than those on the Cobb Cty school side. It’s one thing if someone buys into a poorly performing district, but it’s quite something else if the city comes in and arbitrarily redistricts you and adversely affects your home’s value overnight.

Kids in the same neighborhood should go to the same school. The argument that it affects high school kids less doesn’t take into account that if the kids don’t grow up going to the same school, the likelihood that they’ll be “friends” in high school is slim.

Lastly, as someone else has pointed out, school performance academically, is directly proportional to parental involvement in the child’s education. Well-performing schools are that way for a reason and their tests, and the programs available to those children, reflect that. Lower the performance of the school by bringing in lower socio-economic students will affect everyone, from the students’ opportunities to the housing prices in the community. There’s a reason that school location is one of the top “selling points” for real estate when the home is in a good school district.

Tonya C.

April 21st, 2011
10:22 am

For anything over $250k, I personally think people can be snobs. I’m sorry, they are paying a poopload of property taxes for the privilege, let’s be honest. Good schools pretty summarily translate into better property values, so let’s be realistic. We actually moved OUT of Brookwood recently because although considered the best, it was FAR from the best choice for us or our kids. And if it doesn’t work out like we hope, our rent is low enough to put the kids in a decent private school.

And income SHOULDN’T play a role in redistricting, only because I’m a strong proponent of neighborhood schools. I went a magnet school on the other end of the county and HATED it.

Trying to be objective

April 21st, 2011
10:25 am

Ultimately, this is the wrong time for this redistricting to occur. New schools (ES/MS) are slated to be built in the Peachtree Ridge cluster opening in 2013 and will require yet another redistricting. Who benefits from 3 changes in 5 years within the same cluster….not the students who are supposed to be the population helped by this procedure. Please think logically, Gwinnett.

westcobbmom5

April 21st, 2011
10:29 am

@Chris there are several neighborhoods where homes sell for 300+ that are in the Marietta School District. The neighborhoods are off Stilesboro/Dallas Hwy & other areas. I think MSD is either have or have not with no inbetween.

say what?

April 21st, 2011
10:33 am

“school performance academically, is directly proportional to parental involvement in the child’s education.” wtw?
Are these kids being separated from their parents when they transfer to another school? No kids and parents are going together to the new school. Sounds more like some parents’ identities are built around the myth of “good school”. If your child moves to another school, you still continue to do the “good”work you were doing at the “good” school.

Furthermore, not all parents are indifferent to involvement, that depends on the welcoming attitude of school administration and staff. Yes those parents who do work hard in “those” schools have learned to manage the land-mine filled maze that is the poor school.

Bottom line, if you work hard for your child’s education in ABC, keep on working it in XYZ.

Teaching in FL is worse

April 21st, 2011
10:35 am

I won’t answer your question, Maureen, but I will tell you education “gerrymandering” is alive and well. I saw schools that did not pass AYP suddenly have their population redistricted. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Gwinnett longtimer

April 21st, 2011
10:42 am

Having been through many a re-districting both here and in another state, I can tell you that it is ALWAYS an emotional issue! Nobody wants to be moved, or have their kids moved . . . and nobody wants their property values to go down. Unfortunately, population shifts require that district lines be redrawn periodically. It is a necessity if school boards are going to be good stewards of our tax dollars. Gotta hand it to those Duluth parents, though – they are sure making a lot of noise in their efforts to keep their schools from changing . . . wonder why this one is getting so much press time.

Glad I can afford to send my children to Pvt School

April 21st, 2011
10:46 am

Tuition for our 3 children is the BEST investment I ever made. I’d rather put my money in my children’s future than an expensive house.

Maureen Downey

April 21st, 2011
10:46 am

@Gwinnett longtimer, I do think “a lot noise” matters. I have seen lines altered because of public outcry in many states. When that does happen, it weakens the school board’s original contention that the new lines were the best plan. When boards are willing to junk their so-called “best” plans because of parental complaints, it reveals the politics of the process and makes the whole issue a lot messier and a lot longer.
Maureen

Self_Made

April 21st, 2011
10:48 am

One of the problems pushing this whole debate is the fact that school districts and county commissions/city councils don’t work together on zoning. When you change the density in an area, it affects the number of students enrolling in the neighborhood schools. When you have a school cluster that was built to accomodade “X” number of families in a particular area, then yuo allow new building that increases the density, it raised the student population to levels that the schools within that attendance area can’t sustain. School system impact needs to be considered when zoning changes are being made and building permits are being issued. School boards should be included in overall planning if for no reason than to speak on the impact of growth and demographic changes that come with it. In most locales that I’m aware of, they are left out of the loop on the front end, then hogtied when trying to deal with the consequences.

Been on Other Side

April 21st, 2011
10:50 am

As a parent, educator, and tax payer, I read this blog daily. In an effort to provide my child with what I perceived to be a better education, I accepted a position at a neighboring county, within one of the “top schools” for that county, solely for the purpose of his education and what that education could offer him in the future. I uprooted him from his districted home school in order to give him what I thought was a better chance at education, in a smaller school with higher stats (so I thought and was told) than the school he was districted to attend (again, so I thought and were told). After 2 years at this “steller” school, he and his father finally communicated to me what I was sensing and seeing with my own eyes -this school was not what I thought it was and it was not benefitting my son. As a result, he returned to his districted home school and experienced a 2 year loss of education values and importance that flows from one district to another. My heart sank when I realized that I had done this to him; had I left him where he was (where my taxes paid) instead of looking for the golden ticket based upon claims and stats, he would have been better served.

Uprooting our children to serve the needs of the adult (perception of better schools) can be damaging as well as beneficial. My experience was negative for my son. Although school districts have to adjust their boundaries when the economy of the county is changed, I believe that the students are best served in their local schools – not transported away from them. The dynamics of our economy often dictates our services for the population – sad but true. However, overall, educators are in the field of education because they want to be there – for the student – not the pay, not the stats, and not the troubling saga that seems to be growing for the education system as a whole.

Self_Made

April 21st, 2011
10:53 am

@Gwinnett longtimer…you sound a lot like some S. DeKalb parents who were just beginning to develop good schools but stand to lose the ground they’ve gained thanks to the well-organized, politically connected, and very loud Dunwoody/N. DeKalb parents. Areas south of US-78 suffer at the whims of those folks, who have managed to keep their attendance lines stagnant for years…all for preserving their property values. You can’t hate them for it, but lets call it what it is.

Warrior Woman

April 21st, 2011
10:59 am

@say what? – If your students are tranferred from a school where 80% of parents are involved to a school where 10% are involved, it doesn’t matter how hard you work. You will never overcome the disadvantage created by the lack of parental involvement of hte classmates’ parents.

@ Tonya C – I agree! Neighborhood schools perform better than incoherent districts, and are more consistent with long-term parent and community support.

Some of the things that are done in redistricting are absurd. For example, a few years ago Cobb County drew elementary schools lines that resulted in one neighborhood’s students being sent to a particular school when there were 5 closer elementary schools. In fact, the school buses drove past 2 elementary schools on the way to the assigned school. Similarly, the district tried to inappropriately use race to draw school lines when Lovinggood and Hillgrove opened.

Lake Claire to Toomer Supporter

April 21st, 2011
11:13 am

This example is playing out right now with the Lake Claire are not wanting to attend Toomer school that is geographically closer to them. Per a Lake Clair resident.

“There is nothing racist about not wanting to have the rug pulled out from under you. With respect, my wife and I moved to Lake Claire precisely because Mary Lin was well established. We considered Edgewood, Oakhurst, and Kirkwood, but, while we could have bought a bigger house and saw some good signs that there were some committed folks working on turning around the schools, we ultimately decided to
take the “safe” path and stick with the neighborhoods that were further along in pushing the schools up. And now, APS is basically telling us “sorry!” So, you can see how we might be kind of upset. Also, our property values would likely fall, which would really screw
up an already bad real estate market, which would cause other problems… These are big, bad, scary issues that we can’t run away from, and many of us, including myself, are just now really becoming aware of them–the cold water in the face realization I think is hitting a lot of us.”

Aaron

April 21st, 2011
11:13 am

I believe you should keep the thugs with the thugs and white/rich with white/rich. That way, they can do their thing and bring guns to school, shoot each other, sell drugs, etc. Isn’t it funny that you never hear about big problems in schools in East Cobb, Alpharetta, etc? I went to Wheeler which was about half and half back in the mid 90’s. I would have enjoyed high school much more if the thugs were not there. All they did was caused trouble. I will never forget the day OJ was found innocent. The bell rang and they were running down the halls screaming “The juice is loose, the juice is loose!” Yea, that’s normal.

drew (former teacher)

April 21st, 2011
11:19 am

Geography should be the primary (perhaps the ONLY) factor in school redistricting, and gerrymandering should not be tolerated. Yeah, some will win, and some will lose, but that’s life. If parents don’t like their assigned public schools, they can move, home school, or go private.

Liz

April 21st, 2011
11:20 am

@Been to the Other Side: 100% agree.
I worked in a Title 1 school for 10 years. Those teachers were the hardest working teachers I’ve ever seen. The students were poor, and often homeless, but their education was stellar. Now, I am at a more affluent school, and the teachers are more slack because the kids “already know it.”

Which one is better? You decide.

Lake Claire to Toomer Supporter

April 21st, 2011
11:24 am

The fear mentioned above by Lake Claire neighbors is even accusing the under enrolled school that they do not want to be rezoned to as being a a toxic school. Their comments are racist and toxic.

“For us, we would like to keep in mind that Toomer is adjacent to an empty, toxic site (a brownfield). As we discussed in earlier meetings with the group, crossing Dekalb and Marta is really scary. The chicken lanes changing each day, alone scare me in my own car. I am all for adaptive re-use of an existing structure, but maybe not Toomer. about brownfields.”

TR

April 21st, 2011
11:27 am

Whatever conserves the most gas for buses.
Common sense needs to triumph over preferences.

APS parent

April 21st, 2011
11:46 am

I like the approach of catlady’s @ 9:49 — let kids stay at the schools for which they were districted when their parents bought their house or signed their lease. This may not be a perfect way to do it, but it at least avoids the unfairness of redistricting someone out of particular schools after they have already made the effort and investment to move/buy into a particular area for the schools.

usually lurking

April 21st, 2011
11:52 am

@catlady and @APS parent – the high school students are allowed to stay at their original school if they provide transportation. While I like your suggestion on the surface, I imagine the administrative task of tracking who is allowed to attend which school could be burdensome. I wonder though how many parents would really make the effort to stay at their original school when all is said and done.

Write Your Board Members

April 21st, 2011
11:56 am

Self-made, Dunwoody was pretty well redistricted this time around. I think that many of the S. DeKalb schools, that are being closed, are located in areas, where there aren’t enough children to fill those schools, even if they were A+ schools.

What was criminal was that most of the county was left untouched. The noise the Fernbank parents made effectively rendered our BoE useless. So very little redistricting of any value occurred.

Things change!

April 21st, 2011
12:00 pm

If you want to make sure you aren’t redistricted, you need to buy a house right next to the school. Schools get redistricted all the time. If you buy a house in a “good” school that is actually closer to a less desirable school in the same district, you are taking a risk. If you buy a house where the schools surrounding yours are not acceptable to you, you are taking a risk. You can’t rely on the assigned schools when you buy never changing. Schools close, schools open, population changes. If you failed to consider the risk of redistricting when you made your purchase, that was a mistake.

westcobbmom5

April 21st, 2011
12:08 pm

I’m getting the overall impression that just because you have money your kids deserve a better education. Maybe at the “bad” schools the parents aren’t as involved because they are working & the “better” schools have more SAHM moms that can go to the school & be there all day. FYI there are other ways to help out at school than just being in the building: you can help during clean up days, help with carpool, fundraising, fairs/carnivals/festivals, the teacher can send projects home for you to work on & send back.

Lake Claire to Toomer Supporter

April 21st, 2011
12:09 pm

Good point “Things change!”,

Lake Claire is geographically closer to Toomer than to Mary Lin. It is also closer to Coan Middle School than Inman Middle School. It is simple math.

Duluth Cluster Mom

April 21st, 2011
12:10 pm

One thing I have learned during this redistricting process is that the Duluth cluster is a much better fit for our family than the Peachtree Ridge cluster. I’d much rather be part of a community that realizes we are all in this together than a community who only cares if they are directly affected by any changes.

Cassie

April 21st, 2011
12:12 pm

Wow, I am in the midst of a lengthy “conversation” with my husband about his daughter’s (my stepdaughter’s) education. We have different views about public education – I went to public schools in a upper-middle-class town where a lot of the parents were professors, lawyers, doctors, etc., and received an excellent education. My husband attended public schools in a lower-middle-class city and felt like his education was substandard. So far I have been winning the argument because Mary Lin is a neighborhood school, and I have been able to convince him that she is having a good experience there as well as receiving a decent education.

If they redistrict Mary Lin, I won’t be able to make that argument any more and my stepdaughter will be put into private school!

Glad I can afford to send my children to Pvt School

April 21st, 2011
12:13 pm

APS parent

April 21st, 2011
11:46 am

I thought you were moving to the south side so your children would get a diverse education.. I would suggest they carry a 45 because they don’t make a 46.

justbrowsing

April 21st, 2011
12:14 pm

The fact that redistricting remains such a hot button issue shows the influence parents have on the quality, or its lack, in neighborhood schools. Communities dictate how successful or not a community is. There have been schools in low SES communities that thrived because parental support was ongoing (parents liked and believed in the principal). It has been a while since I have seen it (well over 10 years). In addition, these schools would use funding to address those gap experiences that often set one SES group apart from another. These kids would get a chance to be involed in so many things that they were too busy to entertain negative influences in the community. Also, the parents did what they needed to access these experiences and keep their children involved- even if they were single parents. These schools did just fine and demographics did not determine their success. Today- I see so many parents blaming shortcomings on schools it is rediculous. It is these very communities that are often in decline.

APS parent

April 21st, 2011
12:17 pm

“There is nothing racist about not wanting to have the rug pulled out from under you. With respect, my wife and I moved to Lake Claire precisely because Mary Lin was well established. We considered Edgewood, Oakhurst, and Kirkwood, but, while we could have bought a bigger house and saw some good signs that there were some committed folks working on turning around the schools, we ultimately decided to
take the “safe” path and stick with the neighborhoods that were further along in pushing the schools up. And now, APS is basically telling us “sorry!” So, you can see how we might be kind of upset. Also, our property values would likely fall, which would really screw
up an already bad real estate market, which would cause other problems… These are big, bad, scary issues that we can’t run away from, and many of us, including myself, are just now really becoming aware of them–the cold water in the face realization I think is hitting a lot of us.”

The above pretty well sums up the understandable angst felt by those threatened with redistricting after making the decision to buy a house in an area primarily because of the schools. Buying a house is a life-changing decision, and so a school district changing the rules or pulling the rug out from under someone after they made such a life-changing decision is pretty serious. People in this situation should at least have the option of staying at the schools for which they were districted when they bought the house or signed the lease.

The Right Thing To Do

April 21st, 2011
12:19 pm

os3i (4/21/2011 at 10:50 AM) Report Violation People who think Kobe is not a top 10 player of all time will never think he will so don’t waste your breath. They will pull out that tired he needed Shaq line, but guess what, Shaq needed Kobe too; remember that Hakeem sweep of the Magic by the Rockets? Shaq never carried the Lakers to the title all by himself and he certainly needed D. Wade for the Heat. When it is all said and done, Shaq would have played on 6 teams and will go out in a way not deserving of the dominating player he once was. Even if the Celtics won the title this year (that is a big IF based on how they are barely getting by a far inferior Knick team), Shaq should be ashamed if he tried to “claim” this ring.

It will not matter, Kobe will get # 6 this year and if D. Howard ends up with the Lakers, he will get # 7 before he retires and eclipse the beloved Jordan and it will still be fools out there saying he is not a top ten player of all time, heck you can say he has had a better career than Bird who many consider top 5 (and Bird had plenty of HOF talent surrounding him, Parrish, McHale, DJ, and Walton, so don’t paint revisionist history like he did it all by himself).
——
I already think Kobe is better than Bird. He’s either matched or exceeded Bird in every single category except regular season MVP’s.

The Right Thing To Do

April 21st, 2011
12:20 pm

Sorry, wrong blog, lol.

Tonya C.

April 21st, 2011
12:22 pm

@been on the other side:

That is what happened to us. We ended up in what is considered a great cluster, but it was a poor match for us and our son. Rather than take the risk with his sister, we decided to move. Everything isn’t the best for everyone.

Tonya C.

April 21st, 2011
12:28 pm

westcobbmom5:

You are correct that there are many ways to assist at your child’s school. Problem is for so many of the “not-so-good” schools, many parents just don’t care enough to pitch in at all. There are Title I and low SES schools with excellent scores and great reputations because the community may not be well-off but invests in the schools (I recently moved to one). But there are MANY other Title I or low SES schools where the parent apathy is enormous. I think that is more of what is being described in the article.

Dogwood

April 21st, 2011
12:28 pm

“Gwinnett BOE has protected the Brookwood and North Gwinnett clusters for years. District lines are drawn all kinds of screwy ways in order to keep their demographics intact”

As for Brookwood, they really have no room to grow. They have physical (street) boundaries of US 78 and GA 124. Most of the land surrounding BHS and its feeder schools is built out. Brookwood parents have done an excellent job in the past fighting developers with apartments and townhomes.

Gwinnett longtimer

April 21st, 2011
12:36 pm

From what i have heard and seen about Duluth it is more about keeping folks out of their school than folks not wanting to go there. Also to compare any of this to whats happening in Wake county, nc (another place i lived) is a stretch. Wake county has clearly defined areas with vastly different socio economic populations. Gwinnett does not.

amazed

April 21st, 2011
12:38 pm

Catlady has an excellent idea in grandfathering in students. It doesn’t help on the home value issue, but things do change. As for buying a house very close to the school, look at Dekalb’s high schools new zones. Virtually all of the area around Towers HS is zoned to Columbia now.

Parental involvement improved the Dekalb redistricting. There were a lot of ridiculous things done by people who had limited knowledge of what is a very large district. The consultant was primarily equalizing utilization without considering educational approaches, traffic, geography or many other factors. And a lot of times you can draw lines on the map, but people simply won’t go. They will move or go to private schools. I suspect that will happen to most of the Lake Claire parents with children.

amazed

April 21st, 2011
12:47 pm

As for Marueen’s question:
Redistricting needs to live in the real world.

Intact neighborhoods promote involvement. That is a good thing.

Feeder systems, however, aren’t very important except to athletic teams.

If you put too many low income neighborhoods in one school, the middle class will leave, making it more difficult for the school to succeed. The Duluth parents in the article have a real concern. It shouldn’t be just the poorer areas that get moved out of Peachtree Ridge.

And finally, you need to consider whether the people will actually go to the new school. Moving a bunch of kids from an upper middle class area to a Title I school will simply drive students out of the system, defeating your purpose.

APS parent

April 21st, 2011
12:52 pm

@Things change! Give me a break — buy a house right next to the school?? Should you buy three houses, next to the elementary, middle, and high schools in your district? Or move three times? What if you have multiple kids, one at elementary, one at middle, and one at high school — live in 3 places at once? Also, redistricting does not “happen all the time” — in a given area it might not happen for decades — Lake Claire has attended Mary Lin for over 75 years. If you were in this situation you would not be so cavalier about it.

@Lake Claire to Toomer Supporter Are you sending your kid(s) to Coan MS? Will you do so without forcing all or part of Lin to go there too? Will you happily send your kid(s) to Jackson HS if you are redistricted there? (After all, Jackson is closer to Toomer than Grady — it’s just simple math.)

FBT

April 21st, 2011
1:15 pm

It is not the role of the school board to make everything fair. The school board is charged with providing high quality educations to all students. Schools can not and should not be expected to make up for the differences among families.

TenderRoni

April 21st, 2011
1:17 pm

I’m moving from the south side to Cobb County, does anyone know about Kings Springs Elem or Griffen Middle. I researched them online, but you never know what you get until you actually get there, these days.

And parental involvement does make a differnece!

Cassie

April 21st, 2011
1:17 pm

“And finally, you need to consider whether the people will actually go to the new school. Moving a bunch of kids from an upper middle class area to a Title I school will simply drive students out of the system, defeating your purpose.”

True – my husband will take his daughter out of the Atlanta Public Schools in a hot second if that is what ends up happening….

b

April 21st, 2011
1:18 pm

Lived through three different redistricting with a fourth looming for us. The first two were fine; we agreed the new school would be a very good option for our kids and we were correct. Both the middle school and the high school rose to the top of the heap in the state academically. Our oldest received a great education in schools that were new when we were redistricted. Unfortunately Fulton’s BOE decided that the wonderful high school that we had helped build up, investing time and effort in both academics and athletic, was no longer available to our youngest. Instead our development was carved out to go, not to another new school, but rather to an older one. One where the tests scores were lower, and more important to us, where special educational services were not as well developed. Since they did have some services we were not allowed to hardship so we ended up going the private school route. Nevermind that the school we thought we would attend had everything needed according to the IEP. Additionally, housing prices dropped, and not just because of the economy. When we look at the prices of homes in the developments around us that were allowed to stay, ours dropped at almost a 4 times higher rate. Bitter, of course. Our housing prices drop, we pay the private school tuition (which I really do not begudge as it has been a great experience and the education has been wonderful), but now the BOE has decided that we will be redistricted again…..back to the great high school, but too late for our child; will only have senior year left and we are not going to switch for that. IMO going to a new school is fine, although it takes a lot of work on the parents part. Being redistricted to a poorer performing school lacking the services, classes and facilities without choice is what causes many parents to raise their voices in opposition.

Lynn43

April 21st, 2011
1:24 pm

One element not mentioned is the U.S. Justice Department. Some systems are still under their orders and ALL changes must be approved. Do any of your districts continue to be forced to answer to these people?