Friday Question of the Day – Will You (Do You) Send Your Children to School in DC?

Photo of ‘Shenanigans with the marquee at Garrison Elementary’ by PoPville reader JS

In Feb. we had a discussion about schools in PoPville and I was (happily) surprised to hear many positive recommendations. Just a few years ago if I spoke to people who had young children or were planning on having them about 95% said they would move out of DC when it was time to send their kids to school. So I’d like to revisit that question to see if sentiments have changed over the years.

For the Friday Question of the Day – very simply – will you (do you) send your children to school in DC? If yes, will you/do you send them to public school, charter school or private school?

I’ve also heard that it is common to send your children to elementary school in DC but then move when they reach middle school or high school age – do you plan on sending your children to school in DC through high school?

201 Comment

  • notlawd

    I don’t have any kids, but if I did, I wouldn’t move away once they were of school age. I believe the key to giving your child a good education is your involvement. Plus, it’s never going to get better if the people that care all move away.

    • I want to believe that parental involvement is enough, I really do, but I just don’t think it can make up for a toxic institutional environment.

    • Seriously? You can be the best most involved parent on earth but stick your shy daughter in a class of 20+ misbehaving kids and see how much attention she’s going to get. I don’t have kids but if I ever do that’s the biggest investment I’ll ever make it’s out to Maryland or private school.

    • With all due respect, only a childless person would say that. Your kid’s education is their future, and you don’t mess with it. You give them the best you can.

      • I have two kids in the DC School system. It’s being a parent that make the child a good student. That’s giving the best you can.

        • it’s also who they hang out with. thats a major factor, maybe more important than the school.

    • saf

      Yep. No kids here, but I am the product of a struggling public school system. Got a good education because of dedicated parents and teachers and a good education in life from the rest of it.

  • pfft who knows. SSCCATAGAPP all day.

  • Enrolled in a DC public school (not a charter) for this fall. I think it’ll be great.

    As for later, well… yes, parental involvement is necessary, but not sufficient. I’m hoping for the best, and intend to throw what little weight I have into it. If it comes to a choice between moving or ponying up for private, and sending my child through metal detectors to attend classes with disruptive and dangerous kids, indifferent teachers, and crumbling facilities, I will choose one of the former. I will be involved enough to determine the reality, and not act out of fear, as many seem to.

    • good answer.

      • My kids are at Roosevelt where they have a GREAT crop of teachers—very, very dedicated and motivated.
        The administrators, on the other hand, leave much to be desired. Can’t get phone calls returned when there’s a problem, etc. But I can’t say enough about the teachers there. They also have some great programs, which may be in jeopardy, including the culinary arts program, which is run by the very wonderful, tireless, and talented Chef Monroe. Go Rough Riders!

        • I am a product of Roosevelt (class of 89) back when DC was the “Murder Capital” … I have a Masters Degree and was halfway through another one when I took a job in Europe in 2001… I have lived in three different countries in the past 10 years because of my job (I’m currently emailing from Korea)… I’m living proof that achievement is 90 percent personal responsibility and parental involvement!

  • I always laugh at the “cool” white folks that move to the BIG city (DC) from the suburbs to live in a “condo” and then 2 years later they panic because she’s pregnate and they just bought a “condo” and the thoughts of them having to send their child to an all black school just scares them to death. The next couple of years are spent tirelessly trying to find a white private school. Then of course this whole “cool” city move seems to have been for all the wrong reasons and far too expensive and back to the ‘burbs they go.
    Sorry, was it ok that I, as a black woman, responded to this question? Or was this just for the white folks?

    • no, it’s great you answered. we needed someone to assume things like racism, rather than the desire for quality education for their children. nice job playing the part.

    • I have to say that this attitude is not at all called for. I am a mother, yes, a white mother, who moved into the district when my daughters were 2.5 years old and 4 days old, respectively. I sent them both to childcare in a local baptist church, where they were the singular minority in their classes. I hopped on board with a new charter school, which opened in time for my older to attend PK4 there – and it is a charter school with an excellent record of drawing kids from all over the city, from all different neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds, and, yes, of all different colors. Indeed, the percentages are pretty representative of the city as a whole. I sent my younger daughter to PK3 at a DCPS school this year, where she is the only white kid in her class. She’ll be going to the charter school with her sister next year.
      So, did I move into the city to be cool? No. Did I say ‘oh, god, too many black kids!’ No. My local DCPS school is OK, but not what I would call high performing. My daughter’s teacher looks bored (how can you be bored in a room full of 3 and 4 year olds??) There are pretty serious communication problems between the school and the parents. The facilities are good, but the academic expectations are not high enough, and my daughter isn’t challenged. That said, in a few years, it might be. I have hope that, with a good principal and better teachers, that it will start to achieve.
      Does MY decision about what school to choose (and it is a CHOICE) have ANYTHING to do with the skin color of their classmates and teachers? Hell no! It is about the education. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. Because if I was choosing schools based on any other criteria, I would be a bad mother.
      And you know what? My daughter made a new friend at school this year. She came home telling me about her new friend. . . and described her to me. She said “she has brown eyes and brownish black hair, and has a cool backpack that’s pink! She likes to read Ramona books like me! We drew pictures together today, it was fun! Oh, and she has these really cool beads in her hair. Can I get beads in my hair too, mom?”
      My lovely little girl didn’t even think to use race as an identifier. THAT, my friends, is priceless.

      • A thoughtful and well reasoned response, elizqueenmama, but wasted on Lisa. She only came here to stir the pot and be belligerent.

        • And you’ll notice that she has yet to respond to clarify herself or her position. She’s not here to really participate in a debate, she’s just a racist, a bigot and a troll.

        • I don’t think the name-calling and ranting really furthers the conversation. Elizqueenmama’s response does, however. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    • Let me fix that for you:

      I [have observed] the [admittedly nerdy] white folks who move to the [second tier] city (DC) from the [all across America] to live in a “condo” … 2 years later they [weigh school options] because she’s [knocked up]; they just bought a “condo” and the thoughts of them having to send their [spawn] to an all black school [would be worthy of parental high-fives and dancing if it’s an excellent, free school]. The next couple of years are spent tirelessly trying to [get into a good school]. Then of course this whole [admittedly nerdy] city move seems to have been for [preferences that childless folks have] and … expensive. [Then if they can’t get into a good public school, charter school, or affordable private school, they move to another neighborhood which has a good school.]

    • @Lisa… Really? You are ridiculous. News Flash: I’m white, I live in DC, and I’m not afraid of black people. I went to an all black high school and it was a non-issue. YOU are the only one who cares about race in this topic. The rest of us are only concerned with the level of education our kids or future kids will receive. So keep laughing at us and making assumptions if it makes you feel better about yourself.

    • Lisa is right. I have observed this among many white poeple I know.

      • you should adjust your circles.

        • I’m not wholeheartedly standing behind Lisa because she’s making far too many assumptions, but if you don’t think that at least some white couples in DC feel this way, you’re kidding yourself. We can all agree that it is a racist sentiment though. On the other hand, props to all the PoPers who aren’t those people. Our children deserve better than homogeneity.

          • of course some white people feel this way. no one is denying that there are racists. yes. of course there are. my suggestion is that if these people are within your circles, you need to change your circles. if you even think it’s a sizable portion of white people here in dc that are racists, you need to get out and meet more white people.

      • You’re full of shit.

    • I think this post must be fake. on the off chance that it’s not, I hope that you get to spend some more time around white people so you don’t feel like we’re such strangers to you. this reminds me of the gap in communication and interaction between white and black communities (with black women in particular) and it’s disappointing but I’m hopeful things will get better.

      It’s astounding that you think white people have a problem with sending their kids to a predominantly black school. the population you’re slamming is the same population that views diversity as an asset and probably wanted to move to the city so their children would grow up with black and latino friends. honestly, what better way to teach your children than to send them to a diverse school?

      my fear is that you probably mean to be saying is that you don’t want these white people in the city anyway.

    • racism will eat you alive, sister. for your sake and the sake of the children in your community, don’t let it.

    • Is “Pregnate” a nod to the internet meme? If so, bravo. If not, it makes me think you went to DC Public Schools yourself.

    • Why is condo in quotes? Are the cool white folks actually renting and saying they bought a condo?

    • You’re an idiot.

    • Reading the replies you should not be surprised about the attacks yet they are the barkings of a privileged class who think they can define what racism is to a black person. Le Sigh. Race and class are inseperable in this city because of historical institutional and individual racism by white people. The people who are afraid of DCPS may be because they feel like their children are not the same class of student as current DCPS students who are predominately Black and lower middle to lower class. Is it because they are black or because they are poor? Who can say? When DCPS is filled with poor white students and there are still this many people on a board with such distain for DCPS students, teachers and administration, then we will know.

  • Lisa has a good point, but it hurts that she laughs about it. Racism is hurting this country and this city big time, both directions. I am of fair-skinned European descent with as far as I know no real ties to slavery or oppression, my kids the same, I didn’t move from the burbs, my family actually has some roots here and helped spawn diversity when it became popular during a harsh time, and I, as the (not so) “cool” white guy living here actually (kind of) like being in a school with diversity of skin color (except for Lisa’s comment), cultural heritage, and musical and manners taste (kind of). It’s what makes our country great (and so freakin’ problematic), isn’t it. Let’s embrace our future together and get Obama reelected for Christ’s sake, for the real enemy is the right wing rhetoric machine! (or our debt to China, our weak labor force, our aging population’s impact on our medical system, and our dependence on crude and fracking).

    • Lisa can bite me. I don’t plan on making any statements – “I’m a hip white dude who’s cool with the black folks” – when it comes to my kids’ education. They’ll go to the best schools I can afford, period. And the fact is that the Washington suburbs offer the best public schools in the country — and Washington DC some of the worst. No parent need apologize for doing the best he can for his kids.

      • +1000. My daughter is in a great charter school, just finishing PK3. We plan to stay for as long as we feel confortable that she’s getting a good education and that she’s in a safe environemtn that is conducive to learning. That likely will be at least 3-4 more years. We’ll continually assess the school, and make our decision accordingly.

        While I agree in theory with the sentiment “if people keep leaving, things will never change,” I’m not willing to use my daughter as part of the experiment while we have other options. If she’s not getting the education she deserves (that all kids deserve, really, but I only have control over her) we will move to the burbs (aargh) or do private (aargh) in a heartbeat. Selfish? Maybe, but my primary responsibility is her, not some societal duty to DC schools or all the other children in DC. I don’t see how you could have any other position and call yourself a responsible parent.

        • +1000
          “my primary responsibility is her, not some societal duty to DC schools or all the other children in DC. I don’t see how you could have any other position and call yourself a responsible parent.”

          You can only control the kid under your roof.

    • me

      I don’t understand why people seem to expect the absolute worst of me simply because I’m white. If people are fighting against racism, don’t start it all over again.

  • Au contraire, some of the DC public school offerings, especialy now that Ms. Rhee and Fenty have planted some seeds, have some real hope and promise for our kids, especially the PS programs. Let’s foster it more.

  • Well since we are acknowledging race, I am a Black parent, with Black kids and a product of DCPS, elementary through high school. Will I send my kids to DCPS? Sure if my child can receive a good education. They will most likely attend Charter schools, Roots through elementary, Paul Charter middle, and Ellington or Banneker, which are not charters, to be exact. And elizqueen good for you for embracing the community you moved into. You are the exception, not the norm.

  • This thread is going to be epic. I’m betting 150+ comments. Getting the popcorn ready!

  • 2 (white) kids in a charter and we love it. No complaints. To be fair, I can’t see staying here in HS, but we’ll see what happens when that time comes.

    • gotryit

      out of curiosity, which charter?

    • saf

      “I can’t see staying here in HS,”

      Why not?

      • The WaPo used to have sortable statistics online for all DC schools. I once ran them for all DC public high schools and just put in the barest of criteria that I would find acceptable: something like 50% of students that passed both their math and reading basic skills tests and didn’t have more than 25 crimes reported in the past year. The result I got? Not one single high school.

        So unless those numbers have drastically improved, that’s why not. (And for the record, even a high school that met those criteria wouldn’t be up to the standards I have for my kids, especially not when I have the ability to move and put my kid at no charge in MoCo, Arlington, or Fairfax schools.)

        • That was my first look at DC schools – the test scores. If a school showed high enough test numbers, I’d give it a thought. My neighborhood elementary schools are showing less than 50% passed reading and math tests. So you start looking at what DC elementary schools are testing well and then look at the housing in those neighborhoods and you’re spending almost $1M for a house. Move across the line to Montgomery County and you’ll spend the same for a house and be able to send your kids to great public schools until they graduate. Move to Silver Spring and get great schools, a diverse neighborhood and maybe even an affordable house.

  • With a few exceptions, I would not have my child in a DC public school, or even most of the charters I have seen. I moved into this city with full awareness that I would likely be paying for private school someday, and my stance hasn’t changed. Many of the schools here are simply not up to my standards. I want better for my kids, and I’m willing to pay for it. Flame away.

    • totally your decision. i’d just say please take a look at the schools and the kids who attend when it’s time for you to decide. you may find that some are actually worth attending.

      • Oh, absolutely. I would strongly prefer to not spend that 20K a year on private education, especially considering I’m a public education product and high-minded enough to think I should be able to send my child to schools that my taxes fund. But so far, it just doesn’t look good. Hopefully the next few years will bring some positive changes.

  • I plan on screaming and making a scene in local meetings when the decrepit, rodent-ridden, energy hog of a school building in my neighborhood–that has been enrolled at about 1/3 capacity since the early 90s–closes or is proposed to close because enough people like me make it politically tenuous for those in charge.

  • As with most of these discussions it’s not about race, but about class. And the quality of the schools depend more on the parents than the teachers and facilities.

    Unfortunately there are lots of low-income parents in DC who don’t value education as a means of getting ahead. Even if they do recognize the value of education, many view it passively as something the government needs to deliver to their kids. Middle-class parents understand that most education takes place outside the classroom, when you read to your kid, take them to interesting places, answer their questions, etc. Learning is hard work – it doesn’t just happen by putting on a school uniform and sitting at a desk.

    So I personally don’t blame parents who want to protect their kids from a disfunctional culture by enrolling in private or suburban schools. But I also believe that good values and standards enforced at home can overcome the lack of parental involvement of fellow classmates.

    • That’s the thing, though – I feel like I will already be working hard enough with my kids’ education as it is, I can’t also make up everything they don’t get by going to a bad school. I’m going to be heavily involved with their education no matter what; I don’t want to undermine that by not giving them all the tools I possibly can.

      This is something that even private school parents need to understand. If you really want your kids to excel, parental involvement is needed no matter how good your school is.

  • Now way in Hell would I send my kids to DC public schools…if that bothers some, too bad. It isn’t about race, it’s about providing your kids with the best possible education you can, be it public or private. I feel sad for individuals like “Lisa” above, who don’t get that. Why would I want to send my child to an istitution that promotes just getting by rather than really challenging them. Until Lisa and others like her, stop providing material that only reinforces a negative stereotype, then she is just part of the problem.

  • Hail Gonzaga

    • Gonzaga is a great school. With college education tuition prices! Unfortunately most people can’t afford that.

      • Have you compared Gonzaga to somewhere like Washington International or Georgetown Day? It’s downright cheap in comparison. Seriously.

    • Gonzaga? Might as well send your kid to Dunbar.


  • Yep, fine morning for a 300 comment race/class riot.

  • I’m so glad I live in the suburbs and plan to never have kids!

    • interesting. what’s the point of living in the suburbs if you don’t have kids? wouldn’t the city or country be much more fulfilling?

      • I like having a car, a big backyard and living in a quiet neighborhood. I only work in DC because I found a contract job a few years ago that’s worked out okay and I haven’t found anything better yet.

        • I have all those things in the city, plus a 10 minute commute! 😉

        • have you heard of Petworth? 😉

          • As someone who lives in a similar neighborhood to Petworth (except no big backyards), I completely understand the desire to live out of the city. The only thing that keeps me here is the house I bought is beautiful and my commute is short. You have to be on your toes though. You cant leave things sitting in your car, you cant accidentally leave your back gate unlocked, strangers are oftentimes actually strange, not lost. Don’t get me wrong, theres a lot to like about living here – but there’s a lot to like about living somewhere else too.

          • +1 on that. I love living in the city, but it comes with a price. Got up the other morning to find someone had dumped a mattress against my fence ON my property! (Not in the alley, like other dumpers.)

            Worse than that, I found a pile of what I believe to be human feces next to my gate. Again, on my property, not in the bushes of the alley.

            I don’t even mention this kind of sh-t to my VA friends for fear of getting that pity/judgement look from them.

    • so happy for you.

    • saf

      OK, so why are you commenting on a blog about urban living? Our place, not so much yours.

  • gotryit

    1.5 year old that will likely be in some form of DCPS, although probably charter unless we can afford to live in a neighborhood where the schools aren’t horrible. I’m just looking for it to be safe enough – we’ll make sure she gets a great education, even if it’s not all from the school.

    • Fingers crossed for you and everyone who says “probably a charter.” We applied to 10 charter schools for PS3 this year and got into nothing. Our waitlist numbers are all 200+. We all have the same chances, just go into it with your eyes open.

  • My white kid is in a PS program in a historically “all black” (god I had the racism in this country) school. We’re pretty happy with it. The teachers are great, the school facility is great, and most of the kids are really sweet.

    • Hi, Anonymous. Would you mind posting your child’s school? These school issues have become a daily conversation in my house, as our twins are a just over a year away from diving into the pool.

      FWIW, when I was a child (right around the era of the hardening of the earth’s crust) my parents just took me to the local school and things seemed to work out fine.

  • ARRGH CAPTCHA ate my comment!
    Not about race it’s about class. Note Buppie parents in PG moving further out to other counties (Howard, Charles) to avoid the DC poor moving into PG.
    We’re trying for kids (DIY & adoption) and we’ve pondered the options of Catholic/Christian school, charter school and maybe homeschooling. Maybe, maybe DCPS if the neighborhood school meets our needs. If it doesn’t forget it.
    A lot of the small kids that I know in my neighborhood go to charters. What happens when they reach middle and high school age is anyone’s guess.

  • how much do private schools cost anyway? I’m probably 6-7 years from having my hypothetical kids enter school but I always figured they were for the uber rich (10-30k/year). plus, what a freaking waste of money! you could use that money to supplement their public school education with trips, lessons, a million other things. I grew up in fairfax with a few friends who went to private school there, and some of them were the dumbest, least-educated kids I knew.

    • Private schools in DC are anywhere between $10k (for church affiliated schools) and $30k+ for your Georgetown Day and Sidwell Friends strata.

      • That’s if you get into the sidwells and Georgetown friends. The most ridiculous thing I’ve seen is well-heeled and successful parents of 2 year olds groveling at the feet of people who might have some impact on admission to those schools. (and no knock on those places — it’s just that you can’t count on cutting a check and having your kid go there.)

    • Probably the dumbest kids you know because their parents had to be dumb to drop that much money on private school instead of letting their kids go to some of the best public schools in the nation for free.

  • I see friends who are deciding whether to stay in the District because of this very issue, and I ask myself how much fuss it is worth. These are highly educated parents who provide a stimulating life for their children at home, and it makes me wonder how much a mediocre school can undermine a home life that provides so much nourishment.

    On the other hand, I see kids with rotten home lives whom, I assume, wouldn’t thrive in even the best of schools.

    Does the research offer any consensus on the importance of home life in counteracting or overcoming poor schools? Even poor schools have good students, and if children largely learn from their parents and closest friends, can’t active parental involvement (including helping to choose their children’s friends) make a big diffrence?

  • hang on a tick, can we talk about that picture accompanying the post? photoshopped?

    • You can see that the glass is open. So my guess is someone stopped by and quickly changed the text from Thank you DC for a hand. Job well done. to what you see above.

  • I moved from DC to Maryland last year. 90% of the reason for my move was my 2 year old. I had a condo in Adams-Morgan but I much, much, much would have preferred to buy a house in DC. Bethesda is freaking boring and this green plant matter in my yard keeps demanding weekly attention. That’s why I still read DC blogs. It’s all I’ve got. But there is no way on earth that I was going to send my kid(s) to a DC school and I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars a year for private school (plus I get annoyed by people who claim they are so hip because they raise their kids in DC while living a block from Maryland and sending the kids to Sidwell Friends).

    My wife is a teacher (in the burbs) and she would not approve of DC public schools. Nor would I. I hope there are some charter schools that will pan out and I hope that public schools are getting better. From what I’ve read, that is happening, especially at the elementary level. But for me it’s very comforting knowing that I don’t need to fight to find and get my kids into the right schools.

    A good education is 50% teachers and schools and 50% peers. And like it or not a large portion of the DC population doesn’t give a crap about education. So I bought my house where I am surrounded by fellow DC expats who all moved where we moved for the education. It’s a lovely neighborhood and man do I miss DC. Now I just need to keep my kids away from BMW driving lacrosse players…..

    • man, what do your friends do for a living to afford 30k-60k/year in tuition for 20 years of their lives?? does one spouse work a 6-figure job solely to send the kids to school? inquiring minds want to know because they are contemplating a career change. is the education at these schools seriously THAT much better? even in the next few years when I and my spouse will be making over 250 combined, I just don’t see how we could EVER afford to send kids to private school.

    • I hear you. I have my first on the way, and have been putting away money every month for private school. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually saving for a house in Bethesda!

  • I’ve been encouraged by the changes that Janey and Rhee have brought about in the school system, and I am watching whether the positive trends in scores and programming continue, for when and if kids enter the picture. Being involved in tutoring (not in an in-boundary school) has exposed me to DCPS students, some of whom I imagine are from low-income families whose parents are concerned about their education (and thus push them to do tutoring), who seem to be benefiting from the community involvement. So I think there are hopeful signs, despite some schools outperforming others and not all students getting as much parental support as they need.

  • This is a real dilemma for us. My fiancee works in DC, and I work in PG County. We want to send our kids (when we have them) to a good public school, but we also want to spend time with our kids instead of spending all our time commuting. If we live in a place that makes commuting easy, we get lousy public schools. If we choose to live in a place with good public schools (MoCo, some parts of NW DC, or VA) then both of us would have bad commutes. We’re hoping DC schools will continue to improve, but we’re a lot less optimistic about that now that Gray is mayor. So this whole topic is kind of frustrating and depressing for us.

  • Okay to get away from the race discussion and back to the matter at hand:

    I went to a TERRIBLE public school in the boondocks of Virginia. I still did well on my SATs and went to a good college. When I got to college I did pretty good because I was used to teaching myself.

    My point? I would send MY kid to a school with crappy teachers and facilities. They’d probably end up fine. Going a little strong on the nature over nurture vibe but you get the picture.

    The thing that would scare me is the guns/drugs/violence factor. All we had was weed in the boonies and every kid is going to try that. I couldn’t send my kid to a place with metal detectors, it just seems wrong…

    • This is really the crux of the matter. I am also convinced that a reasonably bright kid with educated, involved parents will do well in school regardless of (or despite) a less than stellar academic environment. But the social issues can really derail a kid. At a minimum, I can see a child being really unhappy in that environment. And while I’d love to stay in the city, I won’t do it if my daughter is miserable at her school and I can address the problem.

  • We have every intention of sending our child to DC public or charter school, depending on where we can get him in. I am not comfortable with our neighborhood/in-boundary school; we use their playground occasionally and it drives me nuts that they are incapable of removing graffiti/crew tags from the playground equipment. That oversight says a lot: either they don’t notice or they don’t care.

    Also, while I am not afraid of sending him to school with other races, I do not want him to be an only–and I’d say that regardless of what race we were.

    The real question for us is whether we move or go private. I grew up in the Northeast and have a pretty poor view of private schools–confirmed by one year of private in HS. I’d rather move. My husband grew up in the South and everyone goes to private school down there so he’d rather go private. The difference, though, is that the schools where he grew up have reasonable tuition even now, while here you have Sacred Heart ($5k, possibly not much better education-wise), Gonzaga ($16k and HS only), and then Sidwell/GDS/WIS, etc. at $30k+. It seems insane to me to pay $30k per year for kindergarten, even assuming we could afford it.

    So we’ll see. As someone said above, neither of us wants to use our kid as a social experiment. But we also really like where we live and think that short commute, happy parents, and being so close to all sorts of things to do is important, too.

    • “Everyone goes to private school” in the South??

      Maybe in white-flight areas, but there are plenty of people who go to public school in the South. I did.

    • most people in the south go to public school.

    • It’s not true that “everyone goes to private school” in the South, except in some cities and in racist rural areas where the white parents set up private schools specifically so their kids wouldn’t have to go to desegregated public schools.

      I went to fairly mediocre public schools in the South until I left for college (an Ivy). I think a lot of it depends on the kid, and private schools don’t necessarily offer a better education or a better social environment.

      • Careless writing on my part; in the area where my husband grew up, everyone goes to private school if they can afford it, which most people could when he was younger because tuition was almost nothing. And yes, it’s a city with big racial tensions.

  • No kids yet, but married. White 20-somethings who own a house.

    We’ve mulled it over, and if we had a spawn we would pony up and send it to the private school where my better half teaches. We would get a discount on the tuition, but it would still be a lot of money for us. There seem to be some good options for public elementary in our neighborhood, but we would probably elect to go private, probably RC, probably Gonzaga, for HS. There’s no way we could afford the full tuition at the best non-RC private schools.

    For the record, we have talked about someday making a move out west (for the climate). A similar problem exists in Utah, even though it is essentially all white (and Mormon). Plus there are no good school ‘burbs you can move to.

  • Well first I need to bear children.

    But second… I don’t know…

    All of it depends on the surrounding adults in the neighborhood!

    the schools
    Do the teachers *and adminstrators* care and are they invested in the children? Will the adminstration and teachers cooperate? Will the adminstrators administrate?

    the neighbors
    Do neigbhorhood parents care? Do they believe in the power of learning Do they want their children to know about the world around them? to master times tables? to read every night? Do they back the teachers lessons up?

    the community
    Does the district’s voters believe in supporting education? Is the neighborhood ceaselssly cynical/burnt out about it now? Are there nothing but cynical 20-30 somethings who talk about parents as “breeders” and casually throw around “I hate kids” comments? Will they incessantly complain about how bitter they are about unions and bad teachers — not noticing if changes occur?

  • Anonymous-

    You went to a “TERRIBLE public school in the boondocks” because you didn’t have a choice — that’s where your parents sent you. I’m sure your parents did the best they could for you, and you owe it to your own kids to to the same thing.

    Schools do appear to be improving in DC, but change takes time, and take it from experience: kids grow up fast. I’ll leave the social experimentation to others, thank you very much.

  • how’s Ross elementary on R? I walk by it a lot and it seems great. happy parents, happy kids, diversity…

    • Ross is great, probably one of the top 5 or 10 elementary schools in DC. Real small and supportive community. Younger grades especially are predominently in-boundary parents which are involved and educated. 3 big drawbacks — 1) ratios are still high, because hey it is a public school, 2) the upper grades like 3-5 are (for now) largely out of boundary as more kids move away after early years, and 3) where do you go from there? Middle schools all suck.

      • 3 big drawbacks — 1) ratios are still high, because hey it is a public school, 2) the upper grades like 3-5 are (for now) largely out of boundary as more kids move away after early years, and 3) where do you go from there? Middle schools all suck.

        Not sure how 3 is a big drawback to sending your kid to Ross (or 2 for that matter). The argument seems to be that you must move to the suburbs for better schooling *now*, in order to avoid having to move to the suburbs for better schooling in 5-10 years. That logic just seems whacky.

        It’s like pre-emptively crashing your plane into a field because it looks like the plane might not have enough fuel to make it to an airport. Why borrow trouble?

      • Agreed about Ross. It also looks like drawback 2 might solve itself in a year or 2, as a bunch of PK-2nd grade parents seem committed to stick around. The real problem now is just getting in. The principal wrote in an email to the parents that there’s a 400+ waiting list across all grades. Most of those are for the new 3YO class and PK, and a number of little kids with siblings at Ross didn’t make it this year.

  • Love this topic. Please keep the discussion going! I have one going public and one going private this fall. No plans to leave DC or Mt P, which we adore.

    • me

      If you don’t mind me asking, why is one public and one private? Lack of funds? One kid wants to stay in public?

      • Dunno about Alicia, but I know several families who have their preschoolers in private schools, and then move them to public for kindergarten. If we had a second, we would be in that boat. Preschool and PreK are not guaranteed in DC; you have to get the slot by lottery, even at your in-boundaries school.
        I’ve also heard of others who have a special-needs child in private, and other children in public.

  • I bought my house as a bachelor 10 years ago this month. When kids came along and reached reached enrollment age, we considered moving out. But Petworth has been a great place to start a family, have a home, commute to work, and enjoy the amenities of DC (which I believe are referred to on this site as “The Beautiful Life.”)

    We’ve had kids enrolled in two different DC public charter schools, Bridges and Washington Yu Ying, and I hold both in very high esteem. If anything, I would have said that their curricula have been geared a little high for young students. In that sense, I’m complaining that the schools are too good! But it never pays to underestimate a kid or a teacher. The professional educators and administrators at these schools do a great job making it work for all the kids, and ours are thriving.

  • I grew up in the area. The truth is, DC and PG county schools are terrible. There are a couple in each jurisdiction that are good, but by and large they are bad.

    I only have insight into the high schools, though, so I dont know what the k-8 scene is like.

    However, the perception that VA schools are better is only true because DC and PG are so bad. TC Williams is a bad public school, there’s no debating that, I’d definitely rather have my child go to Wilson or Eleanor Roosevelt. Out in Fairfax, there are good ones and there are bad ones. The only reason people think that these schools are good is because a bunch of white kids (at least in my time, now its pretty mixed between asians, hispanics, and whites in many areas) go there. But take it from me, I know hundreds of products of Fairfax County schools, by and large, these kids lack ambition. While many of them go to college, their matriculation list is less than impressive. Obviously, there are some standout schools, but too many of them are bad. If you can get your kid into TJ, its a fantastic opportunity.

    There are plenty of terrible students and borderline juvenile delinquents. They just get an easier time of it because Fairfax County and their parents let them skate by. They’re also white, so that helps them too. If you’re urban black and you have deadbeat parents and a system that doesnt care, you end up in jail. If you’re white with deadbeat parents and a system that doesnt care you end up in Community College and a raging pot habit.

    The best school system in the area is definitely MoCo. However, not everyone can afford to live in areas that feed BCC and the other good schools. So where does that leave you? Fortunately, we have some of the best private schools in the country. We probably have the highest concentration of good private schools outside of Manhattan.

    Look at St Albans, St Anselms, and Gonzaga for quality all boys schools. Look at NCS and Visitation for all girls. Also, Sidwell and GDS are top tier co-ed schools. This list isnt exhaustive though, there are other private schools in this area that are outstanding and are worth considering.

    For the cost of moving from one of our affordable neighborhoods here to close in Montgomery County you could easily send your kid to private high school all 4 years.

    As for elementary and middle, I think there are some fine public charters and some good public schools that will take kids from outside their area in a lottery. Thats what i would go for.

    • Even TJ has its problems (and I went there, so I know). It can be a pretty stressful place for a kid who is smart but not absolutely brilliant. Half of the asian kids cheat (not because they’re bad kids — just because their parents have unrealistically high expectations and ride them really hard, and the only way to meet those expectations is to cheat). The teachers and administration are scared to do anything to stop the cheating (one principal got fired just for mentioning the high rate of cheating among asian kids). The humanities education there isn’t as solid as the math and science, and the administration discourages the humanities teachers who push to make that part of the school better. Having the school draw from such a wide area means just commuting to school and back is hard for a lot of kids, and that complicates the social life.

      That said, it is still an incredible school, and a great opportunity. My point is just that no school is perfect; every place has its downsides.

      • I forgot about the rampant cheating at TJ.

        You are totally right, though. However, if you know your kid wants to pursue science and math, there is no better place to go than TJ. It is the MIT of high schools (a lot of asians are rumored to cheat there too).

  • White, live in a predominantly black neighborhood. Some people won’t give me the time of day, most will. Just like any other neighborhood. They either know my name already, or they just call me “that white man.” So be it. Not enough time left on this earth to worry about the ignorant, closed off people that stop at the surface to learn all they need to know about what’s underneath.

    Kid on the way, and wee’re not moving. We’re going to be a part of the solution, even if it doesn’t come during our time here. Plenty of kids go to private schools and accomplish nothing. They get on drugs, don’t do their work, whatever. Good teachers are certainly key to children learning during the day, but involved parents are the dominant educator in a child’s life, if that is their priority.

    It’s a crap shoot, people. Period. All you can do is try to effect change if you are not happy with how things are set up. Or, you can choose to set up shop some place else. One is not better than the other. But, we are not moving to whereverburbia because schools have a good rep.

    It’s my rep, and my wife’s rep, that I am most worried about. And our rep is this . . . we’re going to put our kid in the best possible educational situation that we can based on where we live, and what we can afford, and what makes sense for us as a family. That’s DC, and that’s local to where our house is. And at the end of the day, all the hours we have with our child, we’re going to be involved. We’ll do our best to give bim the tools to succeed as a person.

    DCPS will play a role in that, to varying opinions (on here), but it will be just one small part of his education.

    We have free museums, that are constantly changing content, for example. We’re going to drag him into nature so that he has an understanding that it’s not all about him. He’s going to probably end up in a school as a double minority based on our marriage, and he’s going to learn from all the kids around him. Some good. Some bad.

    And I realize we may very well be faced with a sub-standard classroom along the way. But teachers change through moving on, or the kid getting to the next grade.

    Prediction? Mixed bag. Just like life.

    Best to all of you with your kids’ futures, and to a couple of you on here, with getting past my surface enough to say hello when I wave at you from across the street. You’d probably be surprised some of teh things you learn about me.

    • Reality check: there are only so many hours in the day. Whatever school you send your kids to will not be a “just one small part of the education.” It’s where they will spend 8 hours of their day for 180 days a year. Whatever additional time you manage to squeeze in for his education — museums, nature, what have you — will pale by comparison.

      It’s awfully easy to pontificate when you don’t actually HAVE kids. Check back with the rest of us in five, ten, and fifteen years. Only then will you be in a position to offer a truly informed opinion on how important your child’s school is.

    • I seriously don’t know whether you should be:

      (a) commended for your selflessness and community spirit (committing to staying to be part of the solution; “All you can do is try to effect change if you are not happy with how things are set up.”)


      (b) ridiculed for your selfishness (refusing to consider moving because you don’t want to live in “whereverburbia” even with the recognition that you may (and likely will) subject your kids to a less than ideal (or truly terrible) situation.)

  • I’ve noticed a big difference in parents’ attitudes towards sending their kids to public/charter schools in DC compared to just a few years ago.

    I lived in Mt. Pleasant from 2000-02 and it seemed like everyone left for Bethesda or Silver Spring by the time their kids were 3-4 years old.

    Now in Petworth I have many friends having kids – so far almost all of them with school-age kids have found a charter/public school option they’re happy with. It’s a really huge change in just a few years. Even friends of mine who live in Cleveland Park (they paid, oh, $800K more for their house than we did) send their kids to charter schools (in Columbia Heights). There just seem to be many more good options now than a few years ago.

    We’re expecting our first baby this summer and expect to do the same (charter/public schools). I’m not sure what we would do by the time our kid is in middle school, but honestly, in the suburbs, you end up paying a lot for great schools in the price of your home and your property taxes. I feel like so much has changed with the DC schools in the last 10 years…hopefully in the next 10 there will be good options for older kids as well. We shall see…

    • I totally agree. THings are changing, fast, and for the better. We had thought of moving (5 years ago), but are comfortable with the schools now.

      I think that many on here who are saying “no way” haven’t lately (or ever) been inside some of the schools or talked with the teachers. We spend 2 years at a DCPS school and didn’t care much for many of the teachers, although a couple were great. Now at a charter, and we really like the enthusiasm and energy.

  • I saw the sign in the photo, so it wasn’t photoshopped.

    I agree with those who are saying they send or would send their kids to the best school possible, whether it be forking over the tuition for a private school or moving to a different neighborhood. And yes, socioeconomics is an issue and I think race less so. We have black neighbors who send their daughter to private school. We are not in a financial position to be able to do the same for our daughter.

  • To follow that list of schools which would eat up a significant portion of my annual salary, let me take a moment to say why I would rather have my kid in DCPS than Sidwell or NSC:
    I went to a private school for a year. It wasn’t even a particularly fancy one, but it was the only way for the upper-crust in town to differentiate themselves from the masses. My fellow students said things like “I won’t get in trouble for skipping class. The principal doesn’t want to piss off my daddy because he donates so much money to the school!”
    And the drugs! Half my class was out in the parking lot smoking up four times a day. A couple kids wandered from class to class carrying a bottled iced tea that was at least half Southern Comfort. The parties were distasteful even to my 17-year-old self. Really, girls? You think it’s a good idea to get drunk and do a striptease for your classmates and their videocameras?
    And the worst of it all is, I can’t remember an instance where one of these kids was punished. Not once. They got caught, but “punishment” was a weekend’s grounding by their parents, or getting their reserved parking place confiscated for a week by the school. Having to park at the far end of the lot was as bad as it got.

    Short version: kids without boundaries are dangerous, at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. I want to keep my kid away from them. If she never so much as meets a suburban lax bro, I’ll breathe a little sigh of relief.

    • WDC: The schools that I listed are nothing like what you describe.

      Like I said, our private schools in this area are top tier in the country. The educators, the administration, and the parents are all very engaged.

      I’m sorry, but your 1 year spent in whatever private school, that was the only game in town, is not even close to compelling reasoning for why DCPS is better than private schools.

      • I use my one year as rationale for my personal preference, but it is not the only information I have. I know for a fact that there are children in the top-tier private schools in DC living the Paris Hilton lifestyle. My friends with kids in those schools shrug their shoulders and make excuses and hope that their offspring don’t get involved with “those” kids.
        And yes, there are drugs and boundaryless kids in DCPS as well. The difference is, no one aspires to be like those kids. It’s not a glamorous, enviable lifestyle that an impressionable teen might be tempted to emulate.

      • try Georgetown Prep. When I went there it was probably one of the biggest cocaine hubs on the east coast. No joke. Residents students were pretty chill for the most part, but some of the day students were straight out of a movie.

        Private or public, if you leave the school to educate your child, your too foolish for children.

        Either way, they’re getting paid. It’s a job. Look around you, and tell me how many people you work with are 100 percent passionate about their job, and how their work affects other people.

        Same goes for teachers, and they don’t get paid as much as many of us.

        • “When I went there it was probably one of the biggest cocaine hubs on the east coast. No joke.”

          Today’s Laughable Hyperbole Award goes to Stu!

          Can’t wait for “Cocaine Cowboys 3: Rollin’ With the Little Hoyas” to come out.

    • Ha! You have nailed my fear of the suburbs in one brilliant post. Add the fact that kids in these lax disciplinary environments are operating motor vehicles and I see the suburbs as an insidiously dangerous place. I can take precautions against muggers and burglars, but a bored and hormone-addled kid texting behind the wheel?

      • Yes! Cars. It is my fondest hope that my child will never be in a car driven by another teen. Heck, I’d be happy if she didn’t learn to drive herself til her 20s.
        I can’t believe so many of us survived our small-town or suburban adolescence, given the stupid shit we did behind the wheel. And this before cell phones…

    • Here’s the thing – your kid won’t go to DCPS. At any given tome, your kid will attend ONE school that is in DCPS. That’s what matters. If that school is good, you’re set. If not, uh oh.

      A blanket statement that “DCPS” is better than private without specifying the DCPS school in question (and based on one year’s experience in a private school in some other down) is just senseless.

      • Ill go ahead and up the ante. None of the DC public high schools hold a candle to even the bottom tier private schools in this area.

  • We don’t have kids yet either but when we do we want to put them in public/charter schools. The problem is that the good charter schools seem to be next to impossible to get into. There is a great one two blocks from our house (EL Haynes) and I was told there was a waiting list of 300 to get in. And if you cant get in by K its pretty much impossibe to get into later or get a sibling in later. I am kind of curious about all the folks who plan on putting their kids into charter schools, just how exactly are you going to pull that off? Maybe in 5 years or so Parkview/Bruce Monroe won’t be so awful.

    • I agree about the charter schools. If I knew I’d be able to get my kids into one of the good charter schools, I’d be happy and stop worrying about this issue. But it seems like the chance of getting in to one of those schools is just getting lower and lower every year as more and more people apply for the lottery to get in.

      • gotta be lucky to get in. We did, and we’re thankful every day.

        EL Haynes (where we are) is still figuring out how to structure the shape of the student body. Some grades have 2 classes, some 3. You need to apply for admission for a year that has 3 classes. PK3 and PK4 have two classes and are all filled by sibs. Don’t give up, just make sure you apply in 1st grade, since there are three classes there, and they can accept more from the lottery.

  • My wife is a teacher (in the burbs) and she would not approve of DC public schools.

    This is a pretty common (if ignorant) sentiment. There are DC public schools, and there are DC public schools. There are actually some great elementary school options–you just have to live in-boundary for DCPS, or proactively work to get into a decent charter.

    What I always find puzzling are the parents who say, “I moved out of DC because I have an 11 month old. There’s no way I’m sending them to a DCPS middle-school!!!”

    I’ve got a four-year-old who’s in a great neighborhood ES on the Hill. Maybe the middle-school options will continue to suck. Maybe we’ll move out of the city, too–in a decade. Just seems bizarre to jump the gun so soon.

    • Ignorant based on 35 years of living and 10 years of teaching in the DC Metropolitan area? I don’t think that’s ignorant.

      I had to move since I had a tiny condo so that does put me in a different category from anyone that has a house already. My choice was whether to move to a house in a good public school system or a house in DC. Despite the misconceptions of many of the commenters here, it doesn’t cost $2 million to buy a house in MoCo. It’s not much more than Petworth where we see daily posts reminding me that a studio basement apartment 2 miles from the Metro is a steal at $2000 a month (yes, I exaggerate slightly, but only slightly).

      Perhaps you can work hard and get into a great charter school that will still exist in 5 years. Perhaps the DC school system will make a miraculous and unexpected turnaround in the next 10 years. Perhaps the mayor and at least 3 of the current DC council members will not be in jail next year. These are all big ifs. And I was not going to take that chance with my children’s education.

      • As someone said upthread, “the DC school system” doesn’t have to make a miraculous and unexpected turnaround in 10 years. There are some great elementary schools in DC now. There are a lot of shitty ones. How many schools is your child going to attend concurrently?

        You only need one. A lot of us DC parents have found that one.

  • Few schools…more dog parks !!!

    • +1

      But seriously, I don’t have or want kids, so it’s not an issue for me, but I have friends with kids in Haynes, Washington Latin and School Without Walls. Another friend is moving from Montgomery County to DC this summer so her kid can go to Wilson for high school. There seem to be options.

  • I’m hoping this conversation doesn’t hover around Lisa’s comment above but what she said and the reaction to it contain truth in equal measures. Collective failure to realize that pushes the racism forward.

    Someone above said that “it’s astounding for someone to think white people have a problem sending their kids to a predominantly black school.”

    Come on, really?

    No, what’s really astounding is the popular belief, reiterated in these comments again and again, that low-income and/or black parents don’t value education, don’t want it for their kids, don’t get involved, don’t care. This belief soars right over the possibility that options are not open to everyone, that sometimes involvement doesn’t make a lick of difference, that some things really are beyond a parents’ control.

    So it’s impossible for some of you to see the frustration of parents who’ve been fighting a failing system for years. Fighting. They can’t take up arms in that fight alongside someone who feels that the only position for “a responsible parent” is to pick up and leave.

    And if that’s your position, fine. Just be glad you’ve got options, but don’t turn around and spit on the parents who don’t. Lisa’s comments were snarky, uninformed, unnecessary, but if you only see her in the singular dimension of “racist comment” then you’re part of the problem. Really.

    I’ve got one kid so far, he’s 15 months and we’re feeling cautiously optimistic about prospects for schools. We want quality and diversity, and see value in an urban lifestyle for reasons too numerous to mention but captured by many here and in other posts. We want to stay and fight, and our hope for positive outcomes is bolstered by the groundswell of parents who seem to be feeling the same way. But we’ve got options.

  • In my neighborhood on the Hill, there are a lot of middle-class families with children moving in. My understanding is that the public schools on the Hill are flourishing, have test scores that are rising, etc. Is there anyone who lives on Capitol Hill with kids in the schools that can comment?

    Isn’t this why Tommy Wells was adamant about having Eastern High School remain in Ward 6?

    • Your understanding is pretty accurate. There are now 4-5 elementary schools on the Hill that have growing and satisfied middle-class student bodies. And lots of parental engagement.

  • I keep noticing a theme in some of these comments, especially about how good the schools are on Cap Hill. I would kill to get my kid into Peabody cluster but we can’t afford a 700k plus house to be in bounds. there are amazing elementary schools in upper NW and west end at well. What do these all have in common? neighbhorhoods that are predominantly rich (its not even about race, its about CLASS in dc neighborhoods). Every study shows that kids from upper middle class backgrounds come to school better behaved, prepared etc. Those same families donate more time and money to those schools as well. Thus they have the best test scores which means more people try to get their kids in as out of bounds which means 500 kids competing for 20 spots. And please don’t tell me about “middle class families” moving to the Hill. If they can afford to buy a house on the Hill now, they are anything but middle class. Im wondering if its possible to rent a really cheap studio apt in upper NW just to claim the address to get a kid into Janney Elementary? The rent on the apt would still be cheaper than private school.

    • We live on the Hill (I had no idea our tiny rowhouse made us upper-class, Get Real) and are expecting our firstborn in August.

      Will we consider D.C. elementary schools? Sure.

      Middle schools? Maybe.

      High schools: Good god no.

      • Remember, there is a population boom heading into the early grades now, many of them children of yuppies, gentrifiers, socialists, activists, and other undesirables. It’s possible that these kids and their parents will go on up through the schools, improving and de-scary-fying things as they go. Perhaps in 10-15 years, it won’t be any more a pioneer act to send them to public HS, than it is to send our littles to public ES now. And maybe if I close my eyes and click my heels three times…

  • I think it is important to remember that taxes pay a large portion of public school funding. This is one reason that wealthier areas often have great (and sometimes excellent) public schools.

    I am African American, and I am not from a wealthy family. I grew up in a predominately white and predominately wealthy area. I attended an excellent public school. It was during college that I realized what a great education I received. I observed that I had a greater comprehension of certain subjects than some students from private school backgrounds. This was the direct result of the exposure to advanced topics and hands-on instructional techniques that I received during my years of public schooling.

    Meanwhile, many of my classmates that attended public schools in poor areas (often with largely minority student bodies) did not have nearly the same exposure to advanced subject matter or quality instruction. This was evident when I proofread term papers or exchanged outlines with students from these schools.

    Of course, we know that the race of the majority of a school’s student body is not the ONLY factor that determines the quality of a public school. However, although it is an unfortunate fact, we are all aware that there are strong correlations between race and socioeconomic status in our country. This is why we see so many underperforming schools with largely minority student populations. We have to acknowledge that this is a reality and not the result of different perceptions, interpretations, or opinions. Once we accept this and face this problem head on, we can work towards making things better. 🙂

  • Peabody will have you covered through K and then it’s on to most likely Watkins or Brent. The Hill has a lot of elementary options within close proximity, which in my opinion seems to dilute the relative strength of any single option. I agree that the affluence of incoming families is not big lift to the public schools, as these families can and often do afford to pursue private school options

  • My kids middle school is so good, lots of families from Maryland sneak their kids in!

    • What’s funny is that even at the really crappy public schools you see a lot of cars with MD plates dropping kids off. I’m guessing that a number of those belong to extended family and some more are car registration/insurance fraud rather than school residency fraud. However, there are enough of them to believe that at least some of them have to be MD residents attending a really bad school illegally.

      I know that a number of MD residents with special needs kids claim DC residency in order to have DC pay for private school and transportation (the suburban districts tend to fight those battles and win, whereas DC tends to either roll over or just lose the battle anyway), but I’m seeing the MD plates at some terrible public schools and don’t get why.

  • I’d like to point out there are some decent High Schools in DC. Last spring I was a part-time instructor (for a Saturday class) at the School Without Walls in Foggy Bottom. It was a modern facility with great, motivated teachers and parents. If your kid can test good enough to get into it, I think they’d get just as good an education as in any suburb highschool.

    The racial makeup is 1/3 white, black, hispanic each… with a peppering of asians. All the kids were amazingly well behaved and I didn’t encounter any ‘Lisas’ in the cadre of parents. No racial tensions to my knowledge at this place.

    There might be other HSs in DC that are equally good, but this is the only one that I have personal experience with.

  • My son will be attending a brand new charter school — the Inspired Teaching School — this fall as a preschooler. We’re really excited about the school and I believe it has the potential to surpass many of the “best” schools in the area. In fact, we were planning to move to Mont Co, but are now staying put.

    We also got into a preschool program at a regular DCPS on the Hill. I thought the program looked great, but wasn’t as confident about the school post-K. (And the commute would have been miserable.)

    I will add to what some others have posted — it is not that easy to get into the highly regarded charter schools. On wait lists, my son is 150 at EL Haynes, 411 at LAMB, and 138 at Mundo Verde (and that school is also brand new!). He was originally waitlisted at ITS as well, but got off about a month ago. (He’s 3 so we couldn’t try for Yu Ying or Cap City yet, and 2 Rivers is just too far for us.)

    And just to clarify — charter schools ARE public schools.

  • All of you who claim that “it’s not about race, it’s about class” are full of it.

    That is just what white people say when they are afraid to deal with the fact that deep down, they still have a fear of black people.

    Race is so tied up with class in the US that a discussion of race can not be seperate from a discussion about class.

    • ho hum.

    • I’m not scared of black people, I’m just scared of poor people who can’t speak proper English.

      Equal opportunity hatred over here.

    • white people that are afraid of black people mainly don’t move to dc.

    • what do koreans say?

    • At least I’m willing to back up my words with a name.
      Evidence that it’s about class and not so much race, look at buppie parents and where they send their kids. Take a very close look at Upper Marlbough parents.
      Ignore the black middle class and upper middle class and then yes you can confirm your biases and make it all about race. Heaven forbid we critize the buppies.

  • I went to a predominately black public elementary school with amazing teachers and a well-structured curriculum followed by a predominately black public middle school with mediocre teachers and leadership focused solely on standardized tests. I had involved, educated parents and was always at the top of my class, yet I consider my middle school years a black hole in my education and arrived at my small, academically rigorous, diverse high school woefully behind.

    There is no way parents can fully compensate academically for a terrible school, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, nothing to say of safety and social issues (I only had to deal with being called a “cracker” and other kids fighting, nothing terrible).

    I can’t imagine where I would be if I had a similar high school. Yeah, I probably would have done well in my classes and decently on standardized tests, but even if I’d gotten lucky and had still been accepted at the selective, top-tier college I attended, I would have been way behind my peers.

    That said, just because a school is private doesn’t mean it’s a good school. I know of a lot of private schools, back home at least, that hire unqualified teachers, provide a weak academic curriculum, and do nothing but give parents a sense of self-satisfaction.

    I’m nowhere near spawning, but if were, I would hope that at least some public/charter school were available to provide my hypothetical kids a good education (I went to magnet schools my whole life, so my parents didn’t just settle for the neighborhood school). It doesn’t matter what the racial makeup of the school is as long as they provide a safe environment with dedicated teachers. I think kids can learn a lot from city-living, and I hope I don’t need to sacrifice that in order to get them a decent academic education as well.

  • If it were me, I’d start my kids out in public school and see how it goes. Ultimately I think parental influence plays a far greater role than the quality of the eduacation or the peers. My high school was full of juvenile delinquents, and most of the teachers were horrible (of course there are always a few good ones), but it didn’t affect me negatively because my parents put such a strong emphasis on education. Sure, I didn’t have all the AP credits that my college roommates did, but I felt more well-rounded from being exposed to a less-than-ideal educational environment.

    Also: what’s the deal with Fairfax County public schools? Everyone’s always raving about them, but I haven’t met a graduate who seemed particularly bright or successful.

  • Because STBXH works as a DCPS teacher we had plans to try out to get our kid into the elementary school where he taught because then he would know the teachers and be able to stay on top of what was going on with our kid. We were undecided about middle and high school (STBXH attended Duke Ellington), but private schools where not off the table. Moving out of D.C. was off the table, however, as we both work in the city and a commute was not an option.

    I know too many hardworking committed teachers to write off DCPS completely.

    • OH MY. The errors in that previous post do not speak well to MY public school education. LOL!

      Here’s what I meant to type: Because STBXH works as a DCPS teacher we had plans to try and get our kid into the elementary school where he taught because then he would know the teachers and be able to stay on top of what was going on with our kid. We were undecided about middle and high school (STBXH attended Duke Ellington), but private schools were not off the table. Moving out of D.C. was off the table, however, as we both work in the city and a commute was not an option.

      I know too many hardworking committed teachers to write off DCPS completely.

  • I am so happy with my DCPS experience. The school facility is awesome. The Principal is a true leader. The school manager is a dream. The teachers are dedicated and motivated and effective. The fellow students are model humans in every way. The fellow parents contribute, struggle, and achieve like we all do. My only complaint — warm milk cartons given to kids from time to time. 😉

  • The “deal” with Fairfax CPS is Thomas Jefferson High School, which is a well-known magnet school, but in general Arlington has great schools (Many students at Thomas Jefferson in FCPS are from Arl. too.)… Alexandria City and Falls Church as well.

    A public school class is a large group, sometimes a very large group, managed by one person. The teacher has some management skills, curriculum design, and inspiration, but she or he cannot make up who the GROUP is.

    What I’m saying is your child will be surrounded by other kids all day everyday. Going to public school is good — as that is a reflection of the real world — but also, that group WILL have an impact on your child. In middle school, kids look to peers for cues about behavior and what to do more than to adults. This is only typical. The kids need a lot of love in middle school.

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