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Regular Contributor
TheGreenBanker
Posts: 86
Registered: ‎12-11-2011

Chasing the good school districts

[ Edited ]

The number one driver for home prices in the Bay Area seems to be the school districts. We made the decision to move out of SF and into the Peninsula for fear of the lottery system. Once I moved to the Peninsula I was shocked to see how poorly funded the elementary schools are. The class sizes are 30 to 1. This seems to be the norm in the cities with "good schools" such as Palo Alto, Cupertino, Millbrae, San Carlos, Belmont. We found the teachers and curriculum were no different from SF. We have friends that stayed in SF and it seems as though they've done away with the lottery and class sizes are 22 to 1. The public parks in SF are much better than the Peninsula. On top of thatthe home prices in the Peninsula are unaffordable whereas you can still own a home in the Sunset for under 700k. Looking back we probably made a mistake moving to a town where we are now priced out. Moving to a neighborhood with "good schools" won't make your kid a good student. How involved you are as a parent is probably the number 1 factor in how well your child does.

Gold Contributor
mediaguru
Posts: 1,908
Registered: ‎03-03-2011

Re: Chasing the good school districts

Bingo.

 

#1) Socioeconomic status and education levels of parents are big determining factors -- bigger factors than almost anything that a school offers. (the only thing is that a truly good teacher is the BIGGEST factor in education. But teachers are hit or miss, and mostly average. There are few that are "very good", even in the "good" districts.)

 

#2) Kids in those areas have parents who value education, who push their children to perform, do their homework, study, etc. and also have the means to hire outside tutors when needed.  I remember when I was a substitute teacher (after leaving computer programming industry and before becoming a full-fledged teacher), I advertised tutoring on Stanford campus.  One of the professors hired me to tutor his daughter in math because she was not doing well at the school. Unter my tutelage, she went from a C- to an A- in just a couple of months.  So much for the notion of "better schools / teachers in Palo Alto."  If the teacher had been good, she would have understood the lessons in class and wouldn't have NEEDED an outside tutor.

 

Anybody who thinks the "better schools" in the Bay Area are actually better are deluding themselves.  What you are REALLY paying for is what social element you want your children to be immersed in. (ie. the teachers, schools, and curriculum may not be any better... but there may be less negative influences of troubled children, drugs, gangs, distractions in the classroom, and other behavioral issues which CAN influence learning.)

Contributor
LuvSF
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎04-24-2012
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

To The GreenBanker,

 

I totally agree with you that the Sunset area is very affortable to compare the Peninsula area in term of schools, parks, outdoor activity, restaurants, public buses, and safe neighborhood...

Super Contributor
BAzx
Posts: 245
Registered: ‎07-08-2012
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

+1 on Sunset district of San Francisco.   It has a huge Chinese population similar to the Richmond district with ~10% RE price difference.  The area near Lowell High School (Lakeshore) is highly desireable too - super low inventory...

Super Contributor
Curmudgeon
Posts: 265
Registered: ‎06-14-2012
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

I think the school situation is a somewhat tangled web.  "Good" schools attract parents who are concerned about their kids education.  Those parents monitor and push the schools to do well.  The parents who don't care about education get priced out, and thus the classes are able to run at a more advanced level.  You get less disruptive kids, and less crime problems, making these schools more attractive places to work, so they get to be a bit more selective about who they hire (which may or may not translate to better teachers, but at least they will tend to have better paper qualifications).  If you get too many "type A" parents involved, these schools can end up as pressure cookers for the kids, but they get those AP and honors courses to pad their resumes to get into the "right" universities. 

 

On the flip side, in some poorly monitored areas, the local schools become a patronage system for local politicos.  With poorly educated parents who move frequently, the voters either don't care or aren't paying enough attention to fix this.  The schools carry this burden in addition to issues of drugs, crime, and gangs.  They can become more babysitting service than education system.  

 

 

 

Regular Contributor
ANOM
Posts: 124
Registered: ‎06-09-2009
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts


mediaguru wrote:

Bingo.

 

#1) Socioeconomic status and education levels of parents are big determining factors -- bigger factors than almost anything that a school offers. (the only thing is that a truly good teacher is the BIGGEST factor in education. But teachers are hit or miss, and mostly average. There are few that are "very good", even in the "good" districts.)

 

#2) Kids in those areas have parents who value education, who push their children to perform, do their homework, study, etc. and also have the means to hire outside tutors when needed.  I remember when I was a substitute teacher (after leaving computer programming industry and before becoming a full-fledged teacher), I advertised tutoring on Stanford campus.  One of the professors hired me to tutor his daughter in math because she was not doing well at the school. Unter my tutelage, she went from a C- to an A- in just a couple of months.  So much for the notion of "better schools / teachers in Palo Alto."  If the teacher had been good, she would have understood the lessons in class and wouldn't have NEEDED an outside tutor.

 

Anybody who thinks the "better schools" in the Bay Area are actually better are deluding themselves.  What you are REALLY paying for is what social element you want your children to be immersed in. (ie. the teachers, schools, and curriculum may not be any better... but there may be less negative influences of troubled children, drugs, gangs, distractions in the classroom, and other behavioral issues which CAN influence learning.)


Agree 1000%.

 Exceptions (bright kid from poor neighbourhood) only prove the point.

Regular Contributor
TheGreenBanker
Posts: 86
Registered: ‎12-11-2011
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

There's a part of me that thinks keeping your child in a bubble may not be doing them any favors.  I was exposed to everything in the Excelsior district and I like to think that this exposure has made me grounded and open to different cultures.  I feel I also have a pretty good radar for danger.  Whereas, I have many friends that were raised in wealthy neighborhoods and went to elite private schools their whole lives.  I would describe these friends as brilliant, socially awkward and naive. 

Contributor
Kookaburra
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎02-09-2012
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

How about kids from families who are middle class. They have one parent working and  dad might be making 100K plus. The mom might stay at home to be witht he kids. They have brilliant kids, but they wont be able to afford palo alto or cupertino or mission san jose. They are forced to buy in a middle class neighborhood because of bay area prices.  Are these kids not going to do well in  schools that are not 10 rated ? I am  a 100% sure they will excel in whatever school they are going to, because they have a parent taking care of them at home, and constantly pushing them to do well . 

Platinum Super Contributor
Nanomug
Posts: 10,421
Registered: ‎05-30-2009
0

Re: Chasing the good school districts

Every child and parent are different including needs.  One size does not fit all.  The best teacher for one child is not for another.

 

My oldest had third grade teacher who was the most requested.  She was definitely a gifted teacher and cared greatly for her students.  She was unconventional in running her classroom which didn't work for some parents and students.  Those who stayed the entire year were amazing scholars.

 

I have a child that is off the charts brilliant that strugged with social skills.  He thrived in a small public school which provided him education challenges and social growth.  The younger one is a social butterfly who thrived in a more structured academic school.  The oldest was the performer and charmer who thrived attending a performing arts school.   

 

Education is important to us and we raised the kids accordingly.

 

Regular Contributor
bahomeloaner
Posts: 85
Registered: ‎05-15-2012

Re: Chasing the good school districts

I don't think anybody disagrees to the point that school districts are more like market driven segregation of public by income. Your kid does not become Edison or Einstein just because he/she goes to Cupertino/PA schools. It is just that you kid is likely to be exposed to peers who have similar lifestyles and backgrounds. You are paying for social life and not for the education. As others pointed out in this thread, more students in the class being good allows the teacher (if she is willing to) to cover more syllabus. My kid had attended a school in Sunnyvale before (around 2008) and the school dropped field trips because it did not want to ask parents to shell out $20/kid towards the cost of the field trip. Even now in Fremont some schools drop field trips due to not enough volunteer drivers to take the kids to field trip (I don't why it can't arrange buses from the district).

 

Essentially you are buying socioeconomic background of public and not the quality of education by shelling out huge sums. I don't think one buys in good school areas with the belief that their kids excel without the effort of the parents.