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-   -   A question for parents: To fight or to flight? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=431119)

soyizgood 07-06-2012 04:45 PM

A question for parents: To fight or to flight?
 
I'll post up some interesting stats that sum up my latest dilemma.

I live in Los Angeles and as such I fall under LAUSD. I have a soon-to-be 6 year old stepson coming into the equation in the coming months. I am aware of the school attendance zones for several of the schools. I am also aware of the bureaucratic mess that comes with having kids go to schools within and outside the district. With that said, let's bring on the dilemma.

The elementary school where my home resides is a 5 minute walk away. The rent I pay is a bit high, but actually cheap by West LA standards for a 2 bedroom. I've met the principal of that school and walked around the campus. I have my reservations about this school, but I don't dislike the school. That said, here's what really concerns me.

"Home School" API 2011:
School - 758
Hispanic - 763
Black - 673
Disabled - 662
Economically challenged - 758
English learners - 751

There aren't enough Asians or Caucasians at the school to get their API. School is 86% Hispanic, 11% Black. My stepson is Caucasian and there's only 12 of them out of 620+ students. I'm part Black and Asian, so I admittedly would rather have my kids in a more diverse environment.

I was scratching my head over the low API for Blacks, especially in relation to the Hispanics. So I did some homework. I compared API scores at all of the other elementary schools in my zip code as well as surrounding areas. And guess what? At the 4 other schools in my zip code, Blacks outperformed Hispanics and at one, Blacks outperformed Caucasians. In fact, Blacks outperformed Asians at the 2nd best school in my zip code.

Schools within my zip code:
CH
CL
CR
PE

I live two blocks east of school CH's attendance zone. And I live three blocks south of another school's attendance zone. I live in the Twilight Zone since the other four elementary schools fall under the same middle school (a good one), but the school by me falls under a middle school further west and is much lower performance-wise.

Playing the "Game of Permits" is dicey given the time to apply for them is late in the school year. The option to invoke "No Child Left Behind" is a process that starts in November to mid-December and would only benefit me for the following school year (that and the kid actually has to enroll at the school). So he'd be stuck having to spend parts of two grades at the home school.

I work in a city that borders LA and they have a solid school district. The school by my work is very good. The administrators were friendly during the tour, but they mentioned that getting in via an inter-district permit is very difficult because so many parents seek intra-district permits, leaving little to no room for the inter-district permit seekers.

The good news is I rent, so I could just pack up and move. The bad news is things are pricey in West LA, even in the not-so-good areas. I could probably move to an area with a so-so school, but at least it falls under the zone for the good middle school.

Given all this, should I be trying my best to relocate or find a way to get the child to another school? Or should I at least give the home school a chance to get its act together?

El Diablo 07-06-2012 07:12 PM

You should let the child's mother (and if he's still involved, father) make the decision. You've not been involved in the child's life long enough to participate in such decisions, other than to offer an opinion to the child's mother. I take it "soon to be" means you're not married yet. It's arrogant and presumptuous to think YOU have a decision to be made about where the kid goes to school, though you of course may have input into where you all live.

LuckyR 07-06-2012 07:18 PM

A couple of thoughts:

Luckily we are taking Kindergarten here so going to a cr4ppy one won't end his bid for Harvard.

Secondly I would approach grade school (where you call the shots at home) and High School (where he calls the shots) very differently. In the grade school situation it isn't about the successful transfer of facts/information, it is about grooving good study habits. The best thing for that is to surround your kid with other kids who value academic achievement, as it just so happens those kids usually have high test scores, but it isn't about the scores themselves. In HS, it is more about the "tone" or style of the school that happens to match up with the style of the kid. This provides motivation and makes the learning process way, way easier than wasting time convincing the kid to even go to school let alone doing well.

Naturally safety is a mandatory thing, any safe school is way, way better than any unsafe one.

TennisNinja 07-06-2012 07:48 PM

My parents had me attend a different elementary school than the one I should have gone to, and we moved to different district for middle/high school. Thank goodness they did that oo.

Sure, a lot of people say "it's what you make of it", but at that age especially it's important to be around peers that are also trying to be high achieving.

I know if it was my kid, I would try as hard as possible for the permit switch, and if not then move. Your case is interesting because the kid is a stepkid though, so I don't know what I would do then.

soyizgood 07-06-2012 09:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by El Diablo (Post 6701338)
You should let the child's mother (and if he's still involved, father) make the decision. You've not been involved in the child's life long enough to participate in such decisions, other than to offer an opinion to the child's mother. I take it "soon to be" means you're not married yet. It's arrogant and presumptuous to think YOU have a decision to be made about where the kid goes to school, though you of course may have input into where you all live.

She's not from my neck of the woods (other side of the country) and since she'll be moving here with her son, it's up to me to scout the available options. My fiancee and I are getting married this year and she'll move here after we take care of a few loose ends.

Oh and the kid's dad is a drunk deadbeat. He might see the boy 1-2 times a year.

Eph 07-06-2012 11:06 PM

I don't think the school matters as much as people want to think. Having said that, I won't be sending my child to Boston Public Schools, rather Lexington public schools or the Montessori school in Lexington.

Tough choice. But don't send your kid to the poor house by moving. That won't do anybody good. Plenty of poor kids have become great adults with excellent jobs.

soyizgood 07-07-2012 08:40 AM

After we got engaged last year, I just assumed schooling was not going to be an issue since I live in West LA.

About a month later, I started looking into the schools in my area. At first I glanced at information on the home school. I wasn't too thrilled, but I kind of shrugged it off. Then I looked further into this and decided I would rather have the child go to a better school.

I saw three schools that have been named "California Distinguished School" recently. Schools CL, CA, and FE.

School CL is arguably the best LAUSD school in the Westside. 2/3 of the students are children of UCLA graduate students that live in the graduate housing. About 1/6 of the children there are identified as gifted. I've heard during one of the tours that the kids are learning things a full grade quicker than at other schools. If you look at their API on my 1st post, you can't really score higher than that. Children regardless of race and background excel there. The school's funding has been cut in areas by LAUSD, so they're asking parents to chip in at least $400/child. With results like that, I'd gladly contribute. It sucks that I live on the other end of the zip code.

School CA is closer to me than CL and I like the environment there. Once again, due to budget cuts the school is looking for $600/child contributions. However, the school only accepts SAS (school for advanced studies, implying the child must be identified as gifted) and child-care permits (both parents have to be working or studying full-time to qualify). And yes it is pricey to live in that area.

My job falls under school FE's attendance zone. School FE is highly regarded. Unfortunately, it falls under a different school district. LAUSD sure as heck doesn't want money going out and that school gets plenty of intra-district applications. Probably the nicest looking school out of the ones I visited (classrooms have their own patio just outside). That district has a no-tolerance policy in regards to fighting, so they don't mess around.

The schools I just mentioned easily blow the home school away. My mom played the game with permits, gamesmanship, lying about addresses, etc. just to make sure my sister and I were able to get into good schools. It's just ingrained in me to do what it takes to give my kids a good education. Stepchild or child makes no difference to me in this area. I like the boy very much and since the child's biological dad is an utter no-show, his well-being is going to fall on both my fiancee and my shoulders.

soyizgood 07-07-2012 09:02 AM

It's sad that a child's academic progression really comes down to what area you can afford to live in. I'm less than 3 miles from school CL, about 1.5 miles away from school CH (but only 2 blocks east of the attendance zone), 1 mile away from school CA (3 blocks south of the attendance zone), and school FE is a few minutes away from my job.

Night and day in performance:
CL - 955
FE - 932
CH - 903
CA - 892
------
CR - 784 (44 pt jump in API last year, less than a mile south of school CL)
PE (lesser of the two evils) - 769
Home school - 758

North 07-07-2012 09:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LuckyR (Post 6701347)
The best thing for that is to surround your kid with other kids who value academic achievement, as it just so happens those kids usually have high test scores, but it isn't about the scores themselves. In HS, it is more about the "tone" or style of the school that happens to match up with the style of the kid. This provides motivation and makes the learning process way, way easier than wasting time convincing the kid to even go to school let alone doing well.

This is a HUGE thing, to have your kid in a school where it is totally uncool to do poor academically and the admired kids are the high achievers. Even if the child doesn't have great grades, you want to him to value working hard in school, learning to study effectively, and socially sticking with the kids with those values.

Kobble 07-07-2012 11:39 AM

My parents lied once to get me in another school. I also spent 3 years in Catholic schools. I had some fairly rich friends. I think these environments will help keep your kids away from gangs and crime. As for keeping you away from drugs, partly.

Mig1NC 07-07-2012 01:03 PM

Congrats on getting engaged!

Fuji 07-08-2012 06:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mig1NC (Post 6703667)
Congrats on getting engaged!

Very true! +1 on the engagement friend!

I'd like to add a bit of my experience here. In Canada our schooling system is a bit different from the USA but you know it might help to have some outside opinions. :)

I was identified as a "gifted" student before elementary started but I didn't go to a special elementary for it. I went to a quite average elementary in the fact that we were ranked in the top 10-15 in the city and I really enjoyed it. The teaching staff was very good, and the students there made my time there very enjoyable. I was able to make a lot of other "gifted" friends and it really helped my work ethic develop young. It added a lot of competitiveness to my academic pursuits. I think as long as the teachers are willing to aid students who are willing to work hard, it will work out. I've seen a lot of "lazy" elementary teachers but I've seen just as many who are willing to go the extra mile to help youngsters achieve what they can.

Middle school / Junior high I believe is what is most important though. As long as you "get through" elementary it's middle school where habits become engrained. I had absolutely fantastic teachers in middle and it helped excel my academic pursuits. (I also am one of the people that lied about my address to get into the schools I needed. Do what you need for education!)

I'm finished high school and I am going into education for my post secondary institution to become a teacher. What can I say? I love school haha!

-Fuji

ollinger 07-09-2012 05:19 AM

Try to focus more on the emotional needs of the child in picking a school, as they are likely to be considerable, far more important in this case than some relatively subtle academic distinctions among schools:
1) child and mother are moving across the country. Are they leaving other family members behind? If so, it will create stress and great loss for both of them, and therefore you as well.
2) if the father gets his act together down the road, he may seek a relationship with the child. The child, particularly as he is a boy, may someday want this as well. Has your fiancee considered this in moving so far away?
The emotional state of a child is far more important in determining academic success than arcane performance statistics of various schools. You should be looking for schools with good reputations for supporting those emotional needs.

soyizgood 07-10-2012 06:36 PM

Math exam!
 
Math question. Using the same numbers for the home school and given the ethnic breakdown of the school, try to calculate the API for the Other segment.

School API is 758.
Hispanics (84% of student body) scored 763
Blacks (11%) scored 673
Other (5%) scored what?

This assumes there are no variables to alter the equation. Have fun.

Tennishacker 07-11-2012 07:53 AM

I didn't know WestLA had that many minorities?
IMO, what really matters is parental involvement, not necessarily the school they attend.

krz 07-11-2012 08:24 AM

861

10char

soyizgood 07-11-2012 09:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by krz (Post 6718861)
861

10char

I got that number too. :)

soyizgood 07-11-2012 09:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tennishacker (Post 6718760)
I didn't know WestLA had that many minorities?
IMO, what really matters is parental involvement, not necessarily the school they attend.

In my zip code, 90034, minorities are the majority at all of the 5 schools. On my shared links in the 1st post, just click on one of the links and you can scroll through and see how the demographics have changed at all 5 schools over the past 20+ years.

Clover, Castle Heights, Shenandoah Street, Charnock, Canfield, Palms all have some interesting shifts in student body composition over the years.

From my experience, I hated private school in 3rd grade to the point my mom caved in and put me in public school for the next year. I got bullied by a Hispanic when I was in 1st grade and later bullied/intimidated by another Hispanic in 7th-8th grades.

I enjoyed the elementary school I went to in 4th-5th, going from being frowned on to being able to chill with some of the popular kids. I really liked the 1st middle school I went to, but really disliked the 2nd middle school despite its academic reputation. Even in 9th grade a Korean guy threatened me over the phone because he saw I was trying to make moves on a Japanese girl. The high school I went to was probably the 3rd strongest (out of 4) academically in that district, but I enjoyed my time there.

So I understand test scores aren't everything. I did better at schools that achieved a balance of academics and social-interactive opportunities for the students. I didn't do too well when it seemed keeping up with the Jones' was the name of the game.

soyizgood 07-11-2012 07:34 PM

I did a lookup on rents in the school attendance zones of schools I'm interested in using hotpads.com. I want to bury my head in the sand.

I already pay $1200/mo for a 2 bedroom. But that's cheap compared to median rents for 2 bedrooms in the following areas:

Home school - $1395
CA - $2300
CL - $2776
CH - $1999
PE - $1795
CR - $1960
FE - $2000

I'm by no means rich. I probably could live large in a place like Georgia, but I'm basically paycheck-to-paycheck here in Taxifornia. I don't know how the poor kids are able to get into these schools given the outrageous rent. I might just wait until I get married to see if I can get a place before her and her son move. Otherwise I may just have to dig in and play permits (dooms him to parts of two grades at that school), magnet application, or NCLB petition.

max 07-13-2012 08:36 AM

Interesting quandary. I live in a small town in the *******, and you have no choice but what they give you. And very few excellent teachers want to live in a dusty small town. . . I've always figured the education provided in small towns was spotty; certainly there are good teachers (who are married to guys who have a job, so they're here and teaching) but certainly the pay's nothing special, etc. So students' horizons are limited: always saw parallels between small town schooling and inner city schooling. Of course, the super-monongahela schools are rich suburban schools; magnificent as they are.


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