Is it possible to improve public schools with this much lead time?
September 9, 2015 11:04 AM   Subscribe

We have moved into the neighborhood where our (future, hypothetical) child will attend public school. Unfortunately, the elementary school within walking distance has very poor ratings and it seems most of the people in our neighborhood are sending their kids to charters or private schools--which of course is only going to reduce the local school quality. Is there anything I can do in the next 7-ish years to make the public schools better?

* I know this may seem a bit crazy, since I don't have kids yet. But I see this as a civic duty as well as something that will someday benefit me and mine. I believe in having a strong public school system because it makes the whole community better.

* The school generally seems to get a 4-6/10 rating online, as compared to the local charter which is 10/10. Are these online reviews meaningful? Is there any way to get concrete data about issues, since of course there won't be graduation rates/college acceptance rates for an elementary school?

* This is a high-income area and plenty of property taxes are definitely going towards the school, so I don't think it's a simple matter of wealth. The other elementary schools in town are also rated much higher. Maybe it's more of a school culture thing?

* Since my husband and I come from an educated middle class background I know our kid will probably turn out fine, academically. But I went through this elementary school and my brothers went to the local charter, and I think their experience was a lot better than mine (less bullying, stronger and more lasting friendships, better self-esteem) so I am very interested in the social aspects of the schools.

Anyway, besides paying our own property taxes, are there concrete actions we can take so that my offspring will have a good public school to attend? Or am I worrying for nothing and should I just wait and see?
posted by chaiminda to Education (27 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you have time during the school day you can volunteer at the school. Otherwise, maybe you could attend some PTA meetings and see how you can help. These are often mentioned on school websites.
posted by mareli at 11:10 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ask for a tour of the school? They may be one of the few schools in our country that actually teaches instead of spending all day practicing for the test, which would lower their test scores. Ask how many students graduate and go on to college.

Talk to your community and gather information. Go to school board meetings that are open to the public. A failing school usually starts at the top. Vote for strong leaders, not popular ones. Help out on campaigns. Run for a spot on the school board.
posted by myselfasme at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure you can do this alone, but a child's early lifetime is certainly enough time for schools' to change dramatically. A bunch of our college friends stayed in the midwestern city where we went to school and now many of them have small kids. It just happens that a sizable cluster of 4-5 of these family units all live in a similar up-and coming neighborhood known for its good housing stock at pretty affordable prices. these urban neighborhoods are recovering from a generation or two of white flight and the schools are a mixed bag - but improving. I dont think any one of my friends could really independently fix the local elementary school, but the consensus seems to be that as the neighborhood continues to change to include more folks like my friends, that parental participation, supplementary fundraising, and overall school quality will continue to rise.

the tl; dr may be that its not so important where your theoretical childrens' school is ranked now, but how the trends in scores and reviews are tracking and where people expect the school to be in 5-8 years.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Run for school board. It will make you part of the potential solution. If you can't/won't/don't want to be on the school board, start going to meetings and when they have open comment periods, ask a question like this (i.e., Why are students going to the charter? How is that impacting funding here? What are the initiatives in place at the school to counter this?). They may not have answers for you right there but you'll get some direction on what's being done and how you can help. Also, depending on the size of the district, the Super or Principal may be willing to sit down with you for 30 minutes to address the question more directly. If they are busy with the start of the school year, look at the calendar and try to find a time that seems a little less harried.
posted by adorap0621 at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

Have you contacted the principal and asked for a tour of the school? I'd go there and check it out instead of relying on online reviews. While you're there you can casually interview the principal. Whats the biggest challenge facing the school? What's working? How is parent involvement?

There are a lot of great ideas out there and teachers and administrators are so overworked it's hard for them to implement them. Maybe you could help facilitate.

One of the things that our school recently did was make "families" within the school. One adult mentor, one child from each grade, that meet once a month. The school family stays the same from year to year ... when a 5th grader graduates from a school family, a new kindergartener replaces him or her. I think it's a really neat idea that provides kids another adult mentor .... and the older kids can hopefully act as role models for the younger kids. You could mentor a school family if you could get the administration on board with it.

It also takes a lot of time to set up partnerships with the local businesses. For example, sometimes the local fast food joints will have a night where a portion of the sales go to benefit the school. If you're good at networking this is another way to benefit the school.

I'm a big fan of school gardens. You could help set up a garden and get it certified as a monarch way station through

But I guess I would start with the principal and the PTA or PTO. Find out how you can get involved. They will be so happy to have you.
posted by Ostara at 11:50 AM on September 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

I am unclear on what you mean by ratings - are they people rating the school or is it ratings based on tests scores etc? if it is the first it could very well be a small group of disgruntled people. If it is data based then it is different. I also wouldn't be concerned with comparing to the charter school because everyone is choosing to be at that school so by nature less complaints. Comparisons to other elementary schools are a little more concerning.

My states dept of education has a crazy school grading system. Crazy and useless but the information is available online at their website . I imagine most states have some sort of reporting system for mandated testing so you should be able to see how this school compares to others in that way.

volunteering is great and very needed in most places. also ask people who you know to be reasonable their opinion both parents of students and employees of the school. By reasonable i mean i know lots of people who complain about everything. A complaint from them is nearly meaningless but if someone is generally positive about most things and then has a complaint it is probably valid.

Finally, people bitch and moan about schools ALOT. Sorting through what is actually an issue is not an easy task.
posted by domino at 11:51 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are two closely related issues: 1) What actions can you take to support the school? And 2) What can you do to encourage your neighbors, including more educated parents and future parents, to send their children to the school? You can start by asking the principal and the PTA president. They might have specific suggestions, and you will get a sense of how receptive they are to such interest. Hopefully, they will welcome any help. But they might see you as a bossy outsider. In some cases, people also set up a "Friends of Local School" organization expressly targeted at future parents, but that can lead to conflict with the PTA.

Here's an enlightening article on the subject: What Happened When Well-to-Do Parents Tried to Prep a Public School for Their Kids. (Link may require subscription; if so, you may be able to access by searching for title in Google.)

"...Across the country, well-to-do parents have become increasingly aggressive about trying to improve the public schools their children attend. But in this affluent Los Angeles neighborhood, parents have taken the audacious step of attempting to upgrade their underperforming local school before even committing to sending their children.

"Nobody is brave enough to send their kid there by themselves," says Kenneth Robins, the father of a toddler and president of Friends of Cheremoya Avenue School, or Focas, the group the parents formed just weeks before their fall 1999 meeting with the teachers. "I think we need this thing of having people hold each other's hands." The neighbors envision, in Mr. Robins's words, turning the school "into one of the top performers in the district" in just four years -- by first getting to know Cheremoya, then working on projects they think will improve the school, and eventually recruiting enough families to form a first kindergarten class."

posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding attending school board meetings. That would be for the school district as a whole, meetings would bring information on what is being done district wide as well as for the specific school you are interested in.

Run for any open board position when it becomes available after attending meetings for awhile.

Join the school PTA, it is not necessary to have a child attending to volunteer and support the school.

Attend the County Office of Education board meetings, this will give you an overall view of education in your area with the district meetings and local school PTA.
posted by IpsoFacto at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2015


Is there a local parent group dedicated to the school district? Are you able to attend a PTO meeting? Can you email teachers directly and ask them what little things they need right now and supply some of it (basic school supplies)?

Can you be an ally to the teachers's union?

Most importantly, look at how national trends are affecting you locally. Read Edushyster and Valerie Strauss in particular and see if there are similar trends in your district.

Start a Facebook group page "Friend's of [School]" and invite everyone you know to like it. Use it to see what teachers and students need. Start a clothes drive for needy kids.

Do anything you can to first improve morale. And then do what you can to bring awareness to others and ask those others to get involved.
posted by zizzle at 12:05 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can you be an ally to the teachers's union?

Not sure what that means, but I would become an ally to the teachers, not the union. There is a big difference.

If the money is there and the teachers are capable, then I would look at the administration starting with the building Principal and then the district Superintendent. They set the tone and should be responsible for how the school is doing.

Run for any open board position when it becomes available after attending meetings for awhile

I would suggest that more can be accomplished by attending meetings and speaking up forcefully, yet politely at those meetings for whatever change you think necessary than joining the Board. Go to meetings and ask the Administration to sxplain some of their decisions and what specifically are their goals. Hold them accountable to the community even if that is just in the court of public opinion.
posted by AugustWest at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've seen PTAs be significant factors in a schools available resources. For example, our local elementary school's PTA fully funds a science lab. The PTA also directly gives each teacher a couple hundred dollars at the beginning of the school year for class room supplies. I also know that some schools in less wealthy parts of the school system have PTAs with budgets near zero. It all depends on parental involvement. So PTA involvement might be something to look into.
posted by LoveHam at 12:21 PM on September 9, 2015

The UK experience is not directly comparable I'm sure, but our local primary school not great when we moved here. I joined the governing body and within a short time the old head retired and we were able to hire a new head who has turned the school into an extremely high performing one. The demographics of the area are much the same and budgets have tightened somewhat, so it's very much her leadership that's inspired the staff and children.

I am by no means trying to say this was all my doing! But I was able to help with things like the school website, which influenced the person we hired to apply, and I was closely involved in the selection process. Seven years is a long time - you can exert a lot of influence over that time if you are willing to get involved and help the school.
posted by crocomancer at 12:27 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not sure what that means, but I would become an ally to the teachers, not the union. There is a big difference.

Depends very strongly on the district. In my district, teachers only have a voice through the union due to the micromanagement of our terrible school committee. Parents voice strongly they ally with the teachers and the local union since they want the same things. The issues are so big, they can only be addressed through strong unified voices.
posted by zizzle at 12:35 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Where I live, the local school was among the worst in the country. At some point, the head of school resigned, and the school district was not able to get a replacement. So the school went on for years with no leadership.
Opposite the school, there was a largish day-care/kindergarten institution, and next to that a playground, where many of the parents whose children were not in the daycare or kindergarten convened. And over time, a mixed social gathering emerged when the parents with children in the institution brought their children to the playground after pick-up time. This large group decided that it was absurd they couldn't use the local school, and they took action as a group. They put up flyers in the neighborhood, and they petitioned the school district.

This situation opened new possibilities for the school board, because they could advertise for a head of school who was willing to work with the parents, and that was an interesting challenge (and possible career move).

A new head of school was a found, and she intensified the recruiting proces as she reorganized the school. As soon as the "founding parents" had children in school, they entered the board and supported her efforts.

To cut a long story short - within a little less than five years from the first talks on the playground, the school moved to a top-ranking, with a long waiting list for children from other districts. Already after the first year, the school merged with a more popular school in the district, and gained several highly regarded teachers.

That group of parents achieved much more - they are a force! But it all began with 3- and 4-year-olds on a playground
posted by mumimor at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I used to live in Somerville, MA, next to a school with a very mediocre rating. Turned out the school was absolutely superb in the earlier grades and the performance of the kids in the older grades brought the school's overall rating down.

The best teacher we've ever known taught kindergarten at that school. She visited us at home in the summer before school started, on her own time, to get to know the children. Then, once school began, she greeted every child in the morning by kneeling at their level, addressing them by name and shaking their hand. Every day till the end of that school year.

My kids had her three and four years ago respectively. They are now at a top rated intermediate school in Connecticut. But it's that teacher from Somerville they still think of with the most fondness.
posted by Dragonness at 3:25 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

My point being that (a) the ratings don't reveal the full picture, and (b) you should study the school's performance at the different grade levels and make future plans accordingly.
posted by Dragonness at 3:27 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with talking to the principal to find out more details on the ratings and a teacher or two if possible. You say the other area elementary schools are rated higher - could be reasons: for example, if these schools are all part of the same district, one lower rating could indicate that special populations in the district are grouped at this location, taught with special emphasis for their needs in this building, and tested at the lower ranking school. So - check to see why the population might be different at this school.

Great thinking for the greater good!
posted by RoadScholar at 3:53 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Assuming that the ratings you mention are based on test scores - they can be very misleading. In my city, the 10/10 schools are in the affluent side of town where generally speaking, the families speak English as a first language, are more likely to have jobs (or a stay at home parent) that allow them to spend time with their kids on reading, homework, etc. My kids' elementary school is rated 6/10 and is in the slightly less affluent side of town where about 50% of the kids speak English as a second language, and get free or reduced lunch - which often correlates to parents working multiple jobs, or just jobs that do not allow them as much time with their kids. So, those kids often do not perform as well in testing. This is not a reflection on the school or the quality of teaching, just a reality of kids that do not get as much parental attention. Also the school does not focus so heavily on test scores, because the parent culture is not to be quite so obsessed with test scores above all else. Its really a fantastic school and I have learned to be very skeptical about test scores as a guide to school quality.

Please go on a school tour, and see for yourself what the school is like. Also tour some other local schools (especially the higher rated ones) to get a sense of what the differences are, and have some comparisons. I even toured a couple of private schools to see what was different there. By all means join the PTA/PTO to see if you can help, but please go in to the school with an open mind first, and spend a little time learning what they need, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I have seen many parents barge in to the school with a revolutionary zeal, while not really understanding the bigger picture. Just understanding funding is an amazing journey into an insane bureaucracy at times, based on local, state and federal laws. Find out what teachers need - do they want aides because of class sizes? How does the school leadership seem? What is the local school board like? What is the curriculum and school direction like? I joined the site council, which gives you a GREAT sense of the school's direction, we looked at test scores, discussed strategies that the principal and staff were trying to improve them, the general curriculum direction of the school, how the budget is being used - and the restrictions placed on it. I really learned a lot, and you should be able to attend the meetings although probably not have a voting seat on the committee itself. School board is more political and IMHO requires more experience, but YMMV based on locality.
posted by Joh at 5:05 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The short answer is the best thing you can do is to encourage everyone you know to send their kids to public school and when the time comes do so yourself. My experience with our local public school is detailed below.

If the location in your profile is accurate my 7 year old goes to a public school in your district and we have been really happy there.

The school is staffed by some of the most intelligent, caring and dedicated administrators, faculty and staff I have ever met. The school is economically, socially and racially diverse and has a tight knit, supportive, community. I have been impressed by the way my son's teachers incorporate dramatic and creative play into their lessons while helping students develop emotional intelligence along with critical thinking skills. It is a Positive Behaviors and Intervention Program school which means that teachers and administrators help kids solve their behavior problems with positive reinforcement and appropriate intervention when needed. This method of behavior management has worked well in helping my son deal with outbursts he had last year when he was feeling frustrated. During the weekly school celebrations the principal reminds students to make mistakes as making mistakes is a critical component to learning, growth and development. From what I have seen both in the classroom and out the kids really internalize that mistakes are part of the learning process and it seems to make them more willing to try things that may initially seem hard.

As a family we volunteer to help out with the school based gardening program. At various times through out the year there are before and after school clubs including math, art and chess, that the kids love. Along with a couple other parents we are hoping to develop a maker club in the spring. Last year the school was given a donation that included $60,000 earmarked for new technology making it the most technologically equipped school in the district. That same donation helped to renovated the school's playground structures and by the end of this school year will pay for a climbing wall in the gym. We live 3/4 of a mile from the school and walk or ride bikes nearly every day. After school there is a group of us who hangout and talk while our kids play on the playground. When we occasionally think of moving out of town I hesitate mostly because of how much I love the elementary school.

The biggest problem the school has is the number of neighborhood kids who go to charters and private schools. The school loses funding, misses out on parents who would likely be enthusiastic volunteers, and the surrounding community is weakened. The charter schools and private schools have marketing budgets - something public schools just don't have. Currently there is a group of parents creating a campaign to publicize the awesome things that happen at our public schools.

I am not going to say that everything is perfect but my son is getting an outstanding education. The superintendent published a report last year about the state of our schools - if we do indeed share a hometown you should read it (it can be found on the school department website). Rankings are largely based on standardized testing and while our students struggle in elementary school on standardized tests they do exceedingly well by the time they reach high school. Feel free to mefimail me if you would like more specific information.
posted by a22lamia at 5:25 PM on September 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ask Eyebrows McGee about this.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:07 AM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am very interested in the social aspects of the schools.

Find out what clubs and sports they have. If there's something there you could help with, volunteer to lead or help run something, even if your kid isn't in it (yet). Is there a yearbook in a library somewhere that you could inspect to see what groups they have, who runs them, how many kids are in them, etc.?

If the school is missing a sport or club or team or whatever that you think it needs, offer to help form and run one. Gardening. Bicycling. Kickball. Chess. Programming. Art. Bare-knuckle boxing. Poetry. Choose something you think they need (and want) and that you or your spouse or both could actively and usefully run. Go to the school and ask how you go about proposing such a thing and getting it approved.

To do this seriously, you might have to put some serious time and effort into it. Learn a sport. Learn a programming language. Take teaching courses. Go to night school. Get a degree. Get coaching or referee qualifications. Learn first aid. Become a teacher. If you need to get qualifications, you could start that now and not be ready to go into action for a couple of years yet.
posted by pracowity at 3:11 AM on September 10, 2015

Nthing Ostara's advice to meet with the principal and ask to get involved. If the school doesn't have a WATCH D.O.G.S. program, ask if you can start one - it's a wonderful and transformative thing that gets parents really involved.
posted by jbickers at 3:16 AM on September 10, 2015

Ask Eyebrows McGee about this.


I know that Nettlehorst Elementary School in Chicago has become very highly regarded in Chicago, despite being part of the otherwise reviled Chicago Public School system, because the parents in that neighborhood basically said "Screw this" and made it good, and apparently, it took almost no time to make a huge difference -- and it started, basically, with two moms. Basically, the idea was "Hey, we make this good, we don't have to also pay to send our kids to private school." And it worked. The story stuck with me because I went to Nettlehorst (mumble) decades ago.

They even wrote a book about it. How to walk to school.

One parent? Hard for them to change a school. One parent convincing several other parents? That's a whole different story. Several parents working together with their school? Yep! It can be done. It has been done -- in far worse circumstances, even.
posted by eriko at 6:47 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Datapoint: My son's school just received a "D" rating. All of the special needs kids from the city go there. They pull down test score averages, but they have made my son into somebody who does not think twice about what somebody looks like or what they can or can't do. He was asking me for a wheelchair for Xmas that first year.

My kid is bright but was flunking, and it was only because of the concentration of specialists at that school that they got him sorted. I always thought there was something odd going on in his head but they defined it in a useful way.

Getting on the PTO/PTA as a non-parent is not a viable path. Chaperoning kindergarten field trips is, and you will learn things that will make you a better parent. And there is excitement and adventure. Why is this turd on the bus seat? You'll get to know staff as you bond while frantically huffing about searching for the missing one in a 300 acre apple orchard.

After you've thrown poop into the woods, stopped a fight, told somebody to stop chewing on that thing they found and tracked down the missing kid, you will get some respect. Then you chat staff up and find out what they think is wrong. That's your alliance. Start at ground level.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:49 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Boston at a time when no one in my neighborhood sent their kids to Boston Public Schools. When I moved back, and had kids, I thought there would be no way I would send my kids to the public schools, but 2 years before it was going to be time for my oldest to go to school, a group of parents got together and agreed to apply to schools together, and to go to them if they got in. They started having monthly meetings, shared information, invited parents from the different schools to come and talk to the group, invited administrator from the district to present about the lottery process, and each year appointed new people to take over and run the next years meetings. I ran it the year my daughter turned 4, and I brought the group on to yahoogroups, where it still has an active listserv. My oldest child got into a progressive alternative Boston Public School. My oldest just entered her senior year, and the kids before her are freshman and sophomores in college, almost everyone went to Boston Public Schools from either pre-Kindergarten, or Kindergarten, and the schools in the area where we live are all highly sought after. My younger daughter just started 9th grade. Boston Public Schools have a ways to go to have highly sought after schools in every neighborhood, but there are some very stellar choices throughout the city now. Many of the people who got together when our kids were young, organized a group to focus on making sure there are quality schools in every neighborhood, and we have become a well known parent activist group. We work closely with other community groups, and the Teachers Union and have managed to shed light on a lot of issues.
posted by momochan at 7:53 PM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

The advice to go in on a fact-finding mission is important; test scores don't mean anything. I say this as a teacher at a school with proficiency in the 90% range, even on this year's SBAC, where the rest of California averaged 30-40%. Go see what they're already doing. It may surprise you.

Make friends with the teachers. Feed them. You'd be surprised how far that goes. Our PTA feeds us before Back to School Night, Open House, the start of school, and drops off coffee, chocolate, tea, etc. every few weeks.

And absolutely run for School Board. For real. That's one of the best possible ways to enact change.

I did notice that many of the posters here who talk about changing schools with a motivated group of parents are from the UK. Some of those things will work here, but with public schools, there's a lot of federally regulated stuff that you can't get around. Charter schools are a whole different mess altogether. As a public school teacher, I'm not a fan of them, but they are more open to change, especially with parent influence.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2015

Yes, you need to find out what's going on with the scores. My son's school is failing and will always be failing under the current metrics because they serve the "severe and profound" population (students with multiple serious disabilities) for the entire district and are penalized for that. Strong in elementary/weak in junior high is another very typical story. (I have become convinced that the only way to fix junior high is to send all the children to salt mines for three years with no internet access. They will come back with good attitudes about white-collar, non-salt-mining jobs that require them to focus on their educations and they will have passed their nasty and mean years isolated from civil society.) One "bad" school in a district of otherwise-good schools strongly points to a specific population being served at the school that has special needs (special ed, English-as-a-second-language, whatever), rather than a sick system.

chaiminda: "Anyway, besides paying our own property taxes, are there concrete actions we can take so that my offspring will have a good public school to attend? Or am I worrying for nothing and should I just wait and see?"

Volunteers are always welcome -- especially male volunteers in elementary schools, enlist your husband -- and that may be a way to help you get an idea of the school's culture. A lot of schools have "reading buddies" from the local community who go and sit and read storybooks with students struggling with reading, so they can get one-on-one attention and encouragement, which is a pretty low-commitment, high-impact way to volunteer ... maybe one hour a week at lunchtime or something.

Look for dads at PTA meetings and on field trips. One of the strongest predictors of school success for an individual student (all other things being equal) is whether dad is in the PTA. (This seems obviously correlative rather than causative -- families that strongly value education are more likely to have both parents involved instead of leaving it all to mom.) In my experience, how many dads show up for things like PTA and field trips and back-to-school night is an okay proxy for how involved and committed the local parent community is to the school.

The most powerful impact on an individual school I've seen was a group of parents who had a strong elementary but a terrible middle school, so everyone pulled their kids out to go to the local Catholic school, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of failure and abandonment at the public middle school. A group of civic-minded parents got together and said, "Hey, wait, if we all commit to staying in this school past 4th grade, we can interrupt this cycle." And they did and they dramatically improved the junior high. So being involved in your neighborhood and creating connections with other parents is probably the most important thing you can do.

I don't think that thinking like this is crazy -- I think it's laudable. It possibly rises to the level of crazy when, as I did, I got pregnant, looked at the local schools, said "this shit shall not stand" and ran for school board. I think I did make positive changes that improved the district as a whole for all children; on the other hand, there are a lot of limitations and competing forces at play, and I would advise anyone who wants to take my route of actually running for office to educate themselves on specific local problems in their district that are actually things that can be changed, which requires learning about school law and funding in the US and in your local area. A lot of people run for office with a naive, "I will bring common sense and fiscal restraint to local government and fix all the things!" attitude; when they get elected, they discover that, actually, these are extremely complex systems that are already rationally responding to the various external pressures on them and that most of their solutions have already been tried (either locally or elsewhere) and have good reasons why they didn't work out. Which isn't to say you can't bring positive change! I have a list of 30 things I accomplished in my 5 years that brought positive changes to the district. Just, like, have realistic expectations and do your research if you decide to go that route. (Also my feelings about whether the experience was good on balance for me are very mixed.)

chaiminda: "Is there any way to get concrete data about issues, since of course there won't be graduation rates/college acceptance rates for an elementary school?"

Your state will have school report cards in compliance with federal reporting rules, which DOES give you some basic data on the demographics of the student body and the staff; some specific spending information; etc. It also breaks down student proficiency in reading and math by "subgroup" (race, gender, special ed status, ELL, etc.). If you want to memail me the specifics of the school I'll take a look at it online and tell you if anything jumps out at me.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:36 PM on September 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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