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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 06/23/2011

Finding pride in the D.C. Public schools

A majority of parents whose children are in the D.C. public school system believe the schools are doing a “good” or “excellent” job according to a new Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

The Post story yesterday on the study compares it to a similar one in 2008 that found only 31 percent of public school parents expressed such pride in the system. That’s quite a jump and it mirrors the changing conversation among parents in the city.

The opinion of D.C. schools — which was once rarely discussed among many parents who looked for other options — seems now to be the top topic of discussion.

Many neighborhoods e-mail exchanges are alive with the topic. The parents on the forum for Brookland in Northwest D.C., for instance, seem to talk of little else.

Opinions of the schools vary neighborhood by neighborhood, but overall there is more commitment to the system judging from the number of families who applied for out-of-boundary slots in the schools this year. As my previous post noted, more than 5,400 students are currently waitlisted for a spot in the coveted schools.

As one father told The Post “For the longest time, once your kid got into first or second grade, you would move to Arlington or Bethesda.” He said he doesn’t hear that much anymore.

That is not to say parents all over the city are happy about their own school. The opinions vary neighborhood by neighborhood and many families don’t have the financial means to choose another option.

Plus, there’s a significant portion of local parents who wouldn’t dream of enrolling in a city school. Only 30 percent of parents who do not have a child enrolled in the schools think the schools are doing a good or excellent job.

For a sampling of the negative views, read a few of the comments from my earlier posts on how Parenting Magazine rated D.C. as the top city in the country to raise a family. Several comments excoriated the magazine’s education rankings, which placed D.C. higher than most other cities schools.

Or take my neighbor.

My family has been lucky enough to secure a spot in a D.C. public school we like for the fall. When this neighbor, a father and friend of mine, found out that we’d be sending our daughter to the school, he said, “So you’ll be the test case.”

Many parents still think of the D.C. schools this way. Another D.C .father told The Post that he is sending his children to private school because “You don’t want to experiment on your own children.”

What do you think of the DC school system? If you live in the city, do you plan to enroll your child in a public school? Why or why not?

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 06/23/2011

 
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