10 February 2010

Families Move Here for the (Public) Schools

Yes, believe it or not. Over the past two weeks I have talked with or heard about several families that have specifically moved back into the city so that their children can attend one of Cincinnati Public Schools' Magnet programs. A sampling:

1. I met a former co-worker at the art museum. When I worked with him 15 years ago, he had just married, and was living in Batavia and commuting in to the city. When his kids reached school age, they moved to Mt Washington, specifically so their children could attend Sands Montessori. I know many families who live in Mt Washington for this exact same reason. My old coworker grew up in Clermont County and he always said his primary education was very poor. Also his children are biracial and I assume he didn't feel the diversity would be sufficient in Batavia. They love Sands, and that feeling seems universal with families there.

2. I just found out that a young family from Seattle, in which the mother has some Cincinnati roots, is buying a vacant building on Elm Street. They have a 12 year old child that has auditioned for SCPA and has also interviewed for a possible Walnut Hills admission. They are selling their expensive house in Seattle and settling in OTR to be "where the action is".!!??

3. OTRCH (OTR Community Housing) just sold a townhouse on Pleasant Street to a young family that already attends SCPA. They are very excited about the proposed changes to Washington Park and the new SCPA building.

4. We have become friends with a new neighbor with a little girl. They moved from White Oak (a Northwest suburb) to Over-the-Rhine specifically to attend SCPA kindergarten in the Fall. They are very excited to be able to walk to school to such a wonderful new facility.

There are dozens more families that I know personally that have bought homes close to the CPS school of their choice. There are probably hundreds more that are buying homes close to schools such as Dater Montessori, North Avondale Montessori, Kilgour, Covedale, SCPA, Walnut Hills, Clark Montessori etc.. And think about this. Where else do you have such choice? If you live in Mason, you have no choice about which public school you attend. CPS has many city-wide magnet programs for elementary school, and ALL of the high schools now enroll district-wide and are effectively magnet schools. I know a family with many children and some are attending Walnut Hills, some are attending Clark and some are attending Mercy Montessori and other Catholic schools. In fact I think they have one attending Covington Latin. The choices here are amazing and I really cannot imaging having it any other way.


5chw4r7z said...

Random other school thoughts;
A huge twitter conversation the other day about people migrating to where schools are great, but then voting down levies effectively shooting themselves in the foot.

CPS consistantly finishes high in national rankings and we passed a much needed levy last November.

Watching interviews from Miami were the levy failed I also had this thought, you hear people complain that entertainers make more money than teachers, I wonder how those people vote on school levies.

Andrew said...

my brother and his family live in mt. washington and his kids go to sands... they love it, too.

TerminatorJoe said...

The German language school, Fairview is very popular, with a waiting list. We were homeschooling when our kids were young, or would have considered that (we ended up just outside the city limits).

Anonymous said...

We stayed in the CPS district when we could have moved out to the suburbs specifically because of the Montessori schools and Walnut Hills. We deeply appreciate the combination of diversity with an expectation of excellence.

What scares me, however, is that so many people consider the magnet programs "elitist." Even within the CPS administration and teaching ranks, places like Walnut Hills have enemies. Our family always seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop; we keep expecting some budget-pinched administrator to take an axe to the magnet programs.

Unknown said...

When we moved here from NYC, with our newborn daughter, we rented for a year so we could figure out where we wanted to buy a house. We looked at the usual nice middle class places (Montgomery, Mariemont, Wyoming, etc.) but picked Mt. Lookout. At least half of our decision was based on Kilgour and Walnut Hills. You'd never convince my wife to move to some parts of the city (OTR for example), but if not for the quality of the schools, we'd be out there somewhere in the (inner) burbs.

But I definitely agree with Anon, regarding the fragility of the current situation. If there is a backlash and these high-quality schools degrade, I think you'll see a pretty big exodus (at least among the non-catholics). I admit to being a relative newcomer, but I'm sure it took a lot of work to get the quality that we do have. It would take a lot less for it to all fall apart.

Unknown said...

I give this post an A-plus.
And, he plays well with others.

CityKin said...

Dan and Anon,
There may be detractors, but the history speaks for itself. The magnet program began in 1972 with 5 schools and has only grown and strengthened every decade. Walnut Hills history is even longer. Now with all high schools becoming schools of choice, these programs are only going to grow.

Anonymous said...

let's be clear that they are moving for a very few city schools and these are somewhat elitist. when people move here for the quality of the whole system then we can talk.

CityKin said...

^the real elitists are school districts whose boundaries include only expensive homes and few, if any rental units like Sycamore and Indian Hill etc etc. Pot meet kettle.

CityKin said...

and by the way..

Are a dozen primary schools and half a dozen high schools "a few"?

I think not. CPS keeps adding to the success list despite naysayers like yourself. The point is that these schools attract residents and success breeds more success and repopulation of the city.

CityKin said...

and another thing. choice. you have it in Cincy, you do not in most other districts.

missi said...

THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!! We stayed in the city and 3 of our children attend North Avondale Montessori and we LOVE it.

We LOVE that we have choices. Our children are all different in personalities and we have the options of sending each to the place that will most benefit them individually.

To say that schools are elitist shows that the you haven't been in one of those schools. Because a school has a group of parents and teachers, students and community members willing to do what they can to make their school successful, does not make them elitist. ANY child has the option of going to a magnet. It's not for the few- it's for all. It's one of the ways to help narrow the gap for families that want better for their children.

Anonymous said...

the other Anon said "Our family always seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop; we keep expecting some budget-pinched administrator to take an axe to the magnet programs."
Truth is, this has already happened. Magnet schools get the same per-student funding as all the other schools. SCPA and Walnut and others raise money through parent groups, alumni, etc to keep the programs going. It is a struggle. I agree, all schools should be good. But I really think that many schools that aren't good are not good mainly due to the poverty challenges that the families/students face. The higher-rate schools have lower poverty numbers. The parents are involved, and help out a lot in the schools, and the students in the magnet schools come to school better prepared to learn. Not because they are smarter or better, but because their families have the resources to support a stable, nurturing home life.