Public schools, School Districts, and Education

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David Greene
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Public schools, School Districts, and Education

Postby David Greene » April 29th, 2016, 11:52 am

Seems like there are enough of us with school-age or approaching-school-age kids to have a place to discussion education issues. I put this in Anything Goes because it covers a broader geography than the other subforums but mods, feel free to move it where you think it should go.

We should probably start by moving the education-related posts in the Renting vs. Owning thread over here. Hopefully the mods can do that.
Viktor Vaughn wrote:Also, we have two preschoolers, so I we got to consider the school situation. My sister is convinced that the area schools are good (she doesn't have kids though), but given the level of poverty I just don't think that's true.
We're in the same boat. Everything I have read says parental involvement is the key and that kids can excel at any school given that. Of course, the usual issues of race & discrimination apply. Still doesn't make the decision any easier. Our neighborhood school is not exactly known as the best and when I've visited during the school day it looks like chaos. But maybe all schools are that way.

Our situation is a little different than most and we're taking a hard look at all options due to that.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby Viktor Vaughn » April 29th, 2016, 12:01 pm

MNdible wrote:
amiller92 wrote:Also, if houses are just now reaching the values they saw in 2007, well, it is 9 years later. Getting back to the trend from that long ago doesn't sound so scary.
Especially since, I'd argue, most neighborhoods in Minneapolis are more desirable, attractive, and walkable than they were 9 years ago. Kingfield, where I live, has added a significant number of restaurants, etc., and people seem to appreciate these neighborhood amenities more than ever.

Related, you have an ever-larger number of metro residents who are competing for a slowly decreasing number stock of SFH's in Minneapolis.

So, the above suggests that increases in Minneapolis housing prices are probably appropriate and sustainable -- however, if you're looking for an affordable starter home in a popular Minneapolis neighborhood, good luck with that.
I've been thinking about this too. Matching the prices from the middle of the last decade causes less alarm when you factor in inflation, tighter lending standards, increased population, and increased desirability of walkable neighborhoods.

On the other hand, wages haven't really increased since that last boom, prices are artificially propped up by historic low interest rates, and Trump nearly has the Republican nomination for President.

Anyway, given the crossroads I'm at, I've been kicking around all this stuff in my head and I really appreciate the informed and thoughtful analysis of this forum.
mattaudio wrote:Mr. Money Mustache also talks...
Damn your earlier MMM link, Matt. I spent hours yesterday reading his blog, and now I'm reevaluating everything. I might just try to save 75% of my income, eat rice and beans, sell most my stuff, and retire in 10 years.

Or at least it was a good time to be exposed to his bullshit as I've just finished paying off all my student loans and other debt by drastically reducing my expenses and now I'm shifting to savings (and/or taking on the largest debt of my life via a mortgage).

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby FISHMANPET » April 29th, 2016, 12:45 pm

My mom lived like a pauper all her life because she hated working, but she lived so cheaply that she couldn't learn to spend money, so she's constantly bored and ends up just going to work (and getting paid piles of money) and still not being able to spend it. So I don't know, there's something to be said for actually spending a little money now and then.

It's kind of broken my ability to budget and save as well, but that's a whole other problem.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby kirby96 » April 29th, 2016, 1:15 pm

David Greene wrote:
Viktor Vaughn wrote:Also, we have two preschoolers, so I we got to consider the school situation. My sister is convinced that the area schools are good (she doesn't have kids though), but given the level of poverty I just don't think that's true.
We're in the same boat. Everything I have read says parental involvement is the key and that kids can excel at any school given that. Of course, the usual issues of race & discrimination apply. Still doesn't make the decision any easier. Our neighborhood school is not exactly known as the best and when I've visited during the school day it looks like chaos. But maybe all schools are that way.

Our situation is a little different than most and we're taking a hard look at all options due to that.
My GF teaches in a North Mpls elementary school and her stories are pretty shocking. We play the 'true or false' game in our family at dinner each night (tell a story about our day and the family guesses if it's true or false). GF tells teaching stories pretty much every day that are behavior related and invariably 'true'.

Certainly parental involvement mitigates much of that, but at the end of they day I can't get over how much time she spends dedicating to discipline and disruptive behavior. The kids at that school must literally lose weeks of education over the course of a year because of the time spent on classroom issues. I just can't see how that doesn't have a serious impact.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby David Greene » April 29th, 2016, 1:27 pm

kirby96 wrote:Certainly parental involvement mitigates much of that, but at the end of they day I can't get over how much time she spends dedicating to discipline and disruptive behavior. The kids at that school must literally lose weeks of education over the course of a year because of the time spent on classroom issues. I just can't see how that doesn't have a serious impact.
It probably does. But what do we do about it? People complain about "absent" parents all the time but those same people don't seem to consider that when a single mom holds down two jobs to pay the bills, something is going to fall on the floor. Even poorer two-parent families often have that kind of time crunch.

Just noting that the solution is beyond simply, "fix the schools," or, "fix the parents," not that that's what you are saying at all.

Anyway, this should probably all get moved to an education thread. It seems like a lot of us either have or soon will have school-age children so it would be valuable to me to have a place to discuss things like this.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby kirby96 » April 29th, 2016, 2:34 pm

^Yeah, should move these to an education thread, but I'll just say I agree. Unfortunately I think the nuance is lost (as with just about everything) in the dialog that occurs. It becomes either 'schools are bad so spend more money on them!' or 'schools are bad so parents need to be more responsible!', instead of 'schools are bad in large part because too many people lead lives where being the parent they almost certainly want to be is very difficult'. I think that leads to a different paradigm but with possible solutions that are probably much more difficult to 'sell' to any political constituency with real power. I think it's likely those potential solutions are uncomfortable for the hypothetical folks on both sides of the two over-simplified arguments above.

I basically just stated an obvious problem and I don't really have solutions to offer, so color me as growing older and more cynical (sigh).

(note: saying schools are 'bad' is loaded, just used that for brevity and convenience.)

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Tiller
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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby Tiller » April 29th, 2016, 4:26 pm

Well, I just offered these as solutions for spurring small business growth in another thread, but they'd also help reduce strain on families raising children, thus improving educational outcomes: Single-payer Healthcare and an unconditional Universal Basic Income.

Relating to Renting vs. Owning topic, I hate the idea of a $200k+ mortgage, and really want to avoid carrying such a large debt load. I've had some conversations about communal living with some friends (including our future [potential] respective families) in the future. We'd ideally own wherever we live, not rent. Any amenities we'd like to add (in addition to the initial cost/mortgage) would be paid for quickly with us all splitting the costs. It'd also give some stability that you wouldn't necessarily have with just one (or even two) income streams. What zoning/other regulations govern coop living in Minneapolis/St Paul?

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby FISHMANPET » April 29th, 2016, 5:55 pm

No more than three unrelated persons in single family zones. But I don't know if there's any way to enforce that for ownership?

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby cnelson » April 30th, 2016, 6:17 am

That may be changing - http://www.mndaily.com/news/metro-state ... sing-rules

(Though they seem to be focused on groups renting from landlords rather than the group owning the property directly.)

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby min-chi-cbus » April 30th, 2016, 9:30 am

Our family is relocating back to Minneapolis (!!) and I'm in the daunting process of trying to find a neighborhood that has:

-walkability/semi-urban streets
-semi-affordable rentals (rents below $1,800/mo for 3+ bedrooms)
-low crime
-diversity
-great schools
-accessible to nearby retail
-homes to rent (for now)
-homes to purchase (in a year or two or three)
-and all without moving our kids to another school district (so within the same school district)

I have no idea what to look for when I look at schools that would help me identify which schools give our children the best chance to get a premier education, aside from listening to others and using rankings as a general guide. So far we've narrowed it down to three or four school districts:

-Harriet schools (Linden Hills/Fulton)
-Kenny/Burroughs schools (Kenny/Armatage/Windom/Tangletown/Lynhurst)
-Cornelia school (SE Edina - Lake Cornelia/South Cornelia)


I'm most intrigued about Kenny because that's where I grew up and it has most of the amenities we're looking for. I just want to make sure that Kenny is the kind of school where our kids can thrive, or do they have to be in Edina or Linden Hills (or Eden Prairie or Minnetonka) to have that kind of education? St. Louis Park and Hopkins were two other cities we were interested in but after seeing their relatively lower schools scores they may be out now. So far our only school-aged child has started in the IB program here in Shaker Heights, and we know that's a great program for our kids. Ultimately, regardless of what mine or my wife's ideal living situation is, we're probably going to end up placing ourselves in a school district that gives our kids the best education -- wherever that may be.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby Anondson » April 30th, 2016, 10:15 am

Saint Louis Park just finished changing the school system to IB, FWIW. I live in Hopkins but open enroll to SLP.

School district ratings are wacked. Neighborhood schools that have demographic challenges somehow reflect on other neighborhood schools ratings because the entire district is rated together. My son has been in the SLP system his entire school time, he's finishing 9th grade this year.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby min-chi-cbus » April 30th, 2016, 12:41 pm

Anondson wrote:Saint Louis Park just finished changing the school system to IB, FWIW. I live in Hopkins but open enroll to SLP.

School district ratings are wacked. Neighborhood schools that have demographic challenges somehow reflect on other neighborhood schools ratings because the entire district is rated together. My son has been in the SLP system his entire school time, he's finishing 9th grade this year.
Thanks for that information -- that's great to hear! When did they make the switch? Perhaps that explains the low -- but rising -- school rankings, and perhaps it's an underrated program. Do you like SLP schools -- before and after the IB switch?

I'm so in the dark as to what to look for in schools!
Last edited by min-chi-cbus on April 30th, 2016, 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby seanrichardryan » April 30th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Try St. Paul!
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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby grant1simons2 » April 30th, 2016, 9:20 pm

Southwest has IB too ;)

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Anondson
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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby Anondson » May 1st, 2016, 1:07 am

min-chi-cbus wrote:Thanks for that information -- that's great to hear! When did they make the switch? Perhaps that explains the low -- but rising -- school rankings, and perhaps it's an underrated program. Do you like SLP schools -- before and after the IB switch?
I seem to recall for him it starting when he began 6th grade. It was slowly rolled into the elementary, middle, and high schools. By now all schools are using IB.

My son is high functioning Asperger's and we think the services he's gotten have been stellar. I'm doubly biased though because I graduated from there in '91. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby amiller92 » May 2nd, 2016, 9:33 am

min-chi-cbus wrote:I'm so in the dark as to what to look for in schools!
Allow me to make the facile observation of the childless: you matter way more than the school.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby mister.shoes » May 2nd, 2016, 11:51 am

I'm pretty sure I've said this elsewhere before, but mrs.shoes is an elementary teacher. On several occasions, she's mentioned to me that something like 80% of a child's learning happens at home and that in-school 20% is largely dependent upon the parents' involvement in the process. The quality of a school matters, but not nearly as much as the general public tends to think.
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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby LakeCharles » May 2nd, 2016, 12:08 pm

min-chi-cbus wrote: So far we've narrowed it down to three or four school districts:

-Harriet schools (Linden Hills/Fulton)
-Kenny/Burroughs schools (Kenny/Armatage/Windom/Tangletown/Lynhurst)
-Cornelia school (SE Edina - Lake Cornelia/South Cornelia)
I have nothing but great things to say about the Hale/Field schools in Minneapolis. Also remember you can live anywhere in Minneapolis and try to do the magnet schools like Dowling, Barton, etc.

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 2nd, 2016, 12:20 pm

Since this is a renting vs owning thread, boy wouldn't it be great if those school districts in Mpls had way more apartments for some lower income families?

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Re: Renting vs. Owning | Apartments vs. Condos

Postby twincitizen » May 2nd, 2016, 1:02 pm

Similarly trying to get this halfway back on track, it's weird to think about schools (in terms of buying a house in a particular neighborhood) when you don't even have kids yet. But a lot of people do!! Like the soonest I could possibly have a kid in elementary school is 6-7 years from now (incl. gestation). On average, do most people even stay in their first/starter home that long? Particularly at the lower end of the starter home market (assuming not buying a great/ideal house on the first crack)? Obviously school quality influences home prices (therefore affecting your resale in 6+ years down the line), but like in general, childless couples should not really give too much thought to schools, right? The whole damn world can change in that amount of time.


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