walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Schools post 2009 and a complaint

I love patch.com, but they suffer from the same problem that local newspapers everywhere seem to have: they assume the reader knows where the place is. This is not the first and won't be the last time I find myself surfing through (hey, the first couple times I think it involved microfiche, now that I think about it) local papers trying to extract data nuggets to support or destroy a theory. It can be unbelievably hard to figure out _where_ the paper comes from. Sure, there are place names, but you know the joke about Springfield (and that's just the worst example).

Anyway. This is the time of year when enrollment is matched up against projections, and thus a great time to find out which locations are getting more kids than expected and which locations are getting fewer kids than expected. I'm looking for whether families with kids are staying put or moving and if they are moving, where they are leaving (unexpected decline), where they are going (unexpected increase.

Unexpected increase, however, can also come from a place that has kids born in it who are expected to move before starting school (I'm _pretty_ sure that's part of what happened to Arlington, VA, and possibly Decatur, GA), and mismatches from forecast can just be the result of noise and/or bad forecasting. Hence, a very wide net being thrown.

This is the first article I've seen that has a decrease and specifically identifies the housing crisis as a probable cause:

http://lakeinthehills.patch.com/articles/area-school-districts-see-decrease-in-enrollment

Even the people patting themselves on the back (which I support because it's a welcoming response compared to a lot of other possibilities) for having such an attractive school district aren't giving much thought to where the kids are coming from, and are often mystified where in the district these hundreds of kids are living. (Yes, they are checking home addresses; no that is apparently not most of the problem.) Some of the declining districts are creating choice slots in an effort to maintain state funding levels.

ETA:

Somerville is one of the three cities that make up the core of Boston (Boston-Somerville-Cambridge). Historically, it has had families, even as families fled other parts of the city core. At the same time, it has been getting trendy in the last decade (which means younger and not so family oriented). Here's an interesting description of the effect on school enrollment:

http://somerville.patch.com/articles/enrollment-in-somerville-schools-declines-dramatically-over-last-decade

I was waiting to see where charter schools figured into the mix. The earliest urban pioneers that come in with families typically can afford private schools, but the later rounds not necessarily. There's a gap between the group that can afford private schools and when the public schools come back up to speed (a la Decatur, inner suburb of Atlanta), and charter schools are likely to figure into this gap. In cities that have effective, appealing and not particularly corrupt charter schools, they might essentially replace the public school system. It'll be interesting to see if that happens.
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