GGW: How Parents Pick Schools

by Mark Wellborn

Oyster Bilingual Elementary School

In a post on Greater Greater Washington recently, Steve Glazerman wrote about the factors that parents take into account when choosing a school for their children. In DC proper, this is a particularly interesting issue as families have historically moved out of the city or paid the hefty tuition at city private schools once their kids reach junior high school age.

Putting the question of private versus public schools aside, Glazerman wrote that the main factors in a family’s decision were race, distance, and the types of programs a school offered. Granted, those factors were based on a dissertation Glazerman wrote in the mid-1990s, but nevertheless they probably continue to rank high today.

From the post:

…families had a preference for schools where their own group was represented, but according to my estimates each group (white, black, Asian/Hmong, and Native American) had a “bliss point” that was over 30% or 40% but well under 100%. In other words, everyone had both an own-race preference, but also a taste for diversity.

Distance was critical. Nobody wants to put their six year-old kid on a bus for an hour twice a day, right? Evidence suggested that there were parents who were wiling to pass by half a dozen schools on the way to one with a special program.

Another obvious factor for DC residents is neighborhood, which plays into the distance issue, and is always high on the priorty list of home buyers who have children or are expecting. That is, the better the schools, the more likely they are to buy in a certain area.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/ggw_how_parents_pick_schools/2533

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