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Columbus School System - Is it really that bad?

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Q&A Columbus School System – Is it really that bad?

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  • #64379

    futureman
    Participant

    So I’ve been looking into buying a place in Victorian Village / Harrison West / Italian Village. I absolutely love the neighborhood, but every time I mention where I’m looking to my family they bring up how Columbus school system is so awful.

    For those out there with kids are the schools really that bad? If so what are the costs of going the private school route. FYI I grew up in Upper Arlington (don’t hate me) where they say the schools are one of the main reason to live there. I really don’t believe that and have grown to hate the culture of excess that is exist there. I really do love Victorian Village but do I have to move to the suburbs to get a good school system?

    #209459

    lifeontwowheels
    Participant

    I think Columbus is like any major urban city that lies in a state school funding system reliant on property tax. With the suburban boom and the urban exodus, the urban schools hit a decline due to lack of funding. Hard to find motivated teachers willing to work in cash strapped districts for little money, compared to what they would find in the suburbs.

    That said, there are some gems within the CPSD. Check out the thread on CAHS here at CU. There are the alternative/magnet school programs geared to things like the arts.

    At the private level you have the Catholic Dioceses with St Mary’s in German Village. Catholic education will run you about 6-7k a year or at least thats a ball park. I think the number is about the same or more for St. Joe’s Montessori. 2 great Catholic High Schools lie on the edge of downtown in the near east side. St. Charles on Broad St. at the edge of Bexley and Hartley (my alma mater) on Livingston and Zettler. Both within 10-15 minutes of downtown.

    There is always homeschooling.

    Above all, I think it is the parents that make education what it is, something we have long forgotten in this society. Ultimately it’s parental involvement that allows a child to succeed no matter the school district. Living in the downtown area, you give your child/children a great head start in experiencing the world around them. A lot of cultural opportunities with the museums in close proximity, the diversity of many of the neighborhoods, the food choices around the area, not to mention some of the community programs OSU may offer.

    #209460
    columbusguy20
    columbusguy20
    Participant

    not all Columbus schools are bad! schools in the Clintonville and Northwest Columbus area are among the best and compete with the suburban districts. for elementary try Indian Springs, Winterset, Gables, Ecole Kenwood, Clinton, and Cranbrook are very good schools. For middle school try Dominion and Ridgeview. for high school try Fort Hayes, Columbus Alternative, and Centennial.

    for more info, go to the CCS website at: http://www.columbus.k12.oh.us

    #209461

    shroud
    Participant

    Most of the pros and cons are enumerated at length in other threads, so you may get more info by going back and searching through those as well.

    I went to/graduated from CCS (though at the time they called it “Columbus Public Schools” instead). I consider myself to have gotten a good (if not great) education there.

    As already mentioned, the alternative (what other cities call “magnet”) schools are excellent, and compete very well with the suburban districts. CAHS is one of the best schools in the area. The downside is that they’re lottery-based — and if you don’t get into them, then you’re stuck going to one of the regular neighborhood schools.

    The regular schools vary greatly – some aren’t bad at all (though I don’t know that I’d call them “among the best”), others are rough – especially high schools. Even at the rough schools, it’s still possible to get a good education. It’s all about how much effort the student (AND parents) put into it. If a student is interested in learning, tries hard, and has active, involved parents who CARE about their student succeeding, things can work out fine.

    Yes, especially as the kids get older, there can be some safety issues too, but if your kids make smart decisions about where they go and who they hang with, this isn’t something anyone who lives in an urban area isn’t used to already.

    What you really miss out on is opportunity. Since the schools don’t have the income of the suburban or private districts, there are a lot of special programs, alternate/elective classes, and nice equipment/labs they they offer that CCS just plain can’t afford. When I hear of the kinds of options my wife had in Worthington schools that just weren’t available to me in CPS/er, CCS, that’s what really makes me want better for my daughter.

    #209462

    chaptal
    Participant

    My son is a special needs student at CPS. This past year he was in special needs pre-school at Winterset and his mother and I think he had a very good start. He had a gifted teacher, a small classroom with two aides that were also very compassionate and caring.

    Next year he is in a special needs kindergarten at Cranbrook. We’re trying to get him back to Winterset, as he was quite comfortable and secure there. If that does not happen, we look forward to his progress at Cranbrook.

    #209463

    gramarye
    Participant

    At the elementary level, I’d believe there are some Columbus public schools that are good. The highest-rated non-lottery CPS offering is Centennial, however, which is roughly on par with midrange exurban schools like Watkins Memorial. (It gets a 6/10 on the GreatSchools.net public school rating system.)

    The best urban-friendly public school system, if you like the neighborhood and can afford to get into it, is probably Grandview Heights. No lottery, no competition for spots, one high school, Blue Ribbon Award winner, seven AP offerings (which is great for a comparatively small public school and more than enough to make an impression on college admissions folks).

    Upper Arlington is even better, but it’s closer to being a real suburb, especially out towards its northwest fringes.

    I’m sure that one can get a good education in Columbus Public. Unfortunately, the numbers also tell that many students don’t. The peer environment probably has something to do with it. I went to a high school rated at about the same level as Centennial and got a pretty good education there, but didn’t have very many kids around me like me. (On the other hand, I can say that there’s at least a kernel of truth about the old adage about it being better to reign in Hell: Teachers really do like having more serious students, and they do treat the ones they get better when they’re in short supply. I got away with a fair amount in high school that I might not have at Upper Arlington, and while there could be many reasons for that, I think the fact that I was a lot more serious about academics most of the time than most of my classmates covered a few sins. Not a lot, but a few.)

    #209464

    hobbesOSU
    Member

    lifeontwowheels wrote I think Columbus is like any major urban city that lies in a state school funding system reliant on property tax. With the suburban boom and the urban exodus, the urban schools hit a decline due to lack of funding. Hard to find motivated teachers willing to work in cash strapped districts for little money, compared to what they would find in the suburbs.

    What you really miss out on is opportunity. Since the schools don’t have the income of the suburban or private districts, there are a lot of special programs, alternate/elective classes, and nice equipment/labs they they offer that CCS just plain can’t afford.

    This is a common misunderstanding of what the current situation is.

    From their own websites, let us look at a typical suburb, say Hilliard vs Columbus on spending per student. These are 2007 numbers.

    Hilliard District Total Spending Per Pupil $10,234

    Columbus District expenditures per student: $11,919

    There are several threads where we’ve talked about CCS vs other districts. My long answer is that at CCS, there is a large difference between the different high schools (ie CAHS is thought near the top, East is thought pretty low) and your children might not get into CAHS, while if you lived in, oh lets say Dublin, you’ll send your child to one of 3 high schools, where the difference between the high schools is much less.

    Short answer is CCS does not provide a consistently high quality product, while other districts do.

    #209465

    shroud
    Participant

    hobbesOSU wrote This is a common misunderstanding of what the current situation is.

    From their own websites, let us look at a typical suburb, say Hilliard vs Columbus on spending per student. These are 2007 numbers.

    Hilliard District Total Spending Per Pupil $10,234

    Columbus District expenditures per student: $11,919

    There are several threads where we’ve talked about CCS vs other districts. My long answer is that at CCS, there is a large difference between the different high schools (ie CAHS is thought near the top, East is thought pretty low) and your children might not get into CAHS, while if you lived in, oh lets say Dublin, you’ll send your child to one of 3 high schools, where the difference between the high schools is much less.

    Short answer is CCS does not provide a consistently high quality product, while other districts do.

    Wow… I wonder what all the money goes towards? They can’t actually be overspending on the alternative schools THAT much…

    Well, one thing I can think of – since that number is a pure division of the total budget by number of students — CCS has a LOT more buildings to maintain… so capital expenditures mebbe?

    #209466

    gramarye
    Participant

    There are capital expenditures, but there are also administrative expenditures, and one big thing: teachers. Columbus Public School teachers actually make more than their suburban counterparts, who in turn make more than their private school counterparts. Some people chalk this up to unions being stronger in the concentrated environment of a large school system, but really, the market forces push in that direction, too: you have to pay someone more to risk their life for a frustrating existence at Brookhaven than to teach future National Merit Finalists and National AP Scholars.

    Capital expenditures aren’t low in suburban districts, either, with the massive buildings (complete with advanced chemistry labs and other expensive facilities) suburban schools maintain.

    Money has not been the obstacle to the success of urban schools in a long, long time. They’re routinely funded more generously than their suburban counterparts. The Washington, D.C. school system spends something like 80% above the Ohio average, and its system would be the worst in Ohio were in transported here.

    #209467

    BetsyB
    Member

    The only thing I can add to this…and this could be good and bad…is that with Columbus Public you don’t have a choice in who your child’s peers are as far as their economic situation, similar value systems, etc. I do want my child to be exposed to diversity, however, I want even more for him to be surrounded by other children who are going down the same path as him, i.e. college. I woory about that with Columbus Public due to their poor graduation rates.

    It is said that if a parent is paying for their child’s education, they tend to be more directly involved with the school…my son’s private school requires me to commit 40 hours of volunteer service every year. This means that I am meeting other parents and members of the school’s community during this time. Unfortunately this is not the case for the public school system here in Columbus.

    #209468

    I happen to be a graduate of Centennial. I loved that school. I’m not embarassed about attending a public school. It’s consistently rated within the top 1000 schools in the nation (take that for what it’s worth) and had tons of great teachers. Every teacher I had at Centennial was great. The diversity is something you will not get in a suburban school. There was something like 70 different countries represented. It was great; I met a lot of awesome kids.

    #209469
    Chris Sunami
    Chris Sunami
    Participant

    BetsyB wrote The only thing I can add to this…and this could be good and bad…is that with Columbus Public you don’t have a choice in who your child’s peers are as far as their economic situation, similar value systems, etc. I do want my child to be exposed to diversity, however, I want even more for him to be surrounded by other children who are going down the same path as him, i.e. college. I woory about that with Columbus Public due to their poor graduation rates.

    If you’re lucky enough to get in to CAHS you can have both. I’ve always considered it a great advantage that I not only got a superior high school education, but I got it in an environment where there were people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Everyone at my college had the first, but few to none of them had the second –including other students who were themselves minorities.

    That said, I definitely wouldn’t send my own child to any CPS school named after a compass direction… However, as people have mentioned, the suburban school districts have their own issues. I vividly remember substituting one day in the special needs classroom at New Albany’s middle school –a district widely considered one of the best local schools, and certainly one of the best funded. One of the students in the classroom was a 12 year boy who had been hospitalized for anorexia. While I was there, another student’s mother brought him his lunch –a can of “Slim Fast”. Keep in mind that the second child was not overweight. Later, I walked the anorexic student to his next class while he pointed out all the students taking or dealing drugs –every third person.

    Other school districts, naming no names, are well-known to have lingering problems dealing with the entire concept of racial diversity –which creates an atmosphere that, IMHO, is as damaging to white students as to non-white students. Others, I think it’s safe to say, do promote a “culture of excess”. I have friends in a certain suburb already mentioned in this thread whose children feel ostracized at school because they can’t afford to vacation in Europe or the Caribbean –and because they don’t have their own luxury automobiles… at age 16!

    I think it’s safe to say that all public school districts are struggling in one way or another right now –but I’d much rather take a chance on (certain carefully selected schools in) CPS than on any number of wealthier districts with values I can’t support.

    And as far as safety…. wasn’t it UA where they recently arrested a child for planning a Columbine Redux?

    #209470

    hobbesOSU
    Member

    I’ve always found it interesting that Stephanie Hightower, former President of the Columbus Board of Education resigned when her child didn’t make it into CAHS. From the Dispatch

    For whatever reason, Mayor Coleman doesn’t send his kids to CCS either.

    #209471

    manchild
    Member

    I agree with the earlier post about parenting being just as important as the school system itself. Being a graduate of Brookhaven myself, I can certainly tell you that there were plenty of bad choices there for me to make. At the same time, there were plenty of good choices for me to make, also.

    It’s sad to say, but the real reason why CCS doesn’t perform as well as the other districts is not the district itself, but the lack of parental involvement and, for the lack of a better term, lack of care from the students themselves. Most of the students I went to school with were perfectly happy with not graduating and living on the streets. The schools within the CCS district that perform well simply don’t get a lot of those types of students. Same for a large majority of the suburban school districts. Sure, every school has bad kids, but CCS has bad kids from really bad neighboroods. These kids are not just “acting out” but are really conditioned by their elements to be bad ass kids. You don’t get a lot of that in the ‘burbs. Calling these kids’ parents will not get you any help either. They will fight with the teacher before they even think to consider the fact that their kids was actually being a problem for the school.

    All in all, I still think I had a good experience.

    #209472

    foxforcefive
    Participant

    manchild wrote I agree with the earlier post about parenting being just as important as the school system itself. Being a graduate of Brookhaven myself, I can certainly tell you that there were plenty of bad choices there for me to make. At the same time, there were plenty of good choices for me to make, also.

    +1

    I was in a public school system in a suburb of Dayton. My kids, 10 & 7, have gone to private school up until this coming fall, when they will both go to Avalon, which I have heard is a good CCS school. We made the decision to send them to public school for a few reasons. We wanted them to experience diversity, which they weren’t getting at the private school (which was 97% white) We also wanted them to forge relationships with other kids before reaching the awkward Jr High years. Unfortunately, this may not necessarily get to happen, because our Jr High school, Woodward Park, is in academic emergency, and I have heard way more bad things than good about it. If it stays this way, we are going to do our best to either lottery into a better school, or get a voucher and send them to Calumet.

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