10 Ways to Pick The Right District

Jay Matthews:

We say we are buying a house. But for most of us parents, the house is not the whole story. It is the local public school we are investing in, and sometimes it can be a very daunting financial and personal decision.
In the early 1990s, when my journalist wife was making what seemed to me big bucks as a television producer, we could afford to live in Scarsdale, N.Y. That village’s public schools cost us about as much in real estate taxes as the tuition at the private schools our kids had attended in Pasadena, Calif. Fortunately, we got what we paid for in Scarsdale. That is not always the case.
How do parents evaluate the schools their children may attend and escape the heartbreak of buying a great house that turns out to be in the attendance zone of a flawed school? Here are 10 ways to make the right choice, in descending importance. Feel free to re-prioritize them based on your personal tendencies:
1. Go with your gut. This sounds unscientific, but I don’t care. After you have analyzed all the data and had the conversations outlined below, you still have to make a decision. Consider how you react emotionally to a school. Consult your viscera. If you’re not feeling it, don’t send your kids there. They will sense you have doubts at a time when they need to believe that this is the place for them.