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Old 07-16-2013, 02:32 PM
 
3 posts, read 4,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharencare View Post
Thanks, Dorchesterite, that was enlightening. Since you are raising a family in Dorchester, I'm curious how you and your family feel about schools in Boston (e.g. charter, public)?

Also, Boston parents can go the charter school route:

Best Schools 2010: These Roxbury Prep Kids Can Kick Your Kid’s MCAS! | Boston Magazine

Boston has some of the best charter schools in the country. In fact, some of these charters out perform some of the nearby posh suburbs.

As a city, we also benefit from nearby MIT and Harvard, who have graduates that are immensely interested in education reform.
We are coming up on the schools issue this year and I'm not going to lie, it's stressful because Boston doesn't have "neighborhood schools". That said, there are actually several very good options right around us where we have friends who are very happy. The Henderson, Mather, The Clapp, The Murphy & Everett are all considered very, very good schools -- devoted teachers & very involved parents -- and are all public. Living on Ashmont Hill and using the current (and new) algorithm for the lottery, your best chances would be to get into The Henderson and Mather ... but it's not a guarantee. There are also several very well-regarded Charter schools...the Neighborhood House Charter School being the most popular.

We will be trying to get into a couple of the top-tier public schools (we opted not to try for the charter route) and if that doesn't work out, we'll likely opt for a private school. We did consider making the move to Milton for the schools alone but we've heard less-than-stellar things about the schools after the elementary years and, frankly, from other friends who made the move and now regret the choice. At least in Boston you can test into one of the best schools in the country in 7th grade; I wouldn't want to make the move to the suburbs for the schools alone and then have to pay for Milton Academy on top of that. I'd rather stay where I am and pay for MA!
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Old 07-16-2013, 11:58 PM
 
288 posts, read 488,904 times
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Thanks, Dorchesterite. I wish the best for your family!

For hopefulmom2013, there was a study done last March 2013 interviewing young middle class parents ("gentrifiers") to find out about their involvement in Boston elementary schools.

Middle-Class Parents, Urban Schooling, and the Shift From Consumption to Production of Urban Space - Billingham - 2013 - Sociological Forum - Wiley Online Library

The best parts start at section titled "Results", which describe parents mulling over whether to stay in Boston or flee:
"Despite their initial expectations that they, like so many in their social circle, would educate their children in the suburbs or in private school, the majority of our respondents instead opted to remain in the city and send their children to Boston public schools. This unexpected shift in plans was motivated, in most cases, by the realization that there were other middle-class parents 'like them' who were embracing a select number of schools around the city... Attracted by what they perceived to be a sufficient number of similarly resourced families in the local school and comforted by the belief that the elementary school experience (even if it went poorly) would not determine their children's future opportunities for success, these parents welcomed the opportunity to stay in the city that the Boston Public Schools provided."

Under the section "Staying in the Schools: Agents of Institutional Change":
"... the typical pattern that we found among our respondents: after operating for years on the assumption that they would eventually make use of suburban or private schools, these parents instead decided it was worth it—for their family's lifestyle, finances, and happiness—to give BPS a try. This attitude reflected, in most cases, not a steadfast devotion to urban public schools but rather a commitment to 'see how it goes.' For the overwhelming majority of our respondents, the foray into Boston Public Schools has gone very well, largely because these parents have taken it upon themselves to make it work well."

I think the best research you can do is to talk to parents who currently have children in the Boston school system and go to open houses or school fairs to talk to the principles and teachers.

Last edited by sharencare; 07-17-2013 at 12:23 AM..
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:48 PM
 
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Honestly, it's a very individual thing. When I first moved to Boston, everyone told me that Dorchester was a place you didn't want to go, and to stay out of there. So for years I did. Eventually I ventured over there for work and to visit friends.

Dorchester may be Boston's biggest neighborhood in terms of area, so it naturally has many different pockets. Most of the area by JFK/UMASS really isn't too bad at all; family homes and shared houses mainly. Savin Hill has come a long way as well, though it might still be described as "up an coming." The area by Ashmont might be the nicest part of Dorchester; plenty of nice houses and a good number of businesses.

I would personally avoid Grove Hall, Field's Corner and anything too close to Roxbury or Mattapan. Also, everyone's definition of safety is vastly different, so keep that in mind as well, explore the safer parts of the neighborhood and see if you could see yourself, and your family there.
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:07 AM
 
288 posts, read 488,904 times
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I also found this article about Boston parents and their experiences with different schools in Boston:
Where Should Your Child Go to School? - Speak Out - Jamaica Plain, MA Patch

Also, in this forum, you might want to look up the posts of HenryAlan, who had kids in BPS:
Roslindale elementary schools

Last edited by sharencare; 07-21-2013 at 12:21 AM..
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:05 PM
 
2,079 posts, read 3,234,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorchesterite View Post
I live on Ashmont Hill (I'm defining it as the area from Washington Street - Dot Ave and from Ashmont Street to Welles Ave. It goes further but that's the "hub")-- smack dab in the middle of it actually -- and moved here by choice in order to a raise a family. And we love it. Why? Here's the rundown:

We have a lovely home with a garage and a backyard. We only have to have one car and can take the red line to work and be at work downtown in 20 minutes. We have a relatively large community of other kids here and it's growing. The kids growing up on the Hill go to a variety of schools: charter schools (Neighborhood house Charter is amazing), private schools (Milton Academy, Park School & Beaver Country Day are most popular), public schools (Henderson & Murphy are the most popular choices here) and Catholic schools (The Neponset Pope John Paul Academy campus is the top choice). The families on the Hill are primarily professional: we have some doctors, some lawyers, ALOT of teachers & professors, several entrepreneurs & artists and quite a few high-end realtors. And pretty much everyone knows everyone else.

Is it an urban neighborhood? Undoubtedly. You hear police cars and ambulances. Is it diverse? Definitely; it's one of the reasons that we like it so much. On our street alone we have examples of almost every race possible as well as homes with two dads, two moms, etc . Is Ashmont Station nuts when the kids get out of school? Without a doubt. But is living here anything like the way people tend to describe it on this board? Absolutely not. People make it sound like everyone's walking around terrified that they're going to get mugged (or worse) and that's categorically false.

Is it perfect? No. Is it on the "up and up"? Heck yes. And is that upward motion accelerating? Yes. And quickly. Case in point: the local Stop N' Shop just overhaued their interior, added ALOT more organic/gourmet items to their selection and retrained the staff so that they're better equipped to handle a clientele who demands more attention. Trader Joe's recently came out to look at some real estate in Adams Village -- the next neighborhood over -- and while they opted not to sign the lease, they're clearly keeping their finger on the pulse of the changing landscape. These are large corporations (not single individuals who have WAYYYY too much time on their hands and an "armchair explorer" complex) who spend millions of dollars a year in market research. If they're investing -- or even considering investing -- their money here, that's a very good sign that things are in the process of changing.

The only thing to be aware of is the fact that you're not alone in your interest. A friend recently sold their 2000 SF home in order to move to Milton (the one down side is that if you don't get into one of the good schools and aren't willing to serve as your child's advocate at one of the other schools, you're going to have to look at the potential of having to do private school or move to Milton, etc.) for $600k after a *very* lively bidding war. If that's not in your budget, consider the streets 1-2 streets over towards Milton or consider a condo in the Carruth or in one of the other condo buildings rumored to be going under construction in the next year.

In short: it's an amazing community. Does it have it's downsides? Yes. Are there more upsides (and more coming?) than downsides? Undoubtedly. But if you want to make the move, do it soon because the prices probably aren't going to be going down anytime soon.
Wonderful and fascinating post. I rented (roommates) on Ocean, Roslin and Ashmont St all right in Ashmont Hill in the late 1970's but kept up with it till about 1990. I was worried it had become dangerous and not great to walk around at night. Gorgeous houses, beautiful area and so convenient!
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:06 PM
 
2,079 posts, read 3,234,249 times
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Originally Posted by JacksonPanther View Post
No need to get upset. I don;t think this thread has said anything bad about Dorchester.

Part of the issue is that Dorchester is HUGE! And as such there's no one correct answer to the question "What is Dorchester like?" For you it's single family homes, in a multi-racial professional environment. For others it's an all-white, Irish blue collar community. For others it's a Cape Verdean area. For others it's the projects.

Your area of Dorchester is headed in the right direction. I'm sure there are others that have stagnated or are falling back. My interest in this thread was to understand the Dorchester described in C-D as an acceptable area for professionals to move into, versus the Dorchester described in various more "gritty" recent movies. It is possible for both to co-exist, isn't it?

I don't think she was upset. She was explaining how it is where she lives (and where I once lived, exactly her area).
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorchesterite View Post
I'm not sure how you processed them but I just don't read the portions of people's responses (and these examples are from just this single thread) listed below as positive (or particularly enlightened):


"I would consider Woburn. Comparable to Dorchester in price and safe."

"Hmmm. Sounds like it has gotten worse."

"I saw several instances of people screaming at each other, at drivers in cars, and drivers screaming at each other. Someone threw a bottle at a car passing by.... It was uncomfortable to say the least and I tried to drive as fast as possible out of there." (This one's my favorite. I've seen worse -- daytime prostitution anyone? -- during my outings to Quincy but I would never tell anyone that that one instance was exemplary of the entire town.)

Her question was regarding Ashmont Hill in particular -- not Dorchester as a whole which is, as you said, exceptionally large. I provided her with an example of someone who actually LIVES in the neighborhood she's interested in.
I was mugged at 6:30 coming out of the Shawmut Station stop. My MIT graduate student boyfriend, from Italy, was chased down the street by Irish American guys thinking he was Spanish and "dangerous". This same boyfriend took the Red Line in the early evening to Cambridge, got on at Shawmutl, and African American men (yes, I will say the race) held a gun to him through to Broadway and of course took his wallet. So, Dorchester to me is dicey and I am sure remains so. (This was the late 1980's)

I wrote Woburn because this doesn't happen there. Period.
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:13 PM
 
2,079 posts, read 3,234,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorchesterite View Post
We are coming up on the schools issue this year and I'm not going to lie, it's stressful because Boston doesn't have "neighborhood schools". That said, there are actually several very good options right around us where we have friends who are very happy. The Henderson, Mather, The Clapp, The Murphy & Everett are all considered very, very good schools -- devoted teachers & very involved parents -- and are all public. Living on Ashmont Hill and using the current (and new) algorithm for the lottery, your best chances would be to get into The Henderson and Mather ... but it's not a guarantee. There are also several very well-regarded Charter schools...the Neighborhood House Charter School being the most popular.

We will be trying to get into a couple of the top-tier public schools (we opted not to try for the charter route) and if that doesn't work out, we'll likely opt for a private school. We did consider making the move to Milton for the schools alone but we've heard less-than-stellar things about the schools after the elementary years and, frankly, from other friends who made the move and now regret the choice. At least in Boston you can test into one of the best schools in the country in 7th grade; I wouldn't want to make the move to the suburbs for the schools alone and then have to pay for Milton Academy on top of that. I'd rather stay where I am and pay for MA!
I actually worked as a substitute teacher in Milton High in the later 80's & early 90's. Not impressive. Wouldn't ever move to Milton for the high or middle school.
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
5,944 posts, read 6,742,771 times
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Is anyone nervous about the current crime around the area? I know it is giving me second thoughts.
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