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Unread 05-11-2009, 07:21 PM
 
4 posts, read 6,441 times
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Red face Moving from CT to Medford area, NEED ADVICE

My husband is looking at a job in the Medford area. We would be moving from coastal Connecticut just outside of New York City. We have two boys ages 6 and 9. The most important aspect of our decision is schools. Our public schools here in Connecticut are amazing. What are the best elementary schools in the Medford and Ashland area? Highest test scores, active parent community, good facilities and stimulating student body.
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Unread 05-11-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sammascia View Post
My husband is looking at a job in the Medford area. We would be moving from coastal Connecticut just outside of New York City. We have two boys ages 6 and 9. The most important aspect of our decision is schools. Our public schools here in Connecticut are amazing. What are the best elementary schools in the Medford and Ashland area? Highest test scores, active parent community, good facilities and stimulating student body.
Be aware that you are contemplating moving to a predominantly low-income area of the country that is quickly becoming a haven for retirees. School enrollment is on the decline and community support for kids is generally rather low. Retirees want to keep their taxes low and are disinclined to support bond measures for the schools. Even the public libraries are not able to stay open in the Rogue Valley (except in Ashland).
Only Ashland has superior schools. I don't think there's much difference between one Ashland school and another, though Bellview has nothing but "strong" and "exceptional" ratings on its Oregon State report cards (see link). AYP and Report Card Download - Oregon Department of Education This isn't like a big city out East where there are different socioeconomic pockets. Most of the cities in the RRV are fairly homogenous. Your kids would go to which ever elementary school is districted for your address. Finding a home in Ashland would be difficult enough by itself without trying to finesse locating one in an elementary district of preference. Ashland recently closed an elementary school due to declining enrollment and that is the face of the future.
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Unread 05-11-2009, 10:15 PM
 
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But, wait, there's more! Public schools in Oregon are generally good. The picture painted above is somewhat accurate, but your children should be just fine in Medford or Ashland. There are true professionals who want to make the education experience the best that it can be in this area. I wouldn't make this a deal-breaker.
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Unread 05-11-2009, 11:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pw72 View Post
There are true professionals who want to make the education experience the best that it can be in this area.
Well, I'm one of those true professionals, and after a quarter of century in the trenches, I can tell you that if intensity of effort on the part of teachers were a major factor in bringing about favorable outcomes, Oregon would have some of the best schools in the country instead of being somewhere just below the mid-line. But all the educational research shows that teacher quality influences student outcomes only minimally. The most important criterion in establishing a favorable scholastic climate is the makeup of the student body: your student's peers. Parent support of the schools is a close second.

Sad to say, but what's really behind the effectiveness of most good schools is exclusion. Private schools and many charter schools generally outperform public schools even though their teachers are less well prepared. Why? Because they don't have to take everybody. And that makes all the difference. If you don't conform to minimum expectations in a private school you're gone. Public schools have to take everyone who comes in the door, but even here, exclusivity can happen. Certain neighborhoods, and in some cases, entire cities, are unaffordable for the average wage earner and so the enrollment district that feeds the school is an enhanced economic sample rather than a cross-section of American social demographics. In some feeder districts there is a very high proportion of well-paid, well-educated residents and the expectations of school are strongly reinforced at home since most of these parents recognize the importance that their education played in their own life journeys. Such enrollment districts generally have a low incidence of minorities, immigrants, single-parent families, blue collar workers...you get my drift on socioeconomic exclusion.
You'll see nothing that rises to that level of exclusivity in the Rogue Valley, though (Ashland comes as close as anything would, I suppose, since home prices are at least 50% higher than in Medford). It's a much more level and democratic system and your kids will have to attend class with the riff-raff. I have some personal experience with New England academic culture, and let me warn you -- you're in for some scholastic culture shock. Connecticut with a per-pupil expenditure of over $13,000 ranks 5th in the nation. Oregon, spending less than $9000 per pupil, is right in the middle at 25th place. And, yes, money isn't everything, but it sure does help when it comes to creating a more favorable learning climate. The physical plant of most schools in Oregon looks like a repurposed Motel 6 with a couple of "portables" (thinly-disguised mobile homes) out back for art and music. Whoops, scratch that! Many Oregon districts are no longer able to offer art and music due to inadequate budgets. Make that "math and science."

Having said all this, I have seen in my career that very few students have had their potential stymied because they had maxed out the opportunities their school offered and were still hungry for more. Woodworkers have a proverb, "the poor workman blames his tools." I think it is also true that "the poor student blames his schools." If you are involved in your students' school life, make sure their attendance does not fall below 97%, monitor those with whom they associate, put academics ahead of extracurriculars, and are consistent in reinforcing your academic expectations, your students will undoubtedly meet them. If you just dump your kids off at the school door in the morning, you'll get a dumper's outcome at the end of the academic reporting period.
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Unread 05-12-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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Default Thanks

Thanks for the input so far. It is all good advice. As we are moving from a really expensive part of the world real estate wise we are able to do well there on housing. We are lucky enough to be able to choose a great neighborhood including Ashland. Is there such a neighborhood that has like minded people who are college educated and value education for their children? Would we be better with private school? If so what are the private schools in the area?
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Unread 05-12-2009, 09:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sammascia View Post
Thanks for the input so far. It is all good advice. As we are moving from a really expensive part of the world real estate wise we are able to do well there on housing. We are lucky enough to be able to choose a great neighborhood including Ashland. Is there such a neighborhood that has like minded people who are college educated and value education for their children? Would we be better with private school? If so what are the private schools in the area?
Ashland is "the neighborhood." A college town of 20,000, it just isn't that big. Moreover, the socioeconomic filter of exclusivity keeps the demographics somewhat homogeneous. I say "somewhat" because Ashland is a regional center of art and theatre and there is also a very bohemian element there...organic foods, hemp clothing, holistic health practices, Eastern religious philosophies, alternative lifestyles...when the 60's crashed, the remaining hippies flocked to Berkeley and Ashland. There are also more homeless around Ashland than what you'd expect. Even so, college-educated politically liberal professionals constitute the bulk of the population.

So there would be no need to contemplate a private school if you are in Ashland, your mortgage dollars would be paying for a superior education already. Education is a big part of Ashland and the high incidence of university professors with children results in the highest parental support for education in the State of Jefferson. You can check ratings on greatschools.net or some other school rating site if you want. Both the high school and the middle school score 10 out of 10 (very unusual in Oregon). Helman and Bellview Elementary score a 9 (be skeptical of the parent ratings; everyone wants to think the neighborhood school that their kid attends is one of the best.)

The most desirable part of Ashland is "above the boulevard," meaning to the south and uphill of Hwy. 99 (a.k.a Siskiyou Blvd. and East Main St.). There one finds expansive views of the valley and Grizzly Peak from Queen Anne, early Craftsman, Colonial Revival and modern homes of considerable elegance (by Oregon standards, that is. Being from Connecticut, you certainly won't be bowled over). Ashland homes seem expensive, but they tend to hold their value quite well over the years.
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Unread 05-13-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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Steve 97415 you have given me hope. I was beginning to get depressed about the area and the schools. Thanks for the input. It seems honest, not sugar coated, but not all doom and gloom about closed services, meth labs on every corner and low income families who do not care about their kids educations. We are flying in tomorrow night to begin checking out the area.
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Unread 05-14-2009, 12:13 AM
 
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Check out today's headline story in the Medford paper for more doom and gloom regarding the status of education in the RRV.
New schools budget would cut 35 teaching jobs | MailTribune.com
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Unread 05-16-2009, 12:30 AM
 
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Live in Ashland and send your kids to Sacred Heart in Medford up through grade eight, then St. Mary's; also in Medford.
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Unread 05-19-2009, 10:48 AM
 
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We're also moving from CT (New Haven) to Ashland this summer (with 5 & 7 yr old girls though!). My dad lives in Ashland and I've been doing a lot of asking as to which of the three schools are the best. They all seem to have great reviews.
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