My husband and I were fortunate to be able to send my son to school in Wake County, North Carolina. Although he was automatically assigned to attend his neighborhood school in the suburbs, we chose to send him to one of the magnet schools in downtown Raleigh which had 40% low-income students. At the magnet school fair, we could choose from schools with A+ Arts, Great Books, bilingual Spanish or French, STEM, and Montessori, among others. We ended up applying to a school with an inquiry-based curriculum, similar to the several Expeditionary Learning schools in the Rochester CSD. We were one of the lucky families -- several of my friends' children were waitlisted and they had to attend their second-choice schools (their neighborhood schools). The low-income students who lived in the inner-city neighborhood where the school was located were also lucky because they were automatically assigned to that school without having to go through a cumbersome application process.
I know that many parents worry about sending their children to the same schools with large numbers of low-income students, but what we discovered was that, rather than the low-income students pulling the middle-class students down, all the students were pulled up by having access to the resources and connections of the middle-class parents. When we moved back to Monroe County, we searched for a similar environment for our children, and actually found it in the Rush-Henrietta school district, which has a similar percentage of low-income students without sacrificing a high-quality education. I would welcome a county-wide school district because it would increase my children's choices, while at the same time decreasing the flight of middle-class families to the suburbs, which is killing the City of Rochester and will eventually be the death of the whole Greater Rochester region if we stick with the status quo.
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