Why Public Schools are Better than Private Schools

I had the privilege of going to a private school, but I’m not sure it was the right place for me.  In this article I’ll explain why I believe public schools are often a better choice, especially over religious private schools.  If you’re looking for Issaquah WA real estate, this might not be an issue because the schools are universally good..  But if you’re looking for West Seattle homes, it’s a major decision.Seattle school ratings

First, there’s the cost.  Enough said.

Second is the social structure.  The school I attended had quite a few snotty kids who had a sense of entitlement.  It had a very clique driven structure with way too many kids who felt like outcasts.  I know this is common at any school, but a smaller private school makes it harder for kids to find peers who they relate to.

First let me say that I generally got a good education, I made it to college, and have been successful in life.  So I don’t want to over-state my preference for public schools

Socially there is also a distinct lack of diversity, be it political, ethnic, cultural, religious, or even socioeconomic.  This is one the of main draw backs in that your child won’t develop the ability to understand other points of view.  Hey, if you like living in a bubble, then go for it.  But I was disheartened at how I was basically taught to devalue other points of view and other ways of life.  It’s very elitist and narrow.

Third is the education.  I actually got a great education in math, reading and writing.  But science and history were terrible!  This is specific to a religious school, not to private schools in general.  My science courses consisted of convincing us that evolution was a scam, and really left me ill-prepared for college.

History courses had similar issues, with teachers focused on justifying their points of view instead of critically looking at the  facts and helping students learn from the past.

This lack of critical thinking and a conformist attitude sum up the problem with a private Christian education.  I turned out all right, but I’ve always been an independent thinker, so was able to call BS when it was necessary.

So think about this when you’re thinking about moving to a new neighborhood. http://jvpre.com  The decision is an important one.



How to Find the Best Schools

There are several approaches you can take when evaluating schools, and some of them are better than others.  The important thing is to make sure you look at schools before you buy a house if you have school age children, or are planning on having kids.

Seattle school ratingsThere are a whole host of ranking tools out there, including GreatSchools.org and  US News and World Reports.  These are the main two, but they have an inherent limitation in that they mostly use test scores to rank schools.

Test scores really just measure how wealthy a community is, and there’s a lot of evidence available that a school’s average test scores aren’t that important in determining the quality of instruction.  Nonetheless, these tools are the easiest way to get a snapshot of how a school performs.  When you look at school rankings you’ll find that schools in the affluent Eastside neighborhoods such as Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, North Shore and the like are ranked very high.  Some Seattle pubic schools are just as good.

There are much better ways to evaluate schools, but they tend to vary district by district.  What you really need to do is jump and talk to parents at each school, but that can be hard to do.

For Seattle, there’s a really great resource to find the best schools Seattle and to find the best elementary schools in Seattle.  This website for RE/MAX real estate agent Justin Vander Pol really gives great information that the test-based rankings can’t provide.  http://jvpre.com/how-to-find-the-best-schools-in-seattle/

Go to the website in the links just provided and read about how to use the Seattle Schools Climate Survey and School Report to get beyond test scores.  This is a very valuable resource that every parent in Seattle should read when trying to figure out Seattle school rankings.

Now that you know the best way to evaluate schools you can start shopping for a home in a neighborhood you love.  A home may seem like the biggest investment of your life, but your child’s education may be even bigger and more important.



The Importance of Real Estate Market Update and Statistics

Understanding the real estate market is critical if you’re about to buy or sell a house or condo.  It’ll help you choose the right agent by knowing if they’re blowing smoke or not.  There’s a few really good, honest agents out there, but many of the top performing agents are specialists in the art of blowing smoke.

lighthouse imageThe good ones know the market and will help you make the best decision on how aggressive to be on setting your price, or when making offers.  Many home owners think their house is worth way more than it is, so looking at market statistics and updates is a really important tool.

Listen to you agent.  If you think you house is worth more than them, you might just be emotionally attached and about to make a bad decision.  If you list your house and it’s taking way longer than average to sell, then it means just one thing; your price is too high.  Don’t like hearing this?  Well if you’ve got a good agent, then he/she won’t be afraid to give you this pill of uncomfortable news.

How do you know where to find good real estate market data?  Here are a couple sites.

  1. http://www.northwestmls.com.  This is the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, and they have all the data the everyone uses.  Each month they send out a press release with the past months sales and median prices by county and area.
  2. Cash-Shiller Home Price Index.  This is the very best data available.  It’s got a bit of a delay, so it’s not real-time, but all other data is jumbled and this data is accurate and precise.
  3. National Association of Realtors.  These guys are full of themselves.  They’re just a lobbying group that real estate agents are basically forced to join.  Their policies are good for real estate agents only, but are short sighted and bad for the economy.  Don’t trust anything they say, they’re just always drinking their own kool-aid.