Monday, May 10, 2021

Local Schools

One of our local rags recently quoted the new DHA president suggesting that local real estate values would skyrocket if Dunwoody had its own schools. Having more than just a little expertise in real estate he probably knows what he is talking about with regards to the impact of school quality and home values. The open question is how one measures quality: would Dunwoody schools perforce be better, and how would that actually happen?

Dare we suggest that these are intractable? That facts are not nearly as important as marketing? That perception is what matters, that feeling the schools are top notch carries more weight than actual results? After all, that is the lived experience of the last several decades. 

So if there is no likely improvement in academic achievement, is establishing local schools a bad idea? Actually no. While the likelihood of academic improvement is low there are significant benefits that are mostly off-campus. 

Very likely the DHA prez is correct in saying that home values would improve with local schools just as "neighborhood schools" are more attractive than "mega schools." It is worth noting the foundation for these calculations is relativism. The schools need not actually meet any absolute performance goals, they only need to be better than the alternative. Think "running from a bear." 

There is a much better reason to circle the wagons with a smaller, close to home school system and naturally that is all about money. Specifically the money that the city currently steals from DeKalb County Schools. Would local schools, with neighbors and only neighbors on the board long tolerate this blatant financial undermining of the community's children and their education? Probably not. And THAT might lead to sanity in dealing with the over-development running roughshod over this community. Maybe, just maybe, developers would be paying impact fees instead of stealing excessive profits from our children's futures.