[VIDEO] Are We Abandoning Neighborhood Public Schools?

Our son’s third-grade year in public school has been less than stellar for us. I won’t get into the details of what’s working and what’s not – out of respect for the parties involved. More than anything, it’s made it extremely clear that his current school is no longer a fit for our sweet, gifted boy. It’s been hard to keep him motivated and interested. At least once a week, he says he doesn’t want to go back and reminisces about previous grade experiences when he was happier. Due to our disappointment, I’ve toured schools and started following more schools on social media in the last few months than I can count on my hands and yours.  In a video below, I shared what’s been significantly bothering me about our upcoming decision – that our walking distance, neighborhood elementary school is not a solid consideration. Are we abandoning neighborhood public schools? I balance it out with perspective from an Atlanta-area mom who chose her neighborhood elementary school despite its scores and is delighted with the results, so far.

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What Happens When Neighborhood Public Schools Are NOT Supported?

I wanted to add perspective from a local parent who chose to stick with and support their local neighborhood school. Jill Lenz moved back to Avondale Estates, Georgia after her divorce. She chose to send her two sons to Avondale Elementary School (AES) there when school lottery options didn’t work in their favor and private school tuition was out of reach. Jill told me AES has proven to be a good fit for their educational needs.

“The collaboration I share with their “special” teachers are the glue that makes it work for us. I also try to put in as much as I can so they can get out as much as they can. I’m a single working mom, though I have help from their dad and my mom, I volunteer as much as I can manage. Theoretically, I always wanted to invest in the local school in order to enrich my kids, other kids, and the community.”

Photo Credit: Avondale Elementary Facebook Page



Although it’s an international baccalaureate (IB) school, its Great Schools scores leave a less than stellar impression. As of January 2019, the Avondale Elementary Great Schools Rating is a 2/10. But recent online reviews from 2018, paint an optimistic outlook of the school. I’ve noticed in my local Facebook mom group (where I connected with Jill), there appears to be greater support from parents in the neighborhood even though a higher ranking lottery school is nearby.

Jill added: “I think that the surrounding residents won’t put their kids into the local schools due to discouraging data, and school’s performance suffers because the surrounding community isn’t investing time AND money into their local school, a cycle that I hope will be broken soon. This pattern can’t be sustained. Intown and Decatur housing prices have soared, as have education cost. Low-income families who value education are going to have to look to their community schools and be the change.”

I’ve shared before how I feel like I’m failing to recreate the childhood for our son that I experienced growing up on Long Island. The last six months I’ve spent more time and energy on his school issues and our upcoming search than I’d like to admit.


Comment below: What factors influence your decision to choose an alternate school over your neighborhood/zoned school? Do you think charter and lottery schools pull resources and focus away from neighborhood schools?

I asked my Mommy Talk Show Facebook followers if public schools, charter/lottery schools or private schools are what they’ve chosen for their children. It saddens me that overwhelmingly (and unscientifically), most parents who answered did not choose their neighborhood public school.

Are you raising babies or preschoolers in that Atlanta-area? Read a Georgia preschool director’s insight on finding the right fit.


About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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  1. We lived in Philly for 4 years and I was underwhelmed with the charter schools for my tween son at the time. He was transferred to a red lined (low scores)neighborhood school and then I.enrolled him a Catholic school. When my daughter was tested and I knew she required an IEP, we moved to a high ranking (#2 in state)suburban school district. I knew the resources were available per student and she would receive what was required. Now, it’s not the most diverse distict so that is the tradeoff to some degree especially for my teen son. He is graduating this year and expected to attend college. I will say my decisions were a bit challenging because the needs of both kids were totally different.

  2. I have four kids and have tried a lot of different school options:

    DS1 (20 y.o.): Private, homeschool, private/homeschooling hybrid program, public.
    DS2 (16 y.o.): Homeschooling with and without the hybrid program.
    DS3 (9 y.o.): Private, public, p/h hybrid program.
    DD (17 y.o., with us since age 12): Boarding school (in Uganda), p/h hybrid program.

    Different choices met different needs in each child at the time. People move to Rockdale County for the schools, and I don’t know why. My youngest’s three years in public school (K, 1st, 2nd) were OK. I still miss a lot of the people there, but I don’t miss his utter boredom and the odd combination of non-challenging work mixed with high-pressure expectations. My oldest’s experience in public high school was dreadfully damaging—years I wish we could reclaim. It’s way too much for a blog post, and why my other three will not see the interior of a public high school unless they’re going to an event.

    DS1 is almost 21 and on his own now. My others are all enrolled in the private/homeschooling program. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good enough fit in that it provides many of the social benefits of school without the trauma of the modern public experience or the huge expense of private tuition. (Although with three enrolled in a full schedule, it gets pricey.) I work from home full-time and deal with three autoimmune diseases, so I’m often exhausted. I wish I could feel good about our public school choices, but they’ve been tried and found seriously lacking. My youngest might go to a Christian school for middle and high school. We just try to take it one year at a time.

  3. This is exactly what is happening in PG County Schools in MD. I don’t send my gifted kids because I put them in the local camps during the summer after homeschooling and my kids didn’t feel comfortable. However they loved their more expensive engineering camps, so they helped me realize its not my kids, it’s the programs, interactions, and expectations. Homeschooling isn’t easy for me. I wish my local school was a perfect fit for my girls because when I was a child I loved school.