Our new podcast, ‘The Uninformed Parent,’ looks at how and why families select a school
That’s the span of time between next August, when Weston Smith will start kindergarten, and this past September, when his father, Brian, added the momentous event to the family’s shared calendar.
The Smiths know the when; they just don’t know the where.
In north Oak Cliff, where the Smiths live, Rosemont Elementary is the popular kid on the block. Roughly 1,000 children attend its detached primary and elementary campuses, and more than a third of them transfer in from other Dallas ISD schools.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Rosemont is the choice of every parent who lives in Kessler Park, Kings Highway, Winnetka Heights and parts of Kidd Springs. Private school yard signs abound in these neighborhoods, most commonly touting The Kessler School, located about a mile away from Rosemont.
In all, the families of nearly 300 children zoned to Rosemont choose private education or homeschooling, according to U.S. Census data.
The Smiths, who moved into an adorable Tudor near the Stevens Park Golf Course a year and a half ago, are in the midst of considering their options. Four-year-old Weston starts kindergarten next fall, and 2-year-old Windsor won’t be far behind.
They knew they would live within walking distance of Rosemont when they moved in, and they hear great things about the school from neighborhood parents. But like most parents of young children, they have a lot of questions.
“I think there are so many questions we have that we don’t even know we have because we don’t know what’s there,” Brian says. “I think at this point we’re just uninformed on what it looks like from the ground.”
Theirs is a common dilemma for prospective parents, who can’t quite find what they’re looking for on the school website and don’t exactly know where to start. Is it possible to take a tour of the school? Attend a PTA meeting? Observe a classroom? Meet the principal?
The answer to all of these questions is yes, at both Rosemont and several other Oak Cliff schools. But being fairly new to the neighborhood, and brand new to the school scene (Weston and Windsor stay at home with Emily in lieu of preschool) none of it is intuitive.
“A lot of parents of toddlers are not able to plan because they’re just living in the moment, trying to keep kids alive,” Brian quips.
Visit Rosemont Elementary with Brian, Emily, Weston and Windsor Smith, and hear more from the Smiths about what’s weighing on their decision in our new podcast, The Uninformed Parent, available at oakcliff.advocatemag.com/podcast.
by the numbers
Current enrollment at Rosemont Elementary
Number of students who transferred to Rosemont last year
Number of students zoned to Rosemont last year whose families opted for private or home school
Percentage of Rosemont’s 2016-17 enrolled students who live in poverty
Percentage of Rosemont’s 2016-17 enrolled students who are English language learners (ELL)
Average ratio of students to teachers in Rosemont classrooms
Sources: DISD 2016-17 Campus Demographic Data Book*, Texas Education Agency (TEA) school profile*,
DISD My Data Portal, Rosemont principal Rachel Moon.
*We used 2016-17 data rather than 2017-18 because DISD data is not updated until after TEA’s required enrollment snapshot, which took place at the end of October, before press time.
What are parents looking for? What are — and aren’t — they finding in their neighborhood schools? How do parents choose a school for their children?
This is the focus of our new school-year-long series that attempts to help Oak Cliff parents take a better and deeper look at their neighborhood schools. Each month, our magazine will highlight a different family who is considering or attending a Dallas ISD school. We’ll probe all of the questions, hesitations and soul-searching that revolve around school decisions. We’ll help our partner families figure out answers to their questions and concerns, and we’ll publish their stories in our magazine, on our website and in a new podcast, all available at oakcliff.advocatemag.com/podcast.
We hope other families will be able to identify with and learn from these journeys. And we’re still looking for other partner families. If you’re considering your neighborhood school but have questions and doubts you want to explore, reach out to editor Keri Mitchell at 214.292.0487 or email@example.com.