Good Schools Not Just in the Good Locations

Robert J. Bruss' urging of home buyers to investigate neighborhood schools before buying ("Location Important in Choosing Home," Real Estate Q and A, July 16) may be sound, if obvious, real estate and financial advice.

However, Bruss oversteps when he suggests that the quality of schools affects resales because "good families usually don't want to move where schools are not the best." While we don't know exactly what Bruss means by "good families" (wealthy? caring? smart investors?), his confusion of home buyers' virtue with their affluence is unmistakable and unseemly.

Worst, is the inference that bad families are those who send their children to schools that are not the best. In fact, there is no difference in the concern that parents have for the quality of their children's education regardless of their affluence and/or neighborhood.

Realtors and parents alike need to guard against the kind of emotional redlining that rules out or endorses entire neighborhoods or school districts.

While a fairly trustworthy, if regrettable, rule of thumb is that better schools are in more affluent neighborhoods, fine school programs may exist in areas that are not among realtors' first choices.

Further, many schools in pricey neighborhoods fail to deliver educational programs that match their reputations. Expensive homes may inflate the impression of good schools just as good schools increase property values.




Oakes and Lipton are authors of "Making the Best of Schools" to be published this winter by Yale University Press.

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