What Happened to Manning Oaks Elementary?

Meet Manning Oaks Elementary School, a beautiful school on Cumming Street named after a historic Alpharetta family. In 2008 the school was named a Georgia School of Excellence for student achievement. Today is a far different story.

For the second year in a row Manning Oaks has failed to meet adequate yearly progress, or AYP. This is a key measure outlined by The No Child Left Behind Act. Schools that fail to meet AYP for two consecutive years are lumped into a bucket identified as “schools in need of improvement.” They are subject to immediate intervention by the state.

It’s downright embarrassing that a school in Alpharetta would carry such a dubious distinction. What went wrong? There are probably a hundred factors that contributed to the fall of Manning Oaks. Keep in mind that I’m no educator, but I’ve got an idea.

The Manning Oaks School District

Kids that attend Manning Oaks are from a geographic area that is roughly defined as west of GA-400 and east of GA-9 in Alpharetta. This area, over the years, has become Alpharetta’s corridor of apartments, condos and dense housing. Let’s take a look at what you’ll find in this school district.

On the far north end, Manning Oaks draws kids from apartments and condos in Milton along Webb and Morris Roads. It includes condos off Windward near Costco and densely packed neighborhoods along North Main and Henderson Parkway. Next you’ll get apartments and condos near the school on Cumming Street. Academy Street to the south is loaded with apartments, duplexes and condos. More apartments can be found off Old Milton and Westside Parkways in addition to some condos on South Main. They all go to Manning Oaks. And don’t forget that the future Peridot and Prospect Park projects are also in the Manning Oaks district.

Manning Oaks, with its declining test scores, contains perhaps the greatest concentration of apartments, condos and high density development of any elementary school around. In my opinion the correlation between test scores and development like this is no coincidence. Most educators will agree that apartments and rental dwellings attract transient families that don’t get involved with the schools.

The educated professions that Alpharetta lured to relocate here are the reason behind our high caliber schools. I wrote about this last year and I still believe it to be true. These relos raised smart kids and got involved in their schools. You see the result of this today. It’s also a self-fulling prophecy. Our outstanding schools are a driver to attract more to relocate here.

Alpharetta is urbanizing by approving high-density projects and changing land use plans to encourage more. Some planners believe the city should strive to attract a different type of person to relocate here. There are severe consequences to this. What’s happened to Manning Oaks is the first example. The adjacent schools are likely the next to experience a downturn in test scores. The end result could be a spiraling decline in scores that may hurt our ability to attract and retain families and businesses. It need not be this way.

40 Responses to “What Happened to Manning Oaks Elementary?”

  1. Wendy July 28, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    I’m sorry, but I offended by the accusation that people who live in the Manning Oaks area who reside in condos or apartments are less than upscale intelligent people who do not get involved in their children’s school activates and welfare. I understand the area is diverse but it is far from the ghetto. Maybe the scores are down due to the lack of ten year of the teachers. Instead of downgrading the people who actually live in the area lets grade the teacher and see what they actually are bringing to the table to support the on going knowledge of our children
    Please use caustion when lumping together a community as ” transient families that don’t get involved with the schools”.

  2. Lee July 28, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Thanks for the comment, Wendy. I knew this would be a controversial topic. I could have explained my point better. The school system uses a stat called “mobility rate” which is a measure of how many students transferred in and out of the school over the last year. Manning Oaks’ rate is 27% which is the highest rate of all elementary schools in Alpharetta, Milton or Johns Creek.

    Mobility rates correlate to student achievement. This article talks about it a great deal:
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6718

    I’m sure there are many terrific and involved parents at Manning Oaks. I just think that Alpharetta’s planning decisions have created a school with a high mobility rate. The test scores are suffering as a result.

  3. Kim July 28, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Thanks for having the courage to state the stubborn, politically-incorrect facts, Lee.

    Of course there are those who reside in dense dwellings by necessity, not by choice. We would have been in that number had we moved to San Fran. Thank goodness for those few responsible families or the schools would really be in the toilet.

    Unfortunately, once a school starts declining, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most responsible people will avoid that district if there is any way possible. You are left with the people who don’t care.

    I am not saying that leadership and teachers are not part of the equation, but that too, becomes part of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Good teachers want to teach at the best school possible, and who can blame them?

    The stubborn fact is that there is a corollary between dense living the quality of schools in those areas. We can discuss why all day, but it is a fact. That is not to demean the people that live there — I actually have several friends in that district.

    The fact remains that the more Alpharetta urbanizes, the more our schools will go into decline. It makes you wonder why our city leaders want to take us there. What is in it for them?

  4. Ellen July 28, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Unfortunately, Lee’s assertion (NOT accusation, Wendy) is accurate. It is a fact that mobility rates directly correlate with academic achievment. Stating the fact shouldn’t cause any offense but rather concern. As stated, the City Council is continuing to change land use plans, encourage more high density, etc. Instead of being offend by the article, I encourage you to be more active in the City Councils plans to produce more of the very thing that is helping to tank Manning Oaks Elementary. Lack of tenured teachers isn’t the cause; teachers can only do so much. When a school is heavily weighted toward high mobility families, test score are bound to fall.

  5. 2andababy July 28, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Initially, I was offended by Lee’s blog today but; after taking a step back and analyzing his comments- I slightly agree. I subscribe to a variety of blogs relating to the Alpharetta/Milton area and the undertones are all the same- keep our city “sacred”. It’s troubling to me because I understand the reasoning behind this school of thought but can’t figure out a better way for the cities to maintain the level of supremacy that has made them sought after by many.

    Of course, with more job opportunities, there will be more people (transients, if you will) moving to the area. The hope that we all have as current residents is that these jobs are long-standing and lucrative enough for a family of 4-5 to make a living, buy a home, and become active, positive citizens for years to come. However, with more residents; comes more strip malls, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, etc. Who is going to put the hours in at these places to make sure we don’t have to drive all the way to Ext. 8/9 or heaven forbid up to 13/14 to enjoy a night out with the family or to pick up groceries? The employees of these businesses have to live somewhere and without them-we would not have this “bubble” (as my wife calls it) to live in and call home.

    I agree with the argument that the schools themselves have to do more to help the children achieve. My daughter attends MOE and she has been blessed to have teachers that go the extra mile. Of course, it could be that I am VERY visible and active at the school but does it take that? I am not an educator but my mom was in the school system for years, and that has taught me it takes the teacher to put forth the initiative and to show that interest in their students to excel.

    Furthermore, the city council does not care about East of 9/West of 400 as far as residents are concerned , it’s just a business hub/tax generator. As residents, we have to impress upon those members that a tax paying constituent is just that regardless of where they are located on the grid.

  6. Gunner July 28, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Wendy… lets called it what it is. Elitist at best and racist at worst. And 100% ignorant. I have heard some people make ignorant comments like this before without really looking into the numbers. I see more transient behavior in the home owners of Alpharetta of late than apartment dwellers.

    These same apartments were present and the student body representation was essentially the same in past years. Problems with tests are directly related to teachers and administration. With many of the higher quality teachers gone due to pregnancy and other personal issues, how decisions are made about their replacements factor greatly in the results the school ultimately sees in its testing.

    And more important to all of this is parental involvement. I have sent three children through Manning oaks. I made sure as an involved parent in my child’s education that I would assume responsibility for ensuring my children were prepared. I took the time to focus on each child’s needs.

    But lets be clear, the mobility of the population has not changed except in the home owner arena… not the apartment arena. So if you want to blame anyone, look inward before pointing bigoted, ignorant fingers. Students do not bring a school down. Teachers and administrators do. THEY are the professionals. It isn’t suppose to be easy. Its why they call it work! When they slack off and ignore a student’s declining grades, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the slide stops and get the parents involved. When a teacher fails at this and the student fails… don’t blame the fact that he or she may live in an apartment as the reason. This isn’t rocket science but some of you think it can’t be the teachers or adminsitrators because this is Alpharetta. Well… wake up! You can get sloppy work from anyone if given a chance to under perform. They do not need apologists making up ridiculous bigoted reasons for their failure.

  7. Lee July 28, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Lee is right on target. As an involved parent at Manning Oaks, it is an unfortunate reality.

  8. Lee July 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Gunner,

    Regarding mobility of homeowners… The mobility rates don’t support your claim that homeowners are more transient than apartment dwellers. The figures I’m looking at come straight from the Fulton County Schools website…
    http://portal.fultonschools.org/School_Profile/Pages/default.aspx

    Click on a school name, then click “demographic summary.” The rest of Alpharetta, Johns Creek and Milton have rates in the low teens for the most part. Mobility rates increase as you go south towards Atlanta, with Roswell and Sandy Springs on up there.

    Thanks for the comment, ugly as it may be.

  9. Kim July 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    FACT: Urban areas cause more mental instability.

    http://www.grist.org/cities/2011-07-11-why-do-cities-drive-us-crazy

    The verdict on WHY is still out there, but the science proves that it is happening.

  10. Kim July 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Our society has come to rely too much on “the experts.” Look at the where the best and brightest from the Ivy League towers have brought our country? You think that is a good place?

    Wake up! Educate yourself and self-govern! Quit relying on “the experts” and rely more on your own homework and what your own gut tells you.

    Teachers are important but they are not the whole picture. Parental involvement is a huge part. And so are the students. They must be motivated to own their education.

    Why is it that many parents I know who only have a high school diploma are successfully home-educating their children? There is nothing in the books that teachers learn that you can’t learn yourself. I am not suggesting that a home education is for everyone — it is a calling. However, the results prove that success does not rest so much on the teacher as the parent and the student.

    Students must own their own education. When they are surrounded by peers who think it is cool to get bad grades, guess what? Your children are going to be influenced by what they are around all day long.

    As a society we have forgotten how to be self-governed. We are lazy socialists that looks for for someone else to fix our problems. Lack of self-governance and morality is at the root of all our country’s problems, IMO. We have all slipped into this way of thinking without realizing…. frogs in a pot.

  11. sarah July 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    When the Fulton County School board rezoned the North Fulton elementary schools two years ago they severally changed the make up of Manning Oaks. The current makeup of the school does not reflect a neighborhood school in the City of Alpharetta. The fact is the Board of Education was told by the community their current rezoning of Manning Oaks would develop a Title One elementary school in North Fulton. It is nice to see parents who actually have children attending Manning Oaks responding to this blog. I have 2 children who attend there and are very successful. Manning Oaks was a School of Excellence in 2008, they are the first Elementary School in North Fulton to have a Junior Honor Society, and they have one of the best PTA sponsored and managed Science Labs in the area. Manning Oaks is a very diverse school which is a good thing. The fact they did not make AYP two years in a row is not a good thing. However, maybe it will force parents to become more involved in their students eduction. As well as force the FCSB to give Manning Oaks the resources, staff and technology to meet AYP.

  12. Groovytimes July 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Gunner has some interesting points but I would like to comment on one thing mentioned. Gunner says “These same apartments were present and the student body representation was essentially the same in past years.”

    While it is true that the majority of the apartments were already existing, there have been some changes as far as MOE is concerned. The Fulton County board of education has redistricted MOE 3 times in the last 10 years. Each time MOE has been redistricted they have picked up more apartments.

    So while factually it is true that the apartments were already there, it is also true that the students from those neighborhoods were attending several schools in the area as opposed being concentrated into a single school.

  13. Anon July 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I am shocked at the lack of understanding here that correlation does NOT imply causation. Also, your failure to accept that Bush’s NCLB is deeply flawed is appalling.

  14. Mike July 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    If Manning Oaks was a School of Excellence in 2008 and has not made AYP in the past two years, can someone please list SPECIFICALLY what the city has done in the past three years to cause this?

    To my knowledge there has been no new apartment or condo construction in the Manning Oaks district since 2008.

  15. Lee July 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    If I’ve offended MOE parents today, I offer my apologies. It was not my intention.

    To Councilman Mike Kennedy… I think you’ve misunderstood my post. As you know, almost nothing has been built in Alpharetta in the last three years, much less in the MOE district. However, your desire to approve hundreds and hundreds of condos is going to have consequences for the next generation of school children in Alpharetta. I’ve attempted to demonstrate that here, using Manning Oaks as an example. Additional condos, apartments and density will result in higher rates of mobility in the schools which correlates to poor student achievement.

    You and your colleagues are urbanizing Alpharetta and you’re doing it with much zeal and enthusiasm. Please stop.

  16. Janet July 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    Great post. I wanted to point out that in the elementary school redistricting two years ago, enrollment at Manning Oaks was reduced from about 950 to less than 700, while enrollment at neighboring Cogburn Woods Elementary was increased to over 1,000 students. When parents at Cogburn Woods complained about the resulting overcrowding, the response from Fulton County Schools was that the County was “leaving room” at Manning Oaks for the condos to be built at Prospect Park. So yes, the planned urbanization of Alpharetta had a direct effect on what happened to Manning Oaks.

    Also, the students redistricted from Manning Oaks to Cogburn Woods were primarily from stable, single-family neighborhoods including Avensong, Belle Terre and Lake Laurel. This was a blow to Manning Oaks – it is reflected in the increased mobility statistics that you identified and, more tangibly, it is evidenced every school day as parents from these neighborhoods are now actively involved at Cogburn Woods instead of Manning Oaks.

  17. SCSA July 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    While I’m not going to enter the fray in terms of student performance as it’s related to apartments or redistricting or racism or not or whatever since I have no kids that go there so no knowledge, I can say this. I drive by there everyday to go to work and I have to say that the parents that drop their kids off are the worst drivers I have seen. Regularly cutting people off going south on Westside Pkwy just so they can turn right on Cumming St, and then speeding through the school zone just to drop kids off. I always go 25 in school zones (just about the only speed limit I observe) and when I turn onto Cumming St, I either have someone on my bumper or I lose them going up the hill because they are going upwards to 40 mph. Give me a break. And those parents are coming from Deerfield Parkway area.

  18. Gunner July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I see 2-3 times more homes on the market in my subdivision than in past years. Many of the subdivisions in the MOE district have always been first home neighborhoods. There are often more children of divorce in these classes than of 2 parent households. Many of the other parents live in these apartments.

    You can chalk up many direct reasons why scores would be down, but the quantity of apartments and condos is NOT the reason. Now you may have a problem with your home values when additional apartments or condos are built in and around your own home. But then again, you should also be concerned with subdivisions sprouting up as well. They all impact home values in a community. And so do the schools. There is no doubt about that. But while an anti-apartment dweller sentiment may be present in Alpharetta for reasons that are more than apparent to most rational people, blaming them for scores is without foundation. IF stats reflected multiple data points about the children perhaps you could come to some conclusion… and perhaps it would say that apartment dwellers love their children less and focus on their chidlren less. MY personal experience, however, has been that the more affluent a family, the less the parents engage with their children on education and leave them in their rooms with the electronics to babysit them. So rather than simply guess at the problem and the solutions to resolve, you should have real verifiable facts to support conclusions. Here, there are very few that can point the finger. SO, the only place we can point is at the school itself. Teachers and adminsitrators. They MUST accept responsibility and make the adjustments. There are schools in far less affluent and more transient areas and yet they do better.

  19. Kim July 29, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Gunner, Maybe you answered your own question in your first paragraph. Children of divorce and single-parent families.

    Stable families and morality are the backbone of any society. When that falls apart, everything lying in its wake does too.

    So I agree that a building structure in and of itself is not the problem. Maybe it is the people who tend to occupy them. That is not saying that everyone that lives in them has an unstable family or uncaring parents.

    Or maybe it is because the best teachers and administrators aren’t attracted to the schools in denser areas.

    You are right that it is not about the structure itself. There is a deeper reason underlying the structure. But this doesn’t change the fact that there is a strong corollary between high-density areas and falling test scores… for whatever the underlying reason may be.

    I have lived in apartments and I have lived in starter homes in less-than-desirable school districts. My heart goes out to the good people who are unable to move out of those situations. In some housing markets, we’d be right back in that situation ourselves.

    It sounds like you are really frustrated with the school staff. If you are involved and haven’t been able to affect change, I encourage you to take your children’s education into your own hands. There are scholarships and financial aid available in many private schools but you have to ask. I also know a single-mom homeschooler whose children have done quite well. I’m not saying it was easy for her, but she found ways to make it happen. Taking the first step is the hardest part.

    If we are going to change our country, our towns, our schools, we are going to have to start rolling up our sleeves and doing hard things for ourselves instead of waiting for and depending on other people to fix our problems.

  20. Kirk July 30, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    I am excited to be part of the Manning Oaks family and the Alpharetta community as the new Principal. I believe there is great value in diversity and a richness that comes from working with different cultures. While we do face challenges, I am encouraged by the dedicated parents and teachers I have met thus far. We have many exciting events and academic programs planned for the new school year. In our classrooms the teachers will be focusing on engaging our students by using a vareity of instructional techniques such as hands-on learning activities. All grade levels will participate in field trips to enrich the learning experience. In addition we will recgonize and reward students who practice good character with our role model program.

    This past year our Math scores increased for all students. The percentage of students who scored advanced increased from 38% to 46%. We are going to apply the same focus and attention to all subjects this year and I expect to see our scores rise in all areas. Our goal is for every student to exceed expectations.

    I encourage our parents and community members to support public education. The investment we make in our children today will help to ensure a bright future for our Nation. We have a wonderful job. Each day we can say we made a difference in the life of a child. I look forward to working with our community to put children first.

    Sincerely,
    Kirk Shrum
    Principal
    Manning Oaks

  21. GA Jim July 31, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Lee – Thanks for having the courage to post this controversial article. It is great to have a public forum which actually encourages a productive discussion.

    Janet- Thank you for pointing out how the City of Alpharetta has already screwed up one former school of excellence by inroducing a high density mixed use project into the school district. It is a shame that sitting council members don’t even realize it.

  22. Jennifer July 31, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I do believe that Lee’s article is correct in stating that there is a definite correlation between transient communities and lower test scores, obviously deeper meaning lies within, wether it be socio-economic status, single parent homes or parent involvement. Over the years, with every redistricting, Manning Oaks has become zoned with more and more apartments, condos and projects. It started when they rezoned the Windward subdivision out of Manning Oaks, (yes, Windward attended Manning Oaks at one time), and with every rezoning since, MOA has become less of a neighborhood school.
    I don’t believe that only the good teachers want to teach at the good schools with the highest test scores. I don’t believe that the best test scores make the best schools. I have two children, who do very well at Manning oaks, their test scores are very good, I don’t think their test scores would be different at a “better” school. MOE has wonderful, dedicated, hard working teachers and staff that truly want to make a difference. I would even say that they have to work harder, and care more than the teachers at other schools. Manning Oaks teachers are probably able to focus more on the quality of their teaching without being pressured from overzealous parents concerned more about test scores and status than a quality school experience. My daughters are receiving an education far beyond the books! The diversity at Manning Oaks makes the school so rich with culture, it better prepares students for the real world and makes for less prejudice, more tolerant , well rounded and peaceful individuals! There is education in seeing hard working families struggle and strive to do and provide better. Let’s start busing, put a little bit of Manning Oaks at all the other Alpharetta/Milton elementary schools, let’s open peoples eyes to the real world and make it a better place!

  23. Kim August 1, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I have a better idea. Let’s start busing City Council children to MOE.

  24. Kim August 1, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    …and grandchildren.

  25. Michael Hadden August 9, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    The problems with the school do relate to the housing stock but not so much the density. The sub-divisions and apartments in the area were poorly designed by short sighted developers that had no intent of improving the community. We ended up with a racially and economically segregated mish-mash of subdivisions that effectively telegraph what ‘type’ of person lives in them. Poor people go here… middle class people go here… middle upper class people go here. As the non-apartment residences age, they become investment properties catering to a more transient population. They become dilapidated and the cycle continues. This doesn’t happen as frequently to well designed communities.

    There are thousands of studies about the causes of good and poor school performance. I would challenge anyone here to find one that directly and effectively correlates density as the root cause of poor school performance. You’ll find that the following root causes are much more likely to influence poor school performance.

    - low birth weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children in the school
    - inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of little or no medical insurance
    - food insecurity in the neighborhood
    - environmental pollutants in the neighborhood
    - family relations and family stress
    - neighborhood characteristics (socio- demographic characteristics such as unemployment rates, number of single-parent families, percentage of low-earning wage earners, overcrowding, and permanently sick individuals)

    People who fall into these categories tend to move more frequently and rent. The unfortunate thing is that they don’t have many options in Alpharetta outside of the MOE district. So, Lee is right that MOE’s problem is related to the subdivisions and apartments in the area. He is absolutely correct that mobility (both opportunity driven and poverty driven) is higher in that area and you could logically link mobility to higher density development. Where he goes wrong is assuming that future higher density developments would continue to exasperate the problem. Proper design can significantly reduce the mobility even with the lower wage earners. Building a place with character tends to keep people around longer than the mish-mash that is currently in the MOE district.

    Alpharetta, should be more concerned with integrating it’s lower wage population into the community by building a fabric that does not segregate them into massive apartment complexes or aging ‘condo’ sub-divisions than worrying about the density of the projects it approves. When people feel welcome, they tend to stay around longer which would reduce the overall ‘mobility’ of the student body. You can feel welcome in a high-density or a low-density environment and anywhere along the scale. But, you don’t feel welcome when you are segregated which is exactly what the sub-division of our cities by use and income has done.

    Here’s an interesting stat that we should all munch on:
    about 6.5% of all children in the U.S. have been in their current home for six months or less. That rate climbs to more than 10% among poor children. Thirty percent of the nation’s poorest children have attended at least three different schools by third grade. Middle-class children have a rate that is one third lower. And compared to white children, black children were found to be twice as likely to change schools this frequently.

  26. Kim August 10, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Michael,
    Conclusions are based upon presuppositions. You presuppose that social problems are caused by external factors. I don’t. As a Christian, I believe social problems stem from internal, character issues.

    Why are some people able to pull themselves out of their circumstances while others fail? What is the difference? Read enough biographies and you will find it is character that makes the difference in lasting change.

    Much like the LBJ era of failed urban renewal that assumed that environment was the cause of all our social problems, here we are again 50 years later thinking that architecture schemes will solve all our problems. Like the failed utopian schemes of the past, we think the last guy didn’t do it right…. if we tweak it, this time we will get it right. How has that worked out in history?

    High-density dwellings attract transients (with character issues and social problems you’ve enumerated) which corresponds to poor academic achievement. To the people who buy into an area for great schools, it doesn’t matter to them so much WHY their schools are in decline as much as that it IS in decline… and their property values along with it.

    Social policy cannot create social change.

  27. Michael Hadden August 11, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    Social policy cannot create social change.. that’s why we need to try something different. The social policy of suburban development is OBVIOUSLY not working. We have more crime, more health issues, more debt than we ever dreamed of having prior to when the government sponsored suburban experiment began in full after WWII. The failed utopian schemes of the past were disasters but pale in comparison to the disaster that reckless suburban development is and will be. The high(er)-density development that exists in Alpharetta today is a by product of the suburban experiment. It segregates people by income, class and race and reduces the amount of natural interaction that historically has allowed people of different backgrounds, means and races to interact with and learn from each other. This now happens at Costco and Super Wal-Mart.

    Consider how living in a soul-less, segregated environment might impact the character of those living there? Stop and take a look around a modern Alpharetta apartment complex. There’s not much there to love. There’s not much there to be inspired by. Check out Planters Ridge ‘condominiums’ or The Wellington apartments. It’s not a Windward subdivision for sure. Then, check out Post Riverside in the Vinings area. It’s a much better environment. You’d be surprised that it was primarily an apartment complex built by Post. You might even feel like going outside and interacting with your neighbors at a place other than the swimming pool. Wait, there’s a post office, there’s a restaurant, there are offices… in an apartment complex… in suburban Atlanta… there’s no need to drive to them? Wow, maybe it would be nice to sign another lease rather than moving again. Check out Glenwood Park in Atlanta.. there are condos that aren’t high rises… A respectable person might even live there. In a CONDO above a shop. No way you might think. Then go to the Plaza.. yes a Plaza where people can go and interact… and see that there are some very nice townhomes (these too are called Condos). A high-character person lived there but MLS says that it’s a CONDO. That can’t be possible.

    Transplant any of that into Alpharetta in the MOE district and you are dealing with a COMPLETELY different environment.

    My entire point in my earlier comment was that I agree that mobility is part of the problem with MOE. People who live in that area are going to have to deal with it. The trends aren’t going to stop because you or they want them to stop. But, swearing off better developments because the existing condos and apartments were poorly designed and contribute to societal issues isn’t going to help. Alpharetta has a limited amount of space and more people are coming. You can either accept the fact that not everyone can or wants to live in a home on a half acre lot, or you can choose to ignore that. But don’t assume that all Apartments and Condos attract transient vagrants who ruin school districts and bring down home values. You’d also be remiss to assume that design has little to do with how people behave.

  28. Lee August 12, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    I once lived in a Post apartment complex… then I moved. Humm.

  29. Kim August 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Michael, We are going to have to agree to disagree.

    First, I was not making an all or nothing proposition. Not all people who live in multi-family housing lack character any more than those living in single family homes possess great character. That is not what I am saying.

    I have lived in multi-family housing and would still be FORCED to in certain markets. I don’t deny that some people place a lower value on privacy while some just plain cannot afford to live elsewhere.

    I AM making is a generalization by looking at statistical data. I know this is not PC in 2011 but facts are facts.

    So in the communities you mention, why would they tend to attract a better class of people (i.e., people with better character)? Possibly a higher pricetag due to the amenities offered?

    I find it interesting that you would place great trust in the city planners that you apparently think got it all wrong with the so-called “suburban experiment.” Do you think planners should be dictating to localities how they should build out their towns, like the ARC 2040 plan does? I think it should be market-driven.

    I own a book called “The Ideal Communist City” that was written in 1968. It is uncanny how similar our current policies align with this book. If I wanted to live in Moscow, I’d move there. But I don’t want to live like that.

    The other part of your post about the suburban experiment causing segregation… do you think it is wrong for people to choose with whom they want to live and associate with? Or do you think it is proper for bureaucrats to force their social engineering ideals upon the population?

    I am a fierce advocate for freedom and liberty. I think it should be a personal decision as to whether one wants to be a hermit or mingle with the masses.

  30. Michael Hadden August 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Lee, I did too. Hmmm… People move dude. If you want to slow down the frequency and keep some kids in the same place for a little while longer, I’m suggesting that we be a little more thoughtful when we design our apartment complexes and ‘condos.’ Most of the ones we have are soul-less environments that encourage transience. Did you live in a Post complex that was anything beyond the standard suburban model of an apartment complex?

    Kim, you’re right on one thing.. We’re going to have to agree to disagree. What we have now is not freedom or liberty and opposing certain types of development further takes away freedom and liberty. Bureaucrats are forcing their social engineering ideals upon the population. It’s called drivable suburbanism and it accounts for about 90% of the available home stock in the country due to zoning that prohibits anything else in most of the country.

    Using the tactic of comparing the ideas of walkability, mixed-use and land conservation to Communism is fantastic. If there were a book titled “The Ideal Communist Human Body,” I bet it would probably say humans should have 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 fingers, 10 toes… Just because there is a book titled “The Ideal Communist City” doesn’t mean that policies that allow walkable mixed-use communities are communist or misguided. “The Ideal Communist Aircraft Carrier” looks a lot like the ones we use. “The Ideal Communist Telephone” is pretty similar too. “The Ideal Communist Toilet” is roughly the same (when toilet paper is available).

  31. Kim August 13, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Michael,
    Yes, I’ve noticed how people are clamoring to live in Atlantic Station. So much so that they turned it into Section 8 housing? What? Not enough “soul” there?

    Also Alpharetta just approved 3 very large projects of what you desire with many more on the way according to the Comprehensive Plan. Also plenty of residential on top of stores in the “Future Development” of the City Center. (Alpharetta doesn’t claim that last one but the ARC Plan 2040 declares it for them.)

    According to this video, Planned-opolis is not a place I want to live. Sure sounds like Communism Global Facism to me.

    Lest you think this is someone’s pie-in-the-sky idea that has no legs, check out the folks (Forum for the Future) who put this out. Make sure to scroll down and look at all the major corporations funding this effort.

  32. john August 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Lee–thank you for posting this article. In today’s PC-world, you are always going to have people call you a racist for daring to state the obvious. My kids attended Manning Oaks….I pulled my daughter out this year (as a 4th grader) and will pull my son out next year as well (saving $$ for private school costs).

  33. Maureen August 22, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    This is been a very interesting thread to read and it is also a very sad reality.

    As a parent of two children that attended Manning Oaks I do want to give an opinion coming from the front lines. The teachers and Administrators ARE NOT the problem at Manning Oaks. As a parent volunteer and PTA board member I had an inside view of the dedication and compassion of MOE teachers. I often ran into teachers at the copy machine way after hours, getting caught up on lesson plans. I saw teachers go above and beyond on numerous occasions offering additional help or providing avenues and outlets for further learning when they sensed kids needed to be further challenged.

    Also, as a volunteer I observed numerous times when a science lab or other program was at risk of not being offered because we couldn’t find enough parent volunteers to successfully administer the program. I know from numerous sources that at Summit Hill and Cogburn, volunteers are so plentiful that they are tripping over themselves. Also, as mentioned in a previous post, when the last redistricting occurred and we lost Belleterre, Lake Laurel and Avensong, the lack of volunteers problem got exponentially worse.

    I also want to point out that I am not knocking people in apartments. I lived in one myself for many years. I do know from firsthand experience however that the rate of high density housing does correlate to the number of parent volunteers AND a childs success at school is also positively affected by a parent’s involvement at the school. http://www.mcrel.org/pdf/noteworthy/learners_learning_schooling/danj.asp

    My older son attended Manning Oaks from kindergarten all the way through Fifth Grade. He was on the Honor Roll, was a member of the National Elementary Honor Society and had an excellent experience at MOE thanks to the dedicated teachers and staff there that I have an immense amount of respect for. There are many kids at Manning Oaks who excel at learning and achieve high test scores. There are always exceptions but the majority of these kids come from single family homes with involved parents. You absoloutely cannot ignore the correlation of declining achievement and test scores and the high percentage of mult-family housing. It’s sad but it’s a fact.

    I would also like to ask those of you that are knocking the teachers and administratros at Manning if you have ever volunteered at the school to run a science lab, staff the accelerated reader program, be a judge for the Reflections Contest, or dozens of other volunteer positions that seem to be run by the same die-hard volunteers?

    If you want to be a voice for change then get involved. Be proactive for your child’s education and find a way to help rather than point fingers at the very individuals that are working so hard to help your child succeed.

  34. Shaun January 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Thanks for the great article and the discussion.

    As a soon to be MOE parent it was extremely informative, even to read the highly defensive perspectives from those that get offended easily and the counter points from the logical fact based community. Keep up the great work.

  35. Soulless February 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    It will be interesting to see if we had some facts and figures about how these “soulless” kids living in
    the “uninspiring” rented communites around Manning Oaks perform against the soulful, enlightened kids of Single Family homes.
    As dwellers of one of these “ghettoes”, we don’t see much of a chance of improving our kid’s scores even if
    we move to Single Family Home (though it won’t hurt to have our own backyard and garage).
    This is because she can’t better “exceeds standards” grading set by Fulton county.
    Her teacher gives her that all the time…may be the teacher lives in a rented apartment too, huh?
    You see, this is because she comes from a culture where parents teach counting (sometimes even writing) to 100 and
    complete alphabets BEFORE the kids enter Kindergarten.
    She’s not the only one.
    All her friends that have a similar background almost always get “meets the standards” or “exceeds the standards” grade from their teachers.
    Not that education should be merely about marks and grades but that is a different question altogether.

    An inspired environment is where parents spend time with their kids.They play, study and do some activity with their kids.
    Big homes, backyards and 3-car garages don’t make children inspired to study more than the active
    involvement of their parents in their overall development.

    So, rather than blaming others, may be its time to stop watching Football every single weekend and
    time to stop patronizing the nearest wartering hole every single evening and give your kid the attention he/she needs.

  36. Concerned Parent April 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    My son is about to finish his kindergarten year at MOE. It will be his fisrt and last year. Both my wife and I are very active in PTA, mystery reader etc. My wife was one of the class mothers. It would be eaiser to pull teeth than to get parents to come help. Sorry we live in a house and not in an apartment. Yes that is why the school has gone down hill. Not everyone, but most folks who live in an apartment usually dont care about the community, and this is reflected in lack of care for their childrens school. My son will be attending a charter school next year, where parents are required to help. Where people beg and plead to get their children in to learn. By the way the class had 21 students back in Sept, now 15. Two reasons single moms could not control thier kids and , yes 6 year olds, were taken out. The rest had smart parents who pulled the kids out.

  37. Soulless April 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    The topic context is marks and grades at MOE.
    While parental involvement at school may be a valid concern otherwise, it does not look pertinent to the discussion in a substantial way.
    I believe more than parental involvement at school, it is their involvement at home that matters as far as marks and grades are concerned. I don’t know about you, but I am content with what is being taught to my kid at MOE. As parents, we both religiously help our kid in the homework and work hard to ensure that she practices enough and understands the stuff. So how do you know that those kids of Single Mothers were living in Apartments and not in SFH? I thought it is the mother usually that gets the house in alimony.
    In any case, most SFHs in MOE school zone are old (hardly any after 1998) and worn out. The apartments communities often have better amenities (except for covered parking) than what these housing communities can offer. So, I don’t really get it how any SFH in MOE is more “inspiring” and how that inspiration translates into better marks, if it does at all. Many of our friends that have bought a home elsewhere frequently bring their kids to our play area because their children have become isolated and have developed behavioral issues. In general, SFH lifestyle is more isolated than apartments. That doesn’t mean that Apartment living is better than SFH or otherwise. It is a matter of personal convenience and liking. Most of the comments here smack of hasty generalizations and full of assumptions. Given that attitude, best of luck to you and your family. I hope you don’t just keep jumping around from school to school.

  38. Saga June 14, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Though I didn’t realize it until my children move up to middle and high school, the Fulton County School Board has stuck it to MOE kids in other ways during the redistricting. MOE feeds into Hopewell Middle School and then to Alpharetta High School. I am not entirely sure of the exact numbers, but it is my understanding that upwards of 85% of Hopewell kids go to Cambridge and the remaining numbers–mostly MOE kids–go back across town to Alpharetta. Desperate to not lose their friends, an overwhelming number of these kids tried to hardship their way into Cambridge. A very few made it in. The kids are forced to leave their friends behind and face a daunting process of making new ones in a school populated by Webb Bridge MS kids.

    Worse yet, Hopewell seems to constantly forget that some of their students are going to Alpharetta and Alpharetta forgets that they are getting kids from Hopewell. The lack of communication to parents from both sides is pitiful.

    There are pockets of weird elementary-middle-high school feeder situations all over Fulton County, but the way the school board continually sticks it to MOE kids is appalling, even after they’ve left the school.

    MOE is at yet another crossroads as the principal, Mr. Shrum, is leaving to take another post. His influence on the school was so enormously positive and the MOE family will miss him a lot. My understanding is that a successor will be selected soon.

    I beg you to follow up on the plight of Manning Oaks. It’s a school worth fighting for.

  39. Kim Snell June 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Does anyone have young children still attending MOE? My visit with them was not impressive at all. I was a bit disapointed to find a “milton” school did not live up to its academic standards as Milton is known to be the best schools all around. Can someone advise on how to get our young children to attend the next school zone? Cogburn Elementary school? Thanks!

  40. Sandra October 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    We love MOE! Our daughter came to this school from private schooling and we were originally concerned about the quality of education she was going to receive. Blog post likes these had us worried. But we committed to giving it a chance and were confident in the foundation she had received already. We’re so happy we did that! Not only has she excelled at MOE(to be expected given her background), but she absolutely loves her teachers and peers. The administration is warm and caring, her teachers are wonderful about keeping the lines of communication open, and there are endless opportunities to get involved on campus. One of the best things about MOE is the incredible diversity. It’s something we think any family who aspires to raise an intelligent, well-rounded child for tommorow’s world would highly value. MOE’s demographic includes many brown people from all over the world: Indians, Latin Americans, and African Americans. Our daughter has made friends who can share their rich cultural backgrounds with her in the confines of a safe school environment. We couldn’t be more pleased to have found such a place in Alpharetta!

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