The Central Houston board has long believed that education is an important building block for a healthy downtown and center city. As more young professionals are eager to move closer to the center city to achieve an urban lifestyle – living in a walkable, mixed-use area that provides easy access to rich cultural attractions, public transport and the sense of an urban community – it is apparent that knowing the education options in the center city is critical to not only keep these young professionals in the city when they start their families, but also in attracting young families to the center city.
Further supporting this shift in thinking away from traditional suburban living are the findings in the annual Kinder Survey on lifestyle preferences. Dr. Stephen Klineberg’s 2012 Kinder Houston Area Survey showed a growing interest in urban living, with 51% of Harris County residents taking part in the survey expressing a preference for a “more urban lifestyle that put them within walking distance of shops and workplaces” even if this meant moving into a smaller home with no yard.
A task force of Central Houston has taken an in-depth look at central city education options and found the facts are far better than the reputation. Of the public schools within a three-mile radius of Main Street Square, 35% of HISD elementary schools, 50% of middle schools, and 63% of high schools hold an “A” ranking for 2015 (per Children at Risk). The task force has also explored the need of helping potential new residents understand this reality so they can make an informed decision about living central.
As young adults start their families, despite the desire to raise their children in an accessible and culturally diverse environment, they press the “easy button” and head out to the suburbs. The misperception is that one must live in the suburbs to have good education choices. The truth is there are many wonderful, family-centered communities within a three-mile radius of downtown and within these neighborhoods are some of the best schools in the region. There are also neighborhoods on the rise, in part due to the influx of more educated, higher income families. When young professionals move their families to inner city neighborhoods, those new communities will influence a culture of success in the schools, helping students and schools reach their full potential.
Central Houston’s Education Options Task Force has carefully reviewed the context of education options for families in the center city, and recommends that Central Houston create a campaign and information portal that shares the good news that there are great options available in the area. The goal is to introduce the concept of good education in the center city, and empower others to share this information with target audiences.
As a result, Central Houston will convene representatives from several center city neighborhoods and ask them to join together to create a vibrant, interactive online portal – the “Living Central” portal – to share the fact that families can live in the city center, enjoy rich cultural diversity, and find high quality K-12 education options.
Contact Algenita Scott Davis, Government and Community Affairs Officer, 713-650-1470, for information on this project.