Parenting & Family

Sending Kids to School if you live Downtown Toronto

[OP]
Sr. Member
Jul 30, 2008
894 posts
38 upvotes

Sending Kids to School if you live Downtown Toronto

Always wondered, there are clearly a ton of condos downtown, and clearly a ton of them that are not dumps, etc. I'm sure lots are owned by people who do not have kids, but there has to be at least a decent percentage for which parents have school-aged children.

Where do these kids go to school? The school ratings for the most part seem to be pretty bad. I can't imagine that people who are living in condos in the downtown core which are now worth a million or so, are sending their kids to a school on Parliament street for example, with a rough-ish neighbourhood and pretty low ratings. I hear that Order Public school is a really good school, but that seems to be about it for downtown. I also can't believe that every parent that is middle class/upper middle class just moves out of downtown when it's time for their kids to go to school. So there has to be some third option, or something that I'm missing. And let's for the sake of argument ignore COVID-19, with the obvious caveat that many more people might not need to choose between living downtown or living in the suburbs but not close to work in a year or two.

I'm asking as someone who wants to live close to work, doesn't care for ever owning a property, but has not figured out where he would send his kids to school without moving to the suburbs.
19 replies
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Dec 20, 2018
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tribe1689 wrote: Always wondered, there are clearly a ton of condos downtown, and clearly a ton of them that are not dumps, etc. I'm sure lots are owned by people who do not have kids, but there has to be at least a decent percentage for which parents have school-aged children.

Where do these kids go to school? The school ratings for the most part seem to be pretty bad. I can't imagine that people who are living in condos in the downtown core which are now worth a million or so, are sending their kids to a school on Parliament street for example, with a rough-ish neighbourhood and pretty low ratings. I hear that Order Public school is a really good school, but that seems to be about it for downtown. I also can't believe that every parent that is middle class/upper middle class just moves out of downtown when it's time for their kids to go to school. So there has to be some third option, or something that I'm missing. And let's for the sake of argument ignore COVID-19, with the obvious caveat that many more people might not need to choose between living downtown or living in the suburbs but not close to work in a year or two.

I'm asking as someone who wants to live close to work, doesn't care for ever owning a property, but has not figured out where he would send his kids to school without moving to the suburbs.
Jean Lumb, Nelson Mandela, Market Lane, water front are the public schools off top of my head in downtown amongst others

I don't understand what you're asking? If there are schools downtown?
Jr. Member
Jul 21, 2013
169 posts
80 upvotes
Toronto
What are you defining as “downtown”? Other than cityplace and the financial district can’t think of many areas that don’t have access to schools. Particularly near bloor, plenty of good schools.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jul 30, 2008
894 posts
38 upvotes
Sorry, I'm not saying there's no access to schools. I'm just saying that most of them seem to have reading/writing scores that are far below Ontario's average. And while that's not all that goes into whether a school is good or not, it's a pretty decent indicator if scores are high, as is it a decent indicator if the scores are low that it's probably not the best school in the world. For most of the downtown core, the in zone school has pretty low scores. Orde Public school seems to be an exception, and from what I hear, it's so popular that even if you get a place in that school zone, you have a good chance of your child having to go to a different school anyway due to too many kids being there (probably because lots of downtown families crammed in that zonedue to the reputation of the school).

Downtown I would define as the square of Jarvis, Carlton Street, Spadina, and Front Street. Now, the reason I'm defining it this way is because the purpose of the question is if someone working in the core can both avoid public transport commute (or having to walk for close to 30 minutes to work) and be able to live in an area where their kid is guaranteed to go to a good school. The answer may well be no.

I do realize that if you just extend it out another few kilometers in each direction, there may be some better schools. But at that point, I'm commuting again, so I might as well then just get a house and move 10-12 subway stops away.

Nelson Mandela school, for example, which Stats Guy cited above, and does have pretty large coverage for people living in the above area I mentioned, has pretty awful math/reading/writing scores.
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Dec 5, 2006
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Markham
tribe1689 wrote: Sorry, I'm not saying there's no access to schools. I'm just saying that most of them seem to have reading/writing scores that are far below Ontario's average. And while that's not all that goes into whether a school is good or not, it's a pretty decent indicator if scores are high, as is it a decent indicator if the scores are low that it's probably not the best school in the world. For most of the downtown core, the in zone school has pretty low scores. Orde Public school seems to be an exception, and from what I hear, it's so popular that even if you get a place in that school zone, you have a good chance of your child having to go to a different school anyway due to too many kids being there (probably because lots of downtown families crammed in that zonedue to the reputation of the school).

Downtown I would define as the square of Jarvis, Carlton Street, Spadina, and Front Street. Now, the reason I'm defining it this way is because the purpose of the question is if someone working in the core can both avoid public transport commute (or having to walk for close to 30 minutes to work) and be able to live in an area where their kid is guaranteed to go to a good school. The answer may well be no.

I do realize that if you just extend it out another few kilometers in each direction, there may be some better schools. But at that point, I'm commuting again, so I might as well then just get a house and move 10-12 subway stops away.

Nelson Mandela school, for example, which Stats Guy cited above, and does have pretty large coverage for people living in the above area I mentioned, has pretty awful math/reading/writing scores.
Just checked Nelson Mandela school's score, that's pretty bad. Wondering whether it's because almost 1/3 students have special need.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
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Woodbridge
tribe1689 wrote: Sorry, I'm not saying there's no access to schools. I'm just saying that most of them seem to have reading/writing scores that are far below Ontario's average. And while that's not all that goes into whether a school is good or not, it's a pretty decent indicator if scores are high, as is it a decent indicator if the scores are low that it's probably not the best school in the world. For most of the downtown core, the in zone school has pretty low scores. Orde Public school seems to be an exception, and from what I hear, it's so popular that even if you get a place in that school zone, you have a good chance of your child having to go to a different school anyway due to too many kids being there (probably because lots of downtown families crammed in that zonedue to the reputation of the school).

Downtown I would define as the square of Jarvis, Carlton Street, Spadina, and Front Street. Now, the reason I'm defining it this way is because the purpose of the question is if someone working in the core can both avoid public transport commute (or having to walk for close to 30 minutes to work) and be able to live in an area where their kid is guaranteed to go to a good school. The answer may well be no.

I do realize that if you just extend it out another few kilometers in each direction, there may be some better schools. But at that point, I'm commuting again, so I might as well then just get a house and move 10-12 subway stops away.

Nelson Mandela school, for example, which Stats Guy cited above, and does have pretty large coverage for people living in the above area I mentioned, has pretty awful math/reading/writing scores.
The scores are more of a reflection of the access that students have to resources outside of school rather than the quality of the education itself. Teachers don't look around at school rankings to decide where we go. You don't have better teachers at higher-ranked schools or vice versa. There are places in the world in which this is the case and you actually get better teachers earning more working at higher-ranked schools. That's not the case here. The biggest indicators of a child's success are socio-economic factors, the level of education of their parents and the level of education of their peers' parents. Children of educated parents with financial means will do well in low-ranked schools and children of uneducated parents that are struggling financially will struggle in high-ranked schools. Our post-secondary admission system also doesn't care what school you went to. A 96% average from the absolute "worst" public high school in the province will get you into any post-secondary program in the country. Again, this is not true everywhere, and it can be very difficult trying to help some parents understand that the education system here doesn't operate in the same way as it does back home.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jul 30, 2008
894 posts
38 upvotes
I do know about the correlation between parents' means, education levels and the child's success, but I was under the impression that the child's success would also correlate positively to the bond/friendships they form (i.e. if they are fiends with other kids whose parents are educated, of higher means, etc). I do understand that the quality of teachers should be the same, and the curriculum should be the same. It's the peer influence that I am more worried about in a lower-ranked school.

I think you may be saying something similar when you talk about the level of education of their peers' parents being one of the biggest indicators? If so, that's my primary worry about these schools, as I do understand that a school generally gets a budget per child per year, and that they're not generally funneling more money per child in certain schools and less in others.
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Dec 5, 2006
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tribe1689 wrote: I do know about the correlation between parents' means, education levels and the child's success, but I was under the impression that the child's success would also correlate positively to the bond/friendships they form (i.e. if they are fiends with other kids whose parents are educated, of higher means, etc). I do understand that the quality of teachers should be the same, and the curriculum should be the same. It's the peer influence that I am more worried about in a lower-ranked school.

I think you may be saying something similar when you talk about the level of education of their peers' parents being one of the biggest indicators? If so, that's my primary worry about these schools, as I do understand that a school generally gets a budget per child per year, and that they're not generally funneling more money per child in certain schools and less in others.
Your concern is certainly legit

You want your kids befriend with someone who have value/personality you appreciate

That's why private schools have parents interviews, so they can cut out people who are not part of their class
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
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Woodbridge
tribe1689 wrote: I do know about the correlation between parents' means, education levels and the child's success, but I was under the impression that the child's success would also correlate positively to the bond/friendships they form (i.e. if they are fiends with other kids whose parents are educated, of higher means, etc). I do understand that the quality of teachers should be the same, and the curriculum should be the same. It's the peer influence that I am more worried about in a lower-ranked school.

I think you may be saying something similar when you talk about the level of education of their peers' parents being one of the biggest indicators? If so, that's my primary worry about these schools, as I do understand that a school generally gets a budget per child per year, and that they're not generally funneling more money per child in certain schools and less in others.
The government certainly doesn't provide more money to one school over another but there are differences between schools with parent councils that are able to fundraise more than others. There are very specific rules that govern how a school council may use its funds. Funding from parents cannot be used for instructional material; however, it can be used to support extracurricular activities or for some equipment. The school I currently work at is surrounded by homes with an average value of around $2.5 million. A few years ago, I worked in a community in which I'm not convinced the entire neighbourhood combined was worth $2.5 million. Did I see some differences? Yes. Do I think that they had impacts on the students' experience? Maybe, but it's hard to say, and they certainly weren't obvious. I think that if you're worried about your children finding peers that are similar to them then you should consider that all schools have a certain distribution of kids based on these factors and that your kids will likely find peers that are similar to them, live in the same building(s) as them, play at the same community centres as them, are members of the same teams as them, and have parents that are similar to yourself.
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Jul 5, 2004
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More than schools, I've always wondered how people raise kids downtown.

It just seems to me like kids who grow up downtown wouldn't get much time to play outside. It's not as if they can just go outside and play, because there's nothing but roads all around the building. Parents can obviously take their kids to a park, but that's not convenient so probably doesn't occur daily.

Maybe it's because I live in a rural area, but I just don't know what I would do if I was in a condo with a young child. I think it would be very boring.
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Mar 10, 2003
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Shaner wrote:
Maybe it's because I live in a rural area, but I just don't know what I would do if I was in a condo with a young child. I think it would be very boring.
Yes, that's exactly why you think that. Just like I would think that living in a rural area would be boring AF, and provided limited life experiences for children growing up. Wait, I don't actually think that, because I'm not close minded. And guess where I grew up?
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Nov 13, 2013
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Shaner wrote: More than schools, I've always wondered how people raise kids downtown.

It just seems to me like kids who grow up downtown wouldn't get much time to play outside. It's not as if they can just go outside and play, because there's nothing but roads all around the building. Parents can obviously take their kids to a park, but that's not convenient so probably doesn't occur daily.

Maybe it's because I live in a rural area, but I just don't know what I would do if I was in a condo with a young child. I think it would be very boring.
Yeah we know what we know. It is not typical in Canada but in most of the world it is normal.
Most people think it would be more boring to live in a rural area. I personally think unstructured outside play without direct parental supervision is highly underrated but most people think kids being able to go to museums, theaters, etc is much more enriching. If you look at academic performance this seems to back this theory. Even if you look at an equal group like the kids of family doctors or something the kids in the city win the academic awards etc. I wonder if the reverse is true for happiness and mental illness but I don't think that has been studied.

To answer OP question. Private school is probably a popular choice. Fraser Ranking gives a good indication but is not perfect. The very low scoring schools might be best avoided but an 8 isn't necessarily better than a 6.5. Either are probably fine for most kids.
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Nov 24, 2004
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fogetmylogin wrote: Fraser Ranking gives a good indication but is not perfect.
My understanding is that for Ontario schools, the Fraser Institute rankings are just repackaged EQAO scores, with all the caveats already discussed by @OntEdTchr

I welcome correction if that's not the case.
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Dec 5, 2006
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JHW wrote: My understanding is that for Ontario schools, the Fraser Institute rankings are just repackaged EQAO scores, with all the caveats already discussed by @OntEdTchr

I welcome correction if that's not the case.
Repackage yes. But ranking gives you a good sense about school performance, mainly on students.

Similar to S&P 500
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Nov 24, 2004
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smartie wrote: Repackage yes. But ranking gives you a good sense about school performance, mainly on students.
It tells you how well the students do on those tests. Doesn't tell you how good the teachers are, how well the school is run, or how well your kid will do on the tests.

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