Almost every single day I am asked by prospective home buyers who are considering moving to the area “how are the schools in South Orange and Maplewood?” Although it is phrased like a question, it feels more like a negative accusation. Its as if they have unequivocal proof that the schools are terrible and they wonder why I am recommending they consider these communities at all.
As a real estate agent I must obey the real estate laws and therefore I am not aloud to voice an opinion about the schools here or anywhere else. All I can do is lead those inquiring to a third party website or article to see the rankings for themselves.
Unfortunately, the rankings do not measure students on a very three dimensional basis and therefor, in many instances, the South Orange/Maplewood district (SOMA) doesn’t rank as high as it should. For instance, the district was recently named one of the Best Communities in Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). None of the rankings ever rank this critical dimension of education.
However, today there is amazing news from the halls at Columbia High School in Maplewood that deserves celebration. Twelve students from the senior class received perfect scores on their SAT’s. Perfect scores? Yes as in 800 out of 800 in a variety of subjects.
In no way does this mean the South Orange/Maplewood school district is any better than it was yesterday or the day before. It simply means that all districts reflect the communities they serve and South Orange/Maplewood gets penalized for serving a very diverse one.
These perfect scores reinforce something residents know to be true — the kids at the top in South Orange/Maplewood are as well educated as the top kids from any other New Jersey district. The big difference is South Orange/Maplewood’s student body is inclusive of kids from all backgrounds –socially, economically and racially– and that is something we value in our 2 communities, something we think is as (or more) important as test scores.