I have lived in Oak Park for 21 years. I love the community and have lived here longer than anywhere else in my life. Additionally, I am and have been in the real estate lending industry for roughly 20 years. The reality not being addressed with the OPRF freshman curriculum change is that this will impact real estate choices prospective buyers make.
Schools and the school system’s impact on a child’s future is a major decision point along with taxes, safety and amenities/lifestyle. We pay immensely high taxes in Oak Park and, to some degree, live with crime issues less prevalent in other suburbs, but people still move here. This can be attributed to certain amenities that Oak Park provides, but it is definitely anchored by the schools.
This curriculum change represents a possible blow to this all-important aspect of a buyer’s decision process. Many people are open to new things, but most people will not gamble with their children’s future. They will make decisions based on the best opportunity to give their children a better life. Whether a perceived or actual difference, they will avoid uncertainty, especially when they would have to pay a premium to get it, i.e. exorbitant taxes.
It is my assertion that you will see two things as a result of this. First, you will see a decrease in people choosing to move to Oak Park and River Forest. There are plenty of other suburbs with nearly the same amenities and geographical proximity that will meet their needs without a perceived disadvantage for their kids. Secondly, you will see current residents evaluating and making decisions regarding whether or not to stay in Oak Park and River Forest based on the aforementioned criteria as their children near ninth grade.
I would be disingenuous if the thought had not occurred to me to synthesize an exit strategy and transition plan as my own children reach a point of no return where moving would be overly disruptive. This may sound irrational, selfish, alarmist, et al, but the reality is that I do not want to explain to my child that I could have made a choice that would have improved their chances to attend a certain college when and if they do not get in. I do not think that I am alone.