Why does Sharon Dattoli decide where your kids go to school?

Victor Joecks

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that an individual you’ve never met, who doesn’t even know your child’s name – let alone his or her hopes, dreams or ambitions – decides where your child goes to school if you live in Clark County?

Sharon Dattoli is the zoning and demographics director for the Clark County School District, and it’s her job to redraw school district lines each year “to prevent crowding and maintain diversity.”

What tools does Dattoli use to accomplish her goals?

Until two years ago we used data from the DMV. But that doesn’t tell us when people leave. The birth rate is a more important factor. The 2004 number helps us estimate how many kindergartners we can expect in September.

Think about that. The mating habits of your neighbors have a bigger impact on where your child goes to school than anything you as a parent can do, aside from moving or pulling your kid out of the public school system altogether.

This isn’t an attack on Sharon Dattoli. She’s doing her best to accomplish her goals – prevent crowding and maintain diversity. To achieve those goals, she must view your child as a number and a demographic statistic. As a parent, is that how you want your child viewed?

As you know, your child – and every child – is much more than a statistic. Children are individuals with unique personalities, special talents and different goals from any other child. And as a parent, you’ve invested hundreds of hours of your life raising them, providing for their needs (and some wants) and preparing them to learn.

And the decision about where your child will attend school, where your child will spend hundreds of hours every year, is based more on your neighbors’ mating habits than on what would be best for your child.

Why do parents tolerate a system like this? Especially since there is a better, cheaper way that has proven itself around the country.

A way where Sharon Dattoli doesn’t choose your kid’s school based on your child’s statistical value or your neighbors’ fertility.

A way where parents choose the school their child attends based on what the school offers and how that matches their child’s unique needs.

Isn’t that a way we could all support?