Realtors Must Stop “Playing Dumb” on School Quality

Zipped LipsAsk the average guy on the street about the quality of schools in the District of Columbia, and he’ll tell you that it’s not too good.

Ask the President of the United States about whether the quality of D.C. schools is comparable to those of certain private schools and (on the Today Show and reported in the Washington Post) he’ll say:

“I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no, right now,” Obama said. D.C. public schools “are struggling,” he said, but they “have made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform. There are some terrific individual schools in the D.C. system.”

Ask a Realtor about public schools in D.C. or elsewhere, and you’ll hear: “Well, umm. I really can’t say. I’m not permitted to say. So I really can’t help you. Sorry. But I encourage you to check online. And talk to some parents of kids who go to the school. Try calling the PTA. Or talk to the school principal.”


I acknowledge that a school that’s great for some kids may be terrible for others. I’ve written about that before from personal experience. My son attended an elementary school with a great reputation. But it was absolutely a horrible experience for him. And I’m not picking on D.C. schools. There are plenty of other examples, good and bad, out there. So it’s true that you can’t accurately sum up an entire school with a grade of “A” or “F.”

Still, there’s a growing focus on the quality of education in the United States, and how it compares to that in other countries. There’s the movie Waiting for Superman, which is attracting a huge amount of interest and focusing laster-like attention on our educational system.

Ignoring realities doesn’t help buyers. Refusing to share expertise and perspective on quality of school doesn’t help buyers. From the Preamble to the Realtor Code of Ethics:

Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. . . .They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment. Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which REALTORS® should dedicate themselves.

Are these goals–creation of adequate housing, development of productive industries, preservation of a healthful environment–possible if, in our professional roles, we deliberately ignore educational successes and failures? If we ignore reality? If we deliberately withhold information from clients and customers?

I think not.


One Response to Realtors Must Stop “Playing Dumb” on School Quality

  1. Laura Roskelly says:

    I agree with you 100%. Our inability too share information that we know on schools is frustrating to say the least. However, all licensed Realtors have to operate under the terms of the Fair Housing Act and that is what restricts our ability to share information.

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