As our community rightly demands answers about attendance records from the leaders within Columbus City Schools, we in turn urge the city of Columbus to remember and consider the entire picture of our district, which includes many fine educators, committed families and excellent schools.

As our community rightly demands answers about attendance records from the leaders within Columbus City Schools, we in turn urge the city of Columbus to remember and consider the entire picture of our district, which includes many fine educators, committed families and excellent schools.

We are a group of parents who actively choose to support and participate in Columbus City Schools. When so many parents around the state feel trapped by their children's educational options, we recognize that we are lucky to have that choice.

But why do we choose these schools for our children? Why are we continuing to support a district when sensational headlines and community chatter encourage us to do otherwise? Here are some reasons:

* Columbus City Schools are diverse. Not one suburban school district in central Ohio has the level of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and thought diversity that we can find in this district. Our children navigate a vibrant, safe, creative multicultural world.

* Despite suggestions to the contrary, we as parents find the emphasis on values in our individual schools remains strong. In our neighborhood, for example, Dominion Middle School starts every day with an all-school town hall meeting emphasizing community. Olympian Katie Bell, a Dominion alumna, returned for the first day of school to talk to the students about her values and choices.

* Our children have a myriad of academic options. The district's resources allow talented and gifted students to explore everything from an elementary school's look at the workings of the stock market to more-advanced debate at the middle school level.

Excellent and equitable resources are available for students with physical and developmental disabilities, especially at Colerain Elementary School, our pathway school. Our middle schools and high schools offer numerous clubs, advanced classes and college courses and are continually looking for new ways to bring fresh perspectives and new approaches to our students.

* Our educators are impressive. Our principals are engaged, excited and want to do the right thing. Test scores alone don't tell the story of educators who make students fall in love with math, science and reading.

At Clinton Elementary School, Cary Williams uses technology to enhance her teaching, running her own classroom blog. Dominion Middle School science teacher Stacy Piper recently won an award from OfficeMax given to only 1,000 teachers nationwide. At Whetstone High School, English, technology and science staff and the PTA have teamed up to take the school newspaper, the Braves Messenger, and the robotics team, the Lugnuts, online for a more cutting-edge approach to education.

* Perhaps most crucially, we know strong communities are founded on strong schools. We value where we live, and we believe our children learn to value their community when they attend school side by side with their neighbors and friends. Each one of the Columbus City Schools neighborhoods is grounded by a neighborhood school, and that school in turn should be the neighborhood's lifeblood, creating civic and community pride in its residents and business owners.

We think this should be true of every school in the district. One only has to look at East High School's recent parade to see the strong bond between local school and local neighborhood.

Last year in our pathway, Indian Springs Elementary School second-graders created an exhibition for a community event in celebration of Clintonville's history, led by teacher Abby Vaile, a graduate of our pathway schools.

We acknowledge neighborhood schools are not for everyone -- and Columbus City Schools offer strong choices with alternative options such as Indianola K-8 and Ecole Kenwood French Immersion for elementary school and middle school, as well as Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center or Columbus Alternative High School for our high school students, to name only a few, all of which serve families from all over the city.

There is no denying Columbus City Schools faces a host of problems and challenges. In a world that now values metrics and results above all else, the economic challenges posed to urban school districts such as Columbus, and to the families and communities they serve, will continue to affect those districts' measurements of success in ways that are not easily or quickly remedied.

We support every effort to make our school district stronger and to ensure the ethics and values we all share are practiced every day. We agree rankings and metrics should be based on accurate data and should not be misrepresented for any purpose.

However, we also appreciate what continues to be strong in this district, and the aspects that have not changed since before news of these issues came to light, which no manipulation of data can affect. Our kids still walk into schools each day where they are loved, valued and educated well.

Those who are concerned about test scores and attendance issues in our district should get involved. Get in on the ground floor of your neighborhood schools that are doing great things for children and help focus on alleviating the effects of poverty.

Schools cannot do it quickly, and they cannot do it alone. The more we choose to bring our resources, time, talents and, yes, our children to this district, the more we strengthen the whole community.

Members of the Clintonville Go Public board are Karina Brown, Gus Dahlberg, Tiffany Grinstead, Laura Kraus and Mary Pajor.