Who’ll go first to not-yet-gentrified school?

Affluent, educated families are gentrifying the urban neighborhood, but none send their children to the local public school, which has below-average test scores and a shabby appearance. Who will be the first? asks Katie Granju, whose daughter will be ready for kindergarten next year.

. . . how can my neighborhood’s schools ever get any better if those of us who keep moving into this zip code because we say want to stake our roots here, and raise our kids here keep outsourcing the educational part of our adopted neighborhood’s appeal?

. . . But I also don’t want my child to be the exclamation point for my progressive political views. If we “go first,” what will that mean for her? How long would it take for other neighbors to follow?

Other NPR-sticker-sporting parents transfer their kids to public schools in “nicer” neighborhoods, vie for a spot at a magnet school not too far away or pay for private school.  Granju and her husband are exploring the options — including the neighborhood school that the non-NPR children attend.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Odd…I was just thinking about this as it has been a topic in my city…also, watching the stock market drop this morning…what will happen when more private school parents send kids to the public schools…will they chose neighborhood schools or vie for the options…

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    “will they chose neighborhood schools or vie for the options…”

    They’ll do whatever is in their best interest. Those that we’re previously against school choice, charters, vouchers will have conversions. They’ll out maneuver the less socially adept neighbors to secure spots for their progeny in the better educational options.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Keep in mind that “diversity” can mean a lot of different things. It can be a bunch of Asian technerd wannabes, or a bunch of kids from the Philadelphia ‘hood.
    Granju is just…just getting to the point of wondering if she should make her kid walk point in the culture wars–so Granju can feel good about herself. I’d guess she has thought about reproaching parents who don’t. Until it’s her kid.

  4. It’s kind of fun to read about the tension between the self-obsession of the typical leftie – driving the right car, living in the right house, displaying the right attitude toward the right issues – and the rather more basic and limited issues that go into picking a school. Probably Tom Lehrer’s “Nation Brotherhood Week” would be lost on our gentrifier.

  5. Obi-Wandreas says:

    Dropping a few kids with supportive homes into the mix is not going to do anything other than damage those kids. They will be severely outnumbered by those who have never been taught how not to act like barbarians.

    Far more effective could be to sprinkle a few of the kids from rough backgrounds into the mix of those who know how to behave themselves. In some cases this has a very positive effect on those students; many simply need a different environment in which to blossom. Others, however, are simply going to continue to act out. Those cases will require a more structured, intensive environment.

    In any case, there is no substitute for a good home life with loving, supportive parents. Until we fix the problem of multiple generations of broken homes, of children being born to people who feel no sense of responsibility to anything other than their own pleasure, none of this will mean all that much.

    The primary problems are outside of the purview of schools. We do everything we can. But we should understand what we can’t.

  6. We did this and regretted it. says:

    With good intentions and a love of diversity, we moved into an inner city neighborhood and tried to get involved and get our child educated. Then my husband took a job transfer to a suburb of another big city 250 miles away. We love suburban life although we would have never considered it before our time in the inner city.

    What did we get from our inner city experiment? A house we can’t sell, a child who was bullied in that area in a variety of schools and day cares, a feeling that we never really fit it, and more negative feelings about economic and ethnic diversity than we started with.

    • Human biodiversity is real says:

      What did we get from our inner city experiment? A house we can’t sell, a child who was bullied in that area in a variety of schools and day cares, a feeling that we never really fit it, and more negative feelings about economic and ethnic diversity than we started with.

      There are some facts (“hate facts”) that PC society treats as taboo:
      1) The races have different levels of intellectual gifts. In descending order, the list goes roughly Ashkenazi, E. Asian, European, Hispanic/Mestizo, African.
      2) Minorities in America are both racist and hostile to other races.

      If you came out of the experience willing to treat “The Bell Curve” as real scholarship, you made it to what appears to be reality. If not, you have a ways to go yet.

      • Minorities in America are both racist and hostile to other races.

        Libtards would say that the racism and hostility is a natural outgrowth of their lack of political power. Remember. In the new America, only white people can be racist.

    • Aside from asking why any white person would love diversity, since diversity is code for “non-white” (Okay. Self-loathing comes to mind), is your love for diversity still intact?

  7. This article is also discussed on the Kitchen Table Math website – link is on this site -I commented there on the Obi-W suggestion to move some “rough” kids to schools where most kids know how to behave. Montgomery County, MD has had a socioeconomic diversity program for decades; I mentioned some of the downsides.

    Having lived in the DC area, I’ve seen this type in action for decades. I’ve always loved the “Love animals, don’t eat them” bumper stickers (along with the left political ones and the green ones) on BMWs with leather seats, with the driver carrying a big leather purse. Yes, some of them did make their kid walk point, but it didn’t last long; Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day looked better by the second.

  8. This article smacks of the old-timey “white man’s burden” business. Sorry, I thought the entire article smacked of elitism and racism, with classy little sprinklings of “we love diversity!” included just for the irony, prehaps.

    Mind you, I sure wouldn’t send my kid to school in the ‘hood, but I wouldn’t feel the need to write a whole article justifying myself for that (seemingly obvious) choice. What the other parents do is their business and has nothing to do with anything… why does she even care?

  9. Richard Aubrey says:

    Happy.
    The problem for Granju is that she thought other people should be doing that. She thought mean thoughts of those who didn’t, those who saw reality because the question was what part of reality to put their kid into.
    Now, she’s facing reality and all those mean thoughts she laid on others are bothering her.
    IOW, she’s trying not to be a hypocrite, but to not be a hypocrite, she has to put her kid into a submarginal situation.
    Even a liberal will think twice about that. Well, some of them. Maybe a few.

  10. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Hypocrisy gets a bad rap. I find it hard to get through the day without a good dose of hypocrisy.

    Obsession with hypocrisy is, essentially, adolescent. That a person fails to live up to their ideals does not in any way make their ideals any less (or more) worthy.

    She should embrace the hypocrisy, if there’s really any there. (It’s not clear to me that there really is; hypocrisy isn’t the same as changing one’s mind.)

  11. Well, this has been a theme throughout my entire 25 kid-years as a San Francisco public school parent. Parents for Public Schools-San Francisco, http://www.ppssf.org, started up in 1999 to address this issue.

    I wish our schools had a dollar for every parent who has said, “I don’t want my child to be the only white kid in the class,” not to mention “I’m not sacrificing MY child just to be PC” (I really may slap the next person who says that to me — of course, they’re telling me that I’m sacrificing my kids). That should be the official motto of some of our supposedly progressive private schools.

    The good news is that many, many of our San Francisco public schools HAVE become far more diverse, and a long and growing list are now viewed as acceptable and desirable by educated middle-class parents. That’s compared to the view back when we first started in 1996, when it was “there are only 5 good schools in SFUSD, and if you can’t get into one of them, you have to go private or move.”

    Parents for Public Schools (to which I’ve belonged since the beginning, and for which I’ve volunteered for many years) organized parents so they didn’t have to feel like “the first” — yes, I agree with Happy Elf Mom that that view is racist and elitist, like the people who were already there are chopped liver; no one counts until us educated white parents come marching in. That said, the reality is that schools are stronger when parents with resources send their kids there.

    In answer to the question hanging in the air — we got our kids into one of the “only 5 good schools” for elementary (that’s a little apocryphal — the number perceived by the middle class as “good” was a little larger than 5, but not that much). But then for middle school we were among “the first” in a group of middle-class families sending our kids to a formerly “dirty, dangerous ghetto school” — it was a really good experience. And it’s now a coveted trophy school. We’re among the families who are given some credit for that. (My kids then attend/ed a public arts audition high school, entirely because their middle school had turned them both into serious musicians.)

    • “‘I’m not sacrificing MY child just to be PC’ (I really may slap the next person who says that to me — of course, they’re telling me that I’m sacrificing my kids).”

      That’s because you are so blinded by ideology that you’re unwilling to face the reality that your children are *NOT* getting as good an education as they could be getting at a top private or suburban public school.

      I’m not going to put my children into my under-performing neighborhood school out of a sense of noblesse oblige. I do realize that I am fortunate enough to have a choice about that. This is why I strongly support having the funding follow the child to be used at the school of the family’s choice- whether that’s a traditional public, charter, private, or an independent study program.

      • Well, Crimson Wife, there’s an upside to standardized testing, and that’s that I do have test scores to show how my kids are doing — California Standards Tests, SAT and ACT scores. So actually, the numbers show that you’re wrong. I’ll pit my kids’ scores against yours if you like.

        It also happens that due to its nature, my kids’ high school attracts many kids from private K-8s (because there are no private arts high schools like it in our area). I’m in my 7th year as an involved parent there (2 kids with 1 year of overlap), and I know that there’s no discernable overall difference between the preparation and academic strength of kids coming in from private K-8s and SFUSD K-8s. There are public and private school kids who are stellar achievers, medium, low achievers, smart but disaffected — all categories.

        When my son took the PSAT in junior year, it was announced that three kids in the school tied for the top score, and because I knew them all, I know that all of them had come from public K-8 — two SFUSD, one Pacifica.

        I know that families choose private for many reasons, but if they just plain think that for their $25k/year or whatever their kids are going to come out smarter, as Crimson Wife’s smugly superior attitude indicates — wrong. Waste of money.

        • I have STAR test scores (our virtual charter requires them) and also talent search scores, but those reflect my DD’s IQ more than anything else. I could lock her in a closet for a year and she’d still test well on the STAR. That doesn’t mean she’d have gotten a good education sitting there in the closet.

        • Oh, spare me with your self-important bragging, will you? Scantron test scores have a limited value at best. What this country needs more than little Einsteins is good, moral, virtuous people. Any parent that has raised a child to be a shining light in today’s sex-saturated, acquisitive and decadent social milieu is, IMHO, a success. Frankly, I don’t see too much of that happening on the “progressive” side of the political spectrum.

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    Michael.
    I think Granju’s ideals aren’t that worthy, anyway. As the original desegregation went, it could be said, said some blacks, that black kids learn better sitting next to whites. I don’t know who wants to go there….
    The difference in resources was clear and huge. But it’s probably easier to even out resources than bus kids a good many miles. The fuel costs are the least of the issues.
    Caroline. The school you talk about is a good one. Problem is, most of the time, the choice of “diverse” schools isn’t that fortunate. In our area, before we moved, the only diverse schools were underperforming and crime-ridden. The one in our league, that I knew most about, had, it turned out, the highest admin and school board travel budget per kid in the three county area. Visiting football teams escorted their cheerleaders on and off the field in a hollow square. Didn’t think I’d ever see that. That used to be Infantry defense against cavalry.
    Philadelphia has schools that are so diverse that one group of diverses went on strike in order to get the admin, from another group of diverses, to do something about a bunch of kids, from the same group of diverses as the admin, regularly beating the hell out of them. Lots to learn there not in a textbook, by golly.
    That said, it would be silly to pony up $25k to get what could be gotten for your already-collected tax dollars. Point is, some people don’t have that choice.
    And Granju is facing the prospect of actually doing what the NPR folks have said is the Right Thing for the Right Sort of People to do, and finding it has a cost, which will be borne by her daughter. For a liberal, that’s a toughie.

    • I don’t think it’s that simple, Richard, though thank you for the praise of their high school — as a parent volunteer, I do feel a sense of ownership.

      However, it’s not that my kids were getting a crappy education in K-8 and were suddenly uplifted by an unusually good high school. In fact, my son took the SAT in 7th grade through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth — while attending the “ghetto” middle school full of (cover your ears, Crimson Wife; this will horrify you) black and Latino classmates — and did very well.

      I’ve given this explanation here before, so forgive me for repeating myself. A school that serves a critical mass of very challenged, high-need, disadvantaged students becomes overwhelmed and struggles — these are the schools we cruelly brand “failing schools.” A school that serves a number of very challenged, high-need, disadvantaged students that falls short of that critical mass can function. The percentage that reaches critical mass may vary depending on other strengths and weaknesses of the school.

      So I agree that an aware parent would not want his or her kids in a school that was overwhelmed by the needs and challenges of very disadvantaged kids. But an aware parent with an open mind — one who was not simply blinded by elitism, racism and status-seeking, whether or not he or she postured as politically progressive — might check out a diverse urban public school carefully with that situation in mind.

      • Got it. It’s the “critical mass of very challenged, high-need, disadvantaged students” that’s the reason a school sucks.

        Now that you’ve got your excuse for crappy schools, what do you propose be done with that “critical mass of very challenged, high-need, disadvantaged students”? Or have they served their purpose by providing you a transparently self-serving excuse for crappy schools?

        • Yes, Allen, that is the case. The “critical mass…” is indeed the reason a school “sucks.” That goes for high-poverty public schools and high-poverty charter schools. There aren’t many high-poverty private schools — the Catholic church has run them in the past but has been shutting them down because, guess what, they “suck” (intractably).

          Since the reformistas have been making “excuses” for THEIR low-performing schools, after blustering “no excuses, no excuses” for years, you should be aiming your bombast at them as well.

          • Oh, I think my bombast is best aimed at organizations which combine an indifference to the damage they do to poor children with mandating the attendance of those poor children. It’s the sort of relationship that isn’t just inherently abusive but rewards abusiveness.

            It’s also kind of fun to push you into the sort of duplicitous responses necessary to defend such organizations.

            Makes it clear that your compassion for those poor kids extends only so far as does their utility in defense of the status quo. That’s why us “reformistas” count among our ranks the parents of those poor kids who while they may not use the word “duplicitous” can identify the odor that accompanies your excuses.

      • “In fact, my son took the SAT in 7th grade through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth — while attending the “ghetto” middle school full of (cover your ears, Crimson Wife; this will horrify you) black and Latino classmates — and did very well.”

        So? That just means your son has a high IQ.

        My uncle went to Exeter while my mom fell victim to a sexist attitude on the part of my grandparents that deemed a prep school education a worthwhile investment for a son but not a daughter. My grandparents never even considered any of the elite co-ed or girls’ prep schools for my mom, so she attended the mediocre public high school in her town.

        My uncle and my mom got virtually identical SAT scores because they’re equally bright. That doesn’t mean that my uncle did not receive a far superior high school education.

        • So high test scores don’t indicate a good education? Even critics of testing would usually disagree with that. The SAT is not an IQ test — doing well requires a solid base of knowledge and a pretty solid education. I’m sure your uncle made lots of good connections at Exeter, but in terms of his education, if he and your mother did equally well on the SAT, I’d question whether the money your grandparents shelled out was worth it or whether the public high school she attended was really that mediocre. (Who in the world actually knows if his/her parents took the SAT or how they did? This whole anecdote seems pretty dubious to me to begin with.)

          Meanwhile, it seems a little out of bounds to disparage my kids’ education and my judgment as a parent without knowing a thing about it.

          • Deirdre Mundy says:

            Actually, no, the SAT tracks pretty closely with IQ, which is why it was originally seen as an egalitarian tool— poor jewish kids from the tenemants who went to crummy public schools could compete with the preppy wasps for places at the Ivies.

            And given that the math tops out at about algebra (with a few really basic geometry facts thrown in) and that the Verbal section is far shy of even AP, SAT scores are a lousy way to tell if someone has received and excellent education.

            In fact, that’s also why the CTY talent search exists– because the SAT helps you find the smart kids who’ve been trapped in lousy schools with no chance to learn anything interesting…..

          • “Who in the world actually knows if his/her parents took the SAT or how they did?

            Obviously you’ve never met my family. Get a bunch of over-educated Type A individuals (I’m the least educated of the bunch because I “only” have my bachelor’s) together and sooner or later they’ll start the academic one-upsmanship. The reason I think it’s IQ and not education is that all the scores cluster in a very narrow range (within the margin of error) despite attending quite different schools often decades apart.

          • There’s a discussion brewing over at Megan McArdle’s on whether or not SAT scores are a good metric for measuring whether the selective public schools in NYC are providing value-added.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/08/do-expensive-exclusive-schools-make-a-difference/243784/

            I’ll pull a few thoughts from there and a few of my own (I was an early SAT prep baby and did the CTY testing–best 7th grade verbal SAT in WA state–woohoo!). My dad did my SAT prepping before prepping was cool.

            1. The SAT does not cover advanced material. It measures whether or not students have a good vocabulary and an iron grip on the first couple years of high school math. In math, if you’ve got solid early algebra, have mastered some classic math problems (rate, work problems, etc.) and a bit of basic geometry, you’re good to go. If you get really good and really fast at those simple problems (and as my dad says, there are only so many good problems), you’ll shine. So, I can believe the SAT would be quite kind to Crimson Wife’s mom, even though she went to a so-so school.

            2. The downside of the low level of the SAT is that it isn’t very good at measuring differences between students at the high end. As a test, it has a low ceiling. If you’re just screening for a gifted program, that’s not a problem, but if you’re trying to distinguish between high-scoring kids, it’s less helpful.

            Off topic, but the MM thread has some good critiques of the method of evaluating gifted programs where they compare kids who just barely got in to kids who just barely didn’t get in. This is a very poor tool for measuring performance of gifted programs, since in the literature, the most gifted children are very different from the borderline and arguably benefit most from a different academic environment.

      • The SAT does not discriminate well at the top end. In addition to its use for the Hopkins CTY program, it is used as part of the application process for a number of gifted HS magnet schools and those 8-th graders who are offered entry are likely to have scores that would be outstanding for HS seniors. I know one 8th-grader who scored in the high 700s on both math and verbal; his perfect score as a junior said little about the quality of his HS education. In fact, it was excellent because he attended the gifted magnet, but the SAT score was incapable of reflecting that. That is exactly the reason so many parents would like better options for their kids; the fact that they do well indicates inteligence but they may well have never been challenged – particularly in today’s typical heterogeneous classroom. Advantaged kindergarteners are likely to be at least a year ahead of their disadvantaged agemates; what is the likelihood that they will be challenged?

  13. Poor, poor conflicted NPR sticker-sporting parents. The facts of life are conservative, Ms. Granju.

  14. Mark Roulo says:

    “As the original desegregation went, it could be said, said some blacks, that black kids learn better sitting next to whites. I don’t know who wants to go there….

    The difference in resources was clear and huge. But it’s probably easier to even out resources than bus kids a good many miles. The fuel costs are the least of the issues.

    I missed out on forced busing, but wasn’t a large part of the point that resources *WEREN’T* evening out? The courts figured that mingling the kids together would make it harder for the resources to not be allocated evenly. The point being that blacks sitting next to whites wouldn’t magically cause the black test scores to rise, but that blacks sitting in the same classroom as whites *would* make the resources spent on each black student roughly match the resources spent on each white student.

    No?

    • If my memory serves, Coleman’s study– that led to busing– found that the resources between the black and white schools were pretty much the same.

  15. Katie Granju was already an idiot for a thousand reasons. Now it’s a thousand and one.

    Oh, and…

    No?

    No.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mark.
    Problem with having forced busing–which is not all there is to desegregation–was that the parents of the kids from far away did not vote in the receiving school board elections. Not to mention the logistics of trying to make a difference are more difficult with distance. Not an overwhelming problem, but not invisible, either.
    Desegregrating schools which were, in effect, side by side, made a difference. But the schools were not, in fact, side by side because the neighborhoods themselves were segregated. So, depending on the size of the district, kids had to come from some distance, black to white or white to black.
    I did some civil rights stuff in MS in the Sixties and tried to follow what happened thereafter, although being in the Army took some time. My impression was that courts were particularly vigilant about resources, whether there were mixed schools or not.

  17. Cranberry says:

    You’re all having a fine time arguing over suppostions which don’t match the facts. In some of her responses, Katie Granju stated the neighborhood is in fact, not racially diverse. It’s educationally, socially and economically diverse.

  18. The SAT was CREATED as a tool for promoting a meritocracy, D. Mundy.

    But in fact discussion throughout the ed world has used SAT scores as a measure of the effectiveness of schools, so you reformy types are changing your story in now claiming it has nothing to do with the effectiveness of schools and is all about pure inborn intelligence. Sorry, but you’re not getting away with changing the story. Once again, I call BS.

    • SAT is a poor measure of school effectiveness because only college-bound students take the SAT and because it’s not linked to the curriculum. The “education world” knows this very well. Accountability advocates push for all students to take the same curriculum-linked exams to provide reliable data. (And, of course, school effectiveness can’t be judged without analyzing value-added since students start out in different places.)

      • Yes, Joanne, but if you compare the SAT scores of students at two schools at which a similar percentage take the SAT and see a significant difference in the average SAT, that tells you something. This is not one of your finer “gotcha!” moments.

        The reformy world changes its story depending on what point it’s trying to make., as we see here. The fact is, education commentators frequently use a school’s SAT scores as a marker of school quality.

        • You write: “The fact is, education commentators frequently use a school’s SAT scores as a marker of school quality.”

          No, they don’t.

          I can’t recall ever seeing education commentators –reformers or not — use school-level SATs to compare the quality of different schools.

          I’ve been writing about education for 36 years now. I have an excellent memory.

          Commentators — reformers and status quo defenders — do cite the percentage of high school graduates who go on to college as a marker of quality. I agree this can be misleading without information on how many graduates earn a degree or certificate in a reasonable period of time.

          BTW, I don’t strive for “gotcha” moments. I believe I’m more likely to persuade others of my point of view if I make my case fairly and courteously.

  19. Bill Leonard says:

    No, Richard Aubrey, that was not all the problem with forced busing.

    The real problem with forced busing was that Teddy Kennedy and others of his ilk at the state and local level who supported the concept and made the decisions knew damned well that their kids would never have to attend, or be bused to, public schools.

    Gee, isn’ it great to legislate for the masses, for their own good and in spite of what they might want or have to say? Sounds just like most of the criminals in Congress and the empty suit in the White House as I write this.

  20. “But in fact discussion throughout the ed world has used SAT scores as a measure of the effectiveness of schools, so you reformy types are changing your story in now claiming it has nothing to do with the effectiveness of schools and is all about pure inborn intelligence.”

    Nothing is pure, inborn intelligence, but the SAT is not a bad test of 1) pure, inborn intelligence and 2) freshman and sophomore high school math skill and 3) vocabulary. The test will tell you something about the effectiveness of the local math program (although outside coaching is a complicating issue).

  21. Richard Aubrey says:

    Bill. Yeah, that’s how it goes. Years ago, when Yonkers was fighting imposed public low-income housing, it turned out that all the advocates for it, who accused the opponents of racism, themselves lived in the lily-white, sometimes gated communities.
    Cranberry. Granju is concerned about something. Racial diversity was raised because the discussion got to the subject in general. But, in Granju’s case, there must be something giving her second thoughts. Whatever it is, her commitment to diversity as a good–without actually explaining why it’s a good–conflicts with her concern about the school.
    Whether it’s a matter of race, or just a lousy school, or unacceptable levels of, say, bullying, or near a couple of low-down bars, or the diverses are fighting each other, while most of us wouldn’t hesitate for an instant, she’s tied up by her commitment to [other people doing it] diversity.
    Not all, but enough people who praise diversity explicitly or implicitly reproach those who don’t want to actually put their families into it. So when we hear somebody like Granju carrying on, we hear that, even if she doesn’t say it. Probably meant it, though.
    Now that it applies to her, she’s facing something she always figured would be a burden for somebody else’s kid and nothing for her to worry about.

  22. This thread could stand to be a lot more fine-grained. Caroline SF is not talking about putting her children in a school where they are the only white, or only middle class children; she’s talking about finding a school that is academically (and in her case musically) good, and at the same time is not limited to the children of already-successful parents. Many, many people make this choice. Many others end up in schools like this because they can afford to live in an inner ring suburb but not an outer one. And let’s not forget rural schools: they accomodate plenty of very poor children along with the middle class ones, and I’m here to tell you that there is plenty of dysfunction in some of those rural families.

    Some of the posters above are operating in a world where finding high-performing classmates for their children is the only goal. I can understand this; you do want your kids to be surrounded by “good” examples. But people, it does not hav to be 100%. And your kids may learn from classmates who don’t score super-high on tests. I don’t mean that in a gooey, Kumbaya way. There really are worthwhile things to learn in a diverse (economically, ethnically, religion-wise) school.

    • “your kids may learn from classmates who don’t score super-high on tests.”

      Unfortunately, it’s been my personal experience that a bright kid stuck in a heterogeneous class with a too-slow pace and a lack of intellectual challenge runs a very real risk of winding up resenting his/her classmates. BTDT and it’s not something I’m proud of as an adult. I realize now that it wasn’t fair of me to blame my classmates for my being bored out of my mind, but that’s how I felt at the time. And that’s not something I want for my kids.

    • Regarding rural schools I don’t think anyone would doubt there is dysfunctional families in more rural schools.

      My husband(well more my husband) thought about moving to the rural, fairly isolated community where he grew up. I was always against the idea, but now I wonder if I would have preferred a school district that was so small it couldn’t accomadate the layers and layers of lack of accountability our current school district seems to have.

  23. . . . and to add to and sum up my comment above: some of the posters above are throwing out pronouncements that indicate not just an assumption that all minority or less-than-middle class children behave badly and are a drag on a school academically. There’s an added assumption that the answer for middle class parents is to flee. My children attended a K-8 that was 40% minority and economically mixed. I freely admit that there were some challenges. But there were also huge benefits, and their test scores were fine.

  24. . . . and finally, the more minority and/or low-income children who go to schools with a middle class presence or even majority, the fewer there will be who are raised in racial or economic isolation. Can’t we agree that, as long as the school teaches all its kids, that is a good thing?

    • I don’t believe that the purpose of schools is “social justice”. I believe it’s helping each child maximize his/her intellectual potential and become an economically productive member of society.

      Would I prefer for my child to attend a school that offers racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity? Of course- so long as that doesn’t get in the way of offering rigorous academics and a safe learning environment. I just don’t think diversity has a higher priority than overall quality of the school.

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    BB.
    Some schools can be mixed and work out fine. That’s a matter of social homogeneity. IOW, whatever the race, as long as nobody insults or assaults the teachers, we’re getting someplace. As long as nobody assaults my kids, ditto.
    When my kids were growing up, there were no such schools within half an hour’s drive of our home. Most schools outside the city were mixed, to a very minor extent, and the kids who were not white were middle-class in social origin and attitudes.
    When the public housing went into our system, the black kids who’d arrived at our HS in the conventional manner were not getting down with the black kids from the project. Opposite sides. However, the kids from the project would occasionally deploy “don’t act white” and even the middle class black kids were beginning to be affected.
    To give one example, the city schools changed some of their bussing to use the metro system which had some of the kids coming to a downtown bus station to change busses. The mayor and the cops reproached themselves for not being prepared for the fighting which they should have anticipated. Nobody went around saying,, “Fighting! Who would have thought? What is this world coming to?” Instead, they got a police presence, substation iirc, put together asap. In fact, nobody reproached anybody for not pretending to be surprised by the fighting.
    I’m not defining deviancy down where my kids’ being assaulted is a “challenge”. It’s an outrage and I’m not about to put my liberal attitudes, if I had any, ahead of my kids’ freedom from being assaulted.
    Or having a lousy education because, as one city MS math teacher told me, he could only test on what he taught in class because nobody did the homework. And if he expected the kids to know what they learned on their math homework, he’d have to flunk so many of them it would not be accepted. So, if a good student were in that class, he’d only be exposed to the least of the least of eighth grade math. Even if there were no other distracting factors.
    To be finegrained: Sometimes it can work and sometimes it doesn’t. If the latter case, what are we required by society and morality to do about sending our kids there?

    • I’m just saying that it can work, that it works more often than some of these posters are assuming, and that it’s a good thing when it does. I am not at all saying that parents should be expected to send their kids to dangerous schools. And may I add that there is plenty of aggression and bad behavior in suburban high schools.

  26. My kids attend/attended a school that is about 60+% minority children. People in our ultra liberal community have huge stereotypes about the more diverse schools.

    Our takeaway experience is that school administrators ,school board members, one principal, and several teachers feel almost no accountability to the families that send their kids to more diverse schools.

  27. Richard Aubrey says:

    Kate
    I’d expect it would depend on which of the diverses the concerned parents come from.
    See Philadelphia and the regular beatings of the Asian kids.

  28. Richard…I’m not sure what you mean by that. I’m not sure what that has to do with school board members that simply won’t acknowledge issues that families from more diverse schools are concerned with.

    We had a principal at our school that virtually trashed the school with her ineptitude…..you couldn’t even get a reply back from school board members.

  29. I doubt Granju’s neighborhood is anywhere near as rough as some of the inner-city schools found in major metropolitan areas like Philly, NYC, Chicago, etc. You might find one or two cars with NPR stickers on them, but they’re missing their stereos and wheels.

    A local urban school district is pretty diverse (racially, economically, culturally, etc.), and has a strong crop of higher-performing students who routinely go to selective colleges. The problem/solution (depending on your viewpoint)? The district effectively isolates those students from the rest of the population with a ‘house’ system. Each house, despite being in the same building, has its own set of core subject teachers and designated section of the building. Hall monitors are stationed at the boundaries of the various houses. In the same day you can have a group of students prepping for IB and AP tests at one end of the school while at the other police are questioning students about a stabbing that occurred that morning in homeroom.

    My take on Granju’s post is that her neighbors *only* make $30,000-50,000 a year and that she’s scared that her darling will be corrupted by their children. Quite a far cry from the ills of the district near me, and even farther from those in blighted urban areas.

  30. Richard Aubrey says:

    Kate.
    In the referenced Philly situation, the admin and one group of students–that was beating the hell out of the Asian students–were from the same diverse. The admin’s response was absolutely crickets. Thus my point that a parent who is not from the same diverse as the admin might be wasting time complaining about anything from poor curriculum to sexual assault on a daughter.
    Or might not. But if the complaining parent is from a distance that precludes even voting in the school board election as well as being of a different diverse, there’s even less chance of any change.

    Super makes the point that something is bothering Granju about the local system, to the extent she’s thinking of abandoning the principles she tried to impose on the rest of us to keep her kid from whatever it is that bothers her. If there were nothing wrong, in her view, with the local system, she wouldn’t have started this conversation.