The Privilege of School Choice: When given the chance, will wealthy parents ever choose to desegregate schools? Worth the read here from Patrick Wall! Article about rezoning in NYC and the deep, deep, deep ‘good/bad’ school stories…
Here’s a nice chunk on race and choice… “Racial anxieties coursed through the debate, often just below the surface. White and Asian parents who opposed the rezoning often began their public comments by praising diversity and stating that race played no part in their resistance to 191. (In surveys, it’s common for whites to downplay the importance of race in choosing schools, even as studies find it’s a top consideration in their actual decision-making.) Yet outside the hearings, racially tinged rumors about 191 circulated among some parents. A woman whose child attends a predominantly white school in the area and asked not to be named said she’d been told that some students serve as drug mules for local dealers; another woman who asked not to be named told me she’d heard that an older student had pulled a knife on a pre-kindergartener. (The school’s head pre-k teacher at the time strenuously denied that any such incident occurred.) Among parents of color, it seemed undeniable that bias accounted for at least some of the opposition. “They say it’s about rezoning,” a black woman who lives the Amsterdam Houses and whose child attends 199 said at one of the October hearings, “but what they’re worried about is having to integrate with public-housing minority kids.””
For the record: my high-poverty-concentration-school-attending kids have never known, known of, or known of anyone who has known of a drug mule. But I’ll ask them if they know what it means…. They did, however, believe in Santa WAY longer than I did growing up in my middle class whiteland – and the tooth fairy, too (despite the fact that their tooth fairy sometimes fell asleep on the couch and completely neglected their duties and then might drop a buck onto the floor while sad kid was brushing their gums the next morning and exclaim “oh, child! i think you missed this!”).
On the common good and Achievement culture: ““Everything’s too competitive. By kindergarten you have to have your kid in ballet and fencing and cooking,” said [a state lawmaker backing the fight against rezoning]. “It’s too risky now, at least in the eyes of most parents, to sacrifice some years of your child’s education for a greater social good.”
It’s easy to get behind this rhetoric if (a) it were true and (b) it took into consideration all children that, say, state lawmakers might be interested in supporting. But (a) it’s often NOT true that a child’s education is sacrificed (though it might look different without hundreds of thousands of PTA dollars). And it’s this SENSE of how “competitive” things like college admissions are more than the reality… (see more on this here). And of course, (b) no one’s children should have to sacrifice in our public institutions.
On ridiculousness (this made the rounds a while ago, but, like Devos’s grizzly threat, it bears (!) repeating and we are thankful to Patrick Wall for reminding us: “When Chancellor Carmen Fariña, a 50-year veteran of the school system, was asked about her views on school diversity, she gave a now-infamous response that rich and poor students needn’t necessarily attend the same schools—they could be pen pals.” Pen pals. Pen. Pals.
On stats: “Segregation between poor and non-poor students in public schools rose more than 40 percent from 1991 to 2012” This means that our school diversity experience is much more diverse that our kids’ will be. Our bubble has gotten smaller.
On hiding integration behind all kinds of other things (as is one of my favorite topics, this is just a confirmation quote): “If you look at some of the districts that have had success with these [desegregation] programs, it’s taken the political will of politicians to stand up and make a strong case in favor of school desegregation,” Delmont [author of Why Busing Failed, said]. “It’s almost impossible to imagine any of these things working if you can’t actually say what you’re trying to do.”
On property values: “Even if 199’s overcrowding made the zone change inevitable, it still blindsided parents who’d paid a fortune to live near the school. Many saw it as a betrayal of a tacit agreement between the city and higher-income families: If you keep your kids in the public system, we’ll let you secure spots in the top-ranked schools if you purchase homes in their zones. That might sound counter to the ideals of public education, but the parents had reason to think city leaders were in on the deal. When Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked at an unrelated press conference that November whether he was willing to rearrange zone lines to promote school integration, he replied: “You have to also respect families who have made a decision to live in a certain area oftentimes because of a specific school.” Such families have “made massive life decisions and investments because of which school their kid would go to.” The flipside of this bargain is that redrawing school boundaries could affect children’s schooling—and their parents’ real-estate investments. As one dad put it at that October hearing: “We want the best for our children. We want the best for our property values.”
My kids + My property values = The kind of society I want my kids to be adults in???