But the concentration of the poor in the government schools has been long in coming. I was just clearing out more old magazines, and found "The Newest Minority," printed in The Atlantic Monthly in 1993. It's about the women having no children, and the men losing reason and faith. Starting in Belmont, Massachusetts. (Yes, that Belmont.) It's written by then Massachusetts state senator Michael Barrett.
The very community that was such a good place to raise a family in the 1960s is the most likely to have a large complement of empty-nesters in the 1990s, many of whom will be less interested in the schools than they once were.The electoral math, Mr Barrett argues, works against Belmont's government schools.
The district I represent in the Massachusetts state senate includes Belmont, a middle-class and upper-middle-class suburb of 24,720. Belmont is a wonderful town, home to many people, once blue-collar, who have moved out over the years from the urban environs of Cambridge and Boston, and to others who hail from around the country and have been drawn to professional opportunities in the nearby cities or along the Route 128 technology belt.
Belmont takes great pride in both the reputation and the appearance of its gracefully landscaped high school, complete with duck pond, which lies near the town center. More than 90 percent of the school's juniors and seniors take the SATs, the average combined verbal and mathematics score is over a thousand, and 87 percent of the graduating class at least begin a four-year college education.
But the Belmont schools are caught in the demographic squeeze. In 1960, the postwar influx having supplied a stream of young settlers, 42.0 percent of the households had children under eighteen. Ten years later the figure had declined to 35.7 percent. It was down to 28.7 percent by 1980 and 26.4 percent by 1990. Outside observers would hardly call Belmont a retirement community, yet sometime around 1975 it reached a watershed for an American town: the proportion of its households containing people over sixty-five exceeded the proportion of its households with children under eighteen.
Belmont is a healthy, thriving place, and it may well be that the citizenry will rally behind its tradition of fine education. But the going will be tough, because the problem remains: in cities and towns across the country a demographic bulge once operated to keep the schools at the center of community life, and now it is gone. Today the presence of kids in every other house on the street is something out of the past, and the parents of schoolchildren, middle-class and poor alike, are the country's newest minority group. At a historic moment when the schools need to be better than ever, they are instead treading water, even slipping back a bit, and by world standards genuine excellence is a long way off.Mr Barrett (yes, it's what you'd expect an elected official to do) suggests that the national government increase its contributions to local school funding.
One has to wonder, then: Will communities like Belmont, composed of growing proportions of nonparents and empty nesters--people more likely to insist on quality health care than on quality education--continue to support their schools? To put the matter simply, will the votes be there? And if they are not, what does American democracy do then?
I fear, though, that the intervening quarter century of ethnic balkanization, identity politics, trendy and failed educationist fads, residential self-segregation, and homeschooling are going to make any reversal of government schools as schools of last resort, with all the attendant challenges that accompany such a status, a long time in coming.
Start with a recent report from New York City, where there are more applicants for the charter schools than there are seats.
City charter school operators will open 16 new facilities in the coming school year, bringing the total number of city charter schools to 221.That may be, but people, whether they have enough votes to get the local schools funded properly or not, prefer a choice, notes Stephen Moore.
Mayor de Blasio has brawled with some operators of the privately run, publicly funded charters over funding, oversight and classroom space for their schools.
City Education department spokeswoman Devora Kaye said all city kids deserve quality educations.
“Every student deserves access to a great school, whether district or charter,” Kaye said.
We know in Washington, D.C., where voucher programs already exist, voucher kids are more likely to graduate and go on to college than those stuck in the public schools.Via Craig Newmark.
The unions hate vouchers because it means fewer jobs and union dues for the labor bosses. But who are the schools for? The teachers or the kids?
Thanks to the Obama administration’s radicalism, millions of children will be now stuck in schools that the parents believe are unsafe and immoral. Millions more are stuck in failing schools that are racially segregated. Fifty years ago George Wallace wouldn’t let minority poor children into the public schools. Now the unions and others on the left won’t let minorities and poor children out. It’s hard to know which is worse.
How much longer can the Democrat nachalstvo claim to "fight" for the rainbow coalition and the teachers' unions and the boutique multiculturalists whilst actually rendering people helpless by Democrat policies, and sending their spawn to the likes of Sidwell Friends rather than have them associate with their constituents. None of which will immediately help the kids getting their government issued crappy lunches to go with their government issued simulacrum of schooling.