Segregation Now

You’re white, in your early 30s and you have a 6-year-old child. For ten years you and your wife (you got married four years ago) have been living in a “rehabbing” neighborhood close to the downtown of a large American city. You pioneered this area (along with other couples, singles and homosexuals) when it was heavily inner-city poor and have been a part of the revitalization — bars, boutiques, coffee houses, museums, new residential construction — that turned it into an attractive venue for new migrants and visitors.

But your child is now school age and therein lies a problem. The local elementary school is three blocks away. It is an old building staffed by the typical collection of unionized, mediocre teachers. The school has no academic distinction at all. Test scores are pitiful. It has been labeled a failing school by the State Board of Ed. There have been some “incidents” that your wife has heard about, not in the local newspaper, but at the organic food store and at the farm-to-table restaurant where she sometimes meets friends for lunch. The elementary school student body is overwhelmingly black. 

Up until a few years ago there was a good Catholic elementary school attached to the parish church. But the old parishioners long since moved away and the diocese had to shutter both the church and the school to pay damages related to the pedophile priest horrors. That option is gone.  

Five miles away, close to the formerly WASP neighborhood of spacious homes that you and your wife cannot come close to affording, there is a well-regarded Quaker private primary school. It is extremely expensive. Test scores are high, the building, while old, is well-tended and constantly upgraded, and the parents of the pupils are highly involved in the school, something that is not true of the public elementary school three blocks away. (“We were the only ones at the PTA meetings,” one of your friends told you about their experience there.) Another friend of yours, a Ph.D in English, took a teaching job at the Quaker school for a below-union salary simply to guarantee that her kids would have preferential admission to it. 

You and your wife are still paying off your own student loans. Deciding to become parents was risky enough; now you are being confronted with more tough choices. On the one hand, your values, including your commitment to the neighborhood where you live, mandate that you enroll your child in the local public school. You, your wife, and similarly committed friends could and should work to make that school better, to make a difference. Your wife is happy being a part-time employee and is always home for your child. That means a lot, and it will mean even more if another young one joins the family, as both you and your wife fervently wish.

On the other hand, your kid is only a kid once. You and your wife want the best for your loved one and you’ve often said no sacrifice is too great for family.  If you instead opt for the Quaker school, you are going to have to make a lot more money. It’s virtually assured that your wife will have to go to work full-time as well. The plans you have for a second child will have to be postponed. Plus, it seems somehow patronizing to believe that your child is going to make that big a difference in the local school: as one of your friends said, “Why do people think black kids have to sit next to white kids in order to learn?”

As the time for a decision gets closer the image of the actual physical school building three blocks away fades and that image of your child sitting in a predominantly black classroom dominates your thoughts about the matter. At first you agree with your friend — it is condescending. What are you, the White Savior? But gradually, other questions arising from that image push to the forefront of your mind. 

How is your child going to learn in that environment, in a school with metal detectors and security guards? In a classroom where the teachers sit passively at their desks because they are in mortal fear of the kids who sit cutting up in the back rows? Where “acting white” is a pejorative? Where fights among the kids are commonplace? Where most of the schoolchildren slip further and further behind standard academic competence as they get older? Where, you’ve heard from a former security guard there, 10-year-olds are engaging in intercourse in the school lavatory? How can your one and only child’s potential be developed amidst that kind of dysfunction? 

You and your wife sit down one Saturday morning and decide — you’re going to try home schooling.

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41 thoughts on “Segregation Now”

  1. I genuinely feel for you. It seems like the only two options are move or homeschooling.

    Now homeschooling does not have to be only done in the daytime, night school is possible.

    But, there may be another option… In Pennsylvania there are online charter schools. Check with your state and see if that option is available to you. Just Google “yourstate charter school”

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  2. This might be a great opportunity. One size does not always fit all. We live in an age that has some great tools and being out of the system might be just the thing to give a child a leg up in life.

    I bet there are some good people reading this that know the ins and outs of these things. Problems can be new to us but they are not new to others.

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  3. My daughter became a Roman catholic just to get her kids into  better schools in the Seattle area. The flight from mediocrity is underway and receiving no press and little mention.

    I keep hoping that a real out of the box thinking to liberate education from the public sector is part of Trump’s second term, after immigration is under control.

    All that is needed is to create a profit motive for alternative schooling and run interference from grasping public sector unions and watch what American Ingenuity can deliver.

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  4. It is a sad that children are not getting educated. How is this possible? Money is spent and there are classrooms with teachers but it is to no avail. If the government can’t teach the ABCs how is it suppose to get EKGs, EEGs, and IVs down.

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  5. Your child is a precious gift and I commend your decision to educate him or her with the best teachers possible, which are you and your wife. The homeschooled children I’ve known are among the most resourceful and liberally educated people I’ve met, and there are quite a few homeschoolers here in the suburbs too, where the schools are good. I understand there are homeschool associations that bring together like families, and you will surely share values with them.

    Your story, though, shows that our city schools, despite massive funding, have no idea how to create a true safe space in which children are free and unafraid to learn and improve their lives, and that’s depressing.

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  6. TKC 1101:
    The flight from mediocrity is underway and receiving no press and little mention.

    Actually, it’s a flight to mediocrity from horror. That Catholic school probably pales in comparison to pre-1960s public schools

    9+

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  7. 10 cents

    It is a sad that children are not getting educated. How is this possible? Money is spent and there are classrooms with teachers but it is to no avail. If the government can’t teach the ABCs how is it suppose to get EKGs, EEGs, and IVs down.

    The neo-Marxist “regressive” Red Diaper Babies have taken over the Deep State, K-12. Colleges, Hollywood, MSM. I saw it from the begining in the late 1950s, 1960s, New Age 1970s deep inside the thick of it. Now it may be too late with the conga line of frauds and freaks running against Trump in 2020 with that idiot Beto and dingy AOC as the the image of the Idiocrat Party.

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  8. If I may make a suggestion? Use the option my wife and I used with our children: homeschool. It is more formidable in consideration than once you are doing it. Your children will avoid the medium-security prison environment of today’s public schools. They will get a better education than they can even at a private school. They will mature into autonomous adults (which is the desired end result.

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  9. Homeschooling need not necessarily mean one family’s parents going it alone to educate their own children.  In a gentrifying/gentrified community of the kind described in the original post (“bars, boutiques, coffee houses, museums, new residential construction … organic food store … farm-to-table restaurant”) there are likely other families in similar circumstances who are contemplating the same choice or who have already made the decision to take direct responsibility for their children’s education.  It is not unusual for a group of like-minded parents to loosely affiliate with one another to educate their children as a team project.  Some parents may prefer to work with younger children, while others, who may have direct knowledge of subject matter far beyond that of the unionised Education degree teachers at the public school, take on the secondary courses such as post-arithmetic mathematics, history, languages, literature, and sciences.  This also allows children to meet and learn along with others, which negates the argument than you have to go to a socialised education factory in order to become “socialised”.  Further, having a group of parents involved means they can fill in for one another when exigencies of life come up.

    Cooperating with other homeschooling parents does not abdicate individual parents’ responsibility for their children’s education; instead it pools knowledge and resources to provide a richer learning environment for all the children involved.  It is my understanding (although I have not researched it in detail) that there are a lot of parents doing this.

    14+

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  10. Homeschool rocks.

    We had moved to one of the better suburbs to get our kids into one of the top-rated schools.   It was a very disappointing experience, and we ended up homeschooling.   This was in the mid-oughts, when homeschooling was still sort of edgy.

    Not now.   You are going to find that the homeschool cooperative in your area is a really sophisticated education machine, offering lots of choices.

    Plus, you become closer to your kids.

    7+

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  11. G.D.:
    I genuinely feel for you. It seems like the only two options are move or homeschooling.

    Now homeschooling does not have to be only done in the daytime, night school is possible.

    But, there may be another option… In Pennsylvania there are online charter schools. Check with your state and see if that option is available to you. Just Google “yourstate charter school”

    I have friends that homeschooled their two girls in Pa for their first 10 years sending them to a Catholic High School for their last two years. They were only a year apart. They are now at Dayton University, the older having received a full academic scholarship. The Pa home program is very good. Their mother didn’t have a college degree although she is highly intelligent.

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  12. My oldest brother and his wife went the homeschool route a decade ago.  The team approach John mentioned is widespread and very effective.  My nieces and nephews are academic rock stars.

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  13. MJBubba:
    Plus, you become closer to your kids.

    Plus again, your kids become closer to each other.

    Plus yet again, your kids learn how to get along and make friends with people of all ages, aptitudes, and in all walks of life.

    5+

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  14. jzdro:
    Plus again, your kids become closer to each other.

    Plus yet again, your kids learn how to get along and make friends with people of all ages, aptitudes, and in all walks of life.

    True on both counts. Our three are allies. My older brother’s  (public school) fight each other all the time.  And ours are great working with a wide range of folks, not just their peer group.

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  15. Long story short, My daughter went to public schools and became motivated and now she has a PHD. She teaches at a university and is the executive director of a foundation. My son went to a catholic school and then a locally prestigious preparatory school, also catholic, and finally to a university run by the Jesuits. He finished his four year course in three and a half years. He does remote computer work from home, (nearby), and pulls in over 100 grand a year.

    I’m blessed by their successes. There you have it, two sides of a three sided coin, the third side, homeschooling is probably as good an alternative during these troubling times.

    I believe we all wish you well in your choice. Just look at all the alternatives including remote charter schooling.

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  16. TKC 1101:
    My daughter became a Roman catholic just to get her kids into  better schools in the Seattle area.

    Bingo! My brother and sister-in-law did the same thing and all three of their kids graduated from Notre Dame high school in LA and went on to good colleges; my niece learned to speak Mandarin and Japanese as a regular part of the curriculum there.

    My family comes from a  Presbyterian background and my father was an Elder in his church. I’m a secular.

    Not a single one of us objected to this.

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  17. P.S. I failed to mention why my sister-in-law made this decision in the first place. I would be annihilated on another site for repeating this but her community in LA is heavily populated by Iranian immigrants and their progeny. She was frantic that her two sons would be exposed to cultural norms that could hurt women particularly her daughter.

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  18. Re.:  public school

    Do your due diligence.   Investigate the situation thoroughly.   You may find that kindergarten through fourth grade are fine, and that the problems begin in middle school.   That is a pretty common situation.   You might opt to put your child in First Grade as an experiment to see how it goes.   If homeschooling is the way to go, you will learn that in the first six months.

    This is a path, however, that precludes private school, because you will have missed the enrollment opportunities.   But it sounds like the private school options are not affordable.   If public school works for just a year or two, then the wife’s income can help retire a lot of debt in that time.  And, you might get lucky and have an experience like that described above by Bryan G. S., though it sounds like that is not all that likely.

    Also, the child who gets to be homeschooled after a year or two of public school is more appreciative of the opportunity, and more determined to make homeschool work out, and so understands that cooperation with the parents is essential in order to avoid a return to the public school.

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  19. Freesmith:  …
    You and your wife are still paying off your own student loans. Deciding to become parents was risky enough; now you are being confronted with more tough choices. On the one hand, your values, including your commitment to the neighborhood where you live, mandate that you enroll your child in the local public school. You, your wife, and similarly committed friends could and should work to make that school better, to make a difference. Your wife is happy being a part-time employee and is always home for your child. That means a lot, and it will mean even more if another young one joins the family, as both you and your wife fervently wish.

    On the other hand, your kid is only a kid once. You and your wife want the best for your loved one and you’ve often said no sacrifice is too great for family. …

    Your first duty is to your own kids.   Yes, there is a community commitment, and you want your neighborhood school to be a great school.   But you cannot lift a failing school if the families that are similarly situated as you have already bailed on the situation.   If that is the case, they probably had good reasons.

    White woke Leftist elites will parrot the teacher union slanders against families who prize good educations for their kids above participation in the collective government schools.   Brush them off.   The schools are failing for a variety of reasons that a single household cannot correct, and, besides, you will be forced to continue to pay taxes that will provide continued funding for the Big Education machine that continues to let the school fail.

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  20. White woke Leftist elites will also decry the opportunity lost by the smart educated wife who takes part time work at a much lower level in order to devote her time to educating the young’un.   Brush that off, also.   Her top priority right now is the child, and rightfully so.   If they are confused on that point, then they are too confused to be listened to.

    Snooks was my stay-at-home MBA for several years, having given up a successful career as a management consultant.   After we were no longer homeschooling, she taught biology at a local church school for two years, then launched her own business.    She is now twelve years her own boss, and just a couple of months ago finally succeeded in talking older son into joining her company.

    My family benefited much more by her time spent at home than we possibly could have benefited from her career.   We are all happier and more relaxed.   Our sons are level-headed and competent.

    And the public schools are still failing.   Our continued participation there would have been wasted.

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  21. MJBubba:
    And the public schools are still failing.

    I have a theory about this; I think we need to break down public schools by socio-demographics.

    I grew up in an affluent neighborhood with three highly rated private schools but my parents felt no need to spend that money when the AP courses I took in the public system were excellent. My history and English courses were designed around those you experience in college- lectures, seminars, and essay (not multiple choice) exams.

    I remember cleaning out my closet in my parents home before my marriage and discovering all the essays I had written in grades 9-12. One of them was entitled “The Causes of the Russian Revolution” and 20 years later, I didn’t understand a word I’d written. 🙂

    The reason I received a high quality public education was not just about the budgets. Parents were actively involved and stressed the importance of an advanced curriculum with both their kids and their teachers. I was not reading The Catcher in the Rye in 10th grade (summer reading at best); I was tackling Shakespeare.

    I also had pressure (a reasonable amount to be sure) to study, make good grades and score well on the SATs. In more urban environments, I know there are minds just aching to learn but they have absolutely no support from their single parent households or their peers. Succeeding academically is disdained as a “white thing.”

    I believe the public school system in many neighborhoods is a reflection of broken families and generation after generation of illegitimacy and gangstas.

    What teacher cares to act as a parole officer?

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  22. EThompson:
    The reason I received a high quality public education was not just about the budgets. Parents were actively involved and stressed the importance of an advanced curriculum with both their kids and their teachers.

    Parental involvement is key.   I went to a relatively poor county school in Tennesee, but Dad had moved us to a great school.   It was great because of motivated parents who had high standards and high expectations.   There were lots of moms hovering around the school.   PTA meetings were standing-room affairs.   School programs drew packed houses.   Parent-teacher conferences were common.   Volunteers donated many hours of labor to school maintenance and repairs.   A teacher was suddenly widowed and the parents collected a large sum to put her kids through college.   Our teachers were appreciated and they knew it.

    They expected all the kids to get a great education, and we did, pulling along kids from poor families with us.   The community spirit was something I still miss.

    A school can be great even if it is a poor school.   What it takes is motivated parents.

    I don’t know what killed the motivation of parents.   I don’t know how to ignite it.   But I saw the results.

    With the lack of a community of involved parents, parents have to focus all their energy on their own kids.   If you don’t get to leverage your energy by teaming with all the other families in the school, then join the homeschool co-op and team up there.

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  23. Another thing…

    I brought up two girls who went to one of the best public school systems in the country.

    The main reason it was so highly rated IMO is because of the existing, and later self-fulfilling demographics. Fairly wealthy, but no so wealthy like nearby Princeton NJ that many more residents send their kids to private and prep schools. It’s now probably 50% east and south Asians and  professionals, chemists, scientists etc ( big pharmaceutical area) of all backgrounds.

    But on many occasions I felt like I was homeschooling my daughters. These teachers were off-loading tremendous amounts of coursework to “ homework”.

    Unbelievable amounts of reading, writing and processing a all had to happen outside the classroom.

    I’m still resentful of this approach, and of course these teachers get all the credit when parents are tasked doing so much work.

    I almost ‘lost it’ when the marquee of the local middle school said on the summer break something like, “Happy summer students! Parents, tag, you’re it!”

    Yeah, we’ve been ‘it’ the whole time…

    So homeschooling is pretty much what most parents have to do anyway.

    Best of luck!

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