Greater Greater Washington

Education


De facto segregation threatens Montgomery public schools

Montgomery County Public Schools are often regarded as one of the best school systems in the nation, with schools routinely topping regional and national rankings. But as the county grows more diverse, MCPS is becoming a system of haves and have-nots.


Percentage of students on FARMS versus percentage of white students in MCPS high schools.

In recent years, MCPS has experienced dramatic demographic shifts. In 2000, MCPS was predominantly white. Today, 2/3 of its 149,000 students are racial or ethnic minorities. 42% have at one time received free or reduced lunch (FARMS), a measure of poverty.

But those demographic changes haven't occurred equally across the county. Despite claims to the contrary, a look at MCPS' own data shows that who you are and where you live in Montgomery County is the best indicator of what kind of education you'll get.

Increase in minority, low-income students concentrated in East County

Nowhere has the makeup of MCPS changed more than in the Northeast and Downcounty consortia, which were established in the late 1990's in an attempt to promote racial and socioeconomic integration in the county's east side. 8th graders living in the Northeast Consortium are allowed to pick between Blake, Paint Branch and Springbrook high schools, while in the Downcounty Consortium, they choose between Einstein, Northwood, Kennedy, Wheaton and Blair, which is also a magnet school.


Graph of changes in white and FARMS student population at each school.

Over the past 15 years, they've experienced massive increases in low-income students and drops in white students. Today, the 8 consortia schools contain almost half of the county's black, Hispanic and low-income students in a system with 26 high schools. Minorities make up at least 75% of the student body at each school. Nearly 80% of students at Wheaton and Kennedy high schools are on reduced lunch, while 10% of the county's black students attend Paint Branch.


The Northeast and Downcounty consortia and "Top White" school clusters. Click for an interactive map.

Meanwhile, 6 top-ranked high schools contain a plurality of the county's white students: Sherwood, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and the vaunted "W schools," Winston Churchill, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman and Thomas Wootton. We'll call these the "Top White" schools.

Black, Hispanic and low-income students are a small minority at "Top White" schools, and in the case of Whitman, almost nonexistent. While they've all lost some white students in past years, the proportion of low-income students barely changed.

MCPS is growing, but white flight is occurring too

To an extent, these changes reflect the demographic shifts of the county as a whole, which became a majority-minority jurisdiction for the first time in 2010. MCPS is also growing, and demographer Bruce Crispell estimates that as many as 85% of the county's kids attend a public school, compared to 80% in 2000.


The proportion of white students in MCPS (solid lines) versus white kids living in the county (dotted lines).

If more students are attending MCPS, one might assume that it would look more like the county as a whole. But the gap between how many white students are in MCPS and how many live here is large and growing. Between 2000 and 2011, the percentage of teenagers living in Montgomery County who were white fell from 60% to 54%, while the proportion of white students in MCPS high schools fell from about 50% to 33%.

This suggests that white families either have left MCPS or moved to higher-ranked schools while other families take their places.

Your income level determines the quality of your school

Like most public school systems, MCPS school assignments are based on where a student lives. This results in what education analyst Michael Petrilli calls "private public schools": high-ranked schools that serve few or no low-income students because the surrounding neighborhoods are prohibitively expensive.


Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda is a "private public school."

According to local agency MoCoRealEstate, the median sales price of a home in the Whitman cluster was $860,000 last year. That's compared to $330,000 in the Northeast Consortium and $322,000 in the Downcounty Consortium.


Home prices in each high school catchment versus the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch there.

Though MCPS boasts a high graduation rate, just 74% of students at Wheaton graduate within 4 years, below state and national averages. 1 out of every 8 students at Wheaton and Northwood drop out each year. But nearly all students in the "Top White" schools graduate on time.


More students are suspended, withdraw from school or drop out entirely in consortia high schools.

MCPS officials boast that every school offers Advanced Placement classes, a sign of academic rigor, but consortia students failed 60% of their AP exams last year. While most high school students countywide failed their math exams this year, the failure rate was much higher in the consortia. 4 out of every 5 students at Wheaton failed their math exams, compared to just 17% at Whitman.


AP and math exam failures are dramatically higher at low-income schools.

There's evidence that segregation has had a negative effect on student performance. A recent study from the County Council's Office of Legislative Oversight revealed that black, Hispanic and low-income students are falling further behind white and Asian students in performance on AP tests and the SAT.

It's not that low-income or minority students are inherently inferior. But they often lack access to amenities like early education that can't be made up at school, especially when that school is dominated by kids with the same needs. Studies show that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds do better in a mixed environment, which I'll talk about in future posts.

Montgomery's future depends on its schools

This isn't a new problem. A 1994 study from the Harvard Project on School Desegregation found that past attempts at desegregation were ineffective, but MCPS administrators were unwilling to admit it. "The county's progressive image has created a fierce resistance to serious analysis of rapidly changing conditions," wrote author Gary Orfield.

If administrators seriously want to help their low-income and minority students, they can't continue to ghettoize them in a handful of schools. Otherwise, MCPS will become a two-tier system, with a small group of highly-ranked, predominantly white and affluent schools, and another group of lower-ranked, predominantly poor and minority schools.

MCPS is also integral to economic development. The county's efforts to revitalize East County neighborhoods, like Wheaton or White Oak, hinge on the perception of its most troubled schools.

How did this happen? And what can we do about it? Over the next few days, I'll try to answer those questions, starting with a look at the the county's attempts at school choice.

A planner and architect by training, Dan Reed also writes his own blog, Just Up the Pike, and serves as the Land Use Chair for the Action Committee for Transit. He lives in downtown Silver Spring. 

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This results in what education analyst Michael Petrilli calls "private public schools": high-ranked schools that serve few or no low-income students because the surrounding neighborhoods are prohibitively expensive.

Isn't this how school selection works in almost all suburban districts?

I see why this is a problem, but I don't know of very many places where you aren't assigned to a school by (approximate) geographic proximity. (Although, MD/VA's system of strong county governments, and the overall high density and cohesiveness of the DC region makes us somewhat of an oddball compared to other places. You'd never have this discussion about New Jersey)

Are we arguing that the proximity system should be abandoned, or that the present boundary lines are gerrymandered to have a racial slant?

by andrew on Jun 26, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

The author's main contention that "Your income level determines the quality of your school" is based on the assumption that higher ranked schools provide a higher quality education than lower ranked schools. However, the rankings are based on educational outcomes and not the quality of teachers/principals or educational opportunities.

I went to one of the lower ranked schools (although in the 90s, so my experience is dated) and I'd strongly contest the notion that these schools have inferior teachers/principals or provide worse educational opportunities. I think the author actually provides the best explanation for why outcomes are disparate:

It's not that low-income or minority students are inherently inferior. But they often lack access to amenities like early education that can't be made up at school, especially when that school is dominated by kids with the same needs.

So, it's not the schools but rather access to amenities that exist outside of schools like early education. To that, I'd add that there are many other factors that exist outside of school that are impacting outcomes such as parental involvement.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

Studies show that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds do better in a mixed environment

I'm pretty sure that the track record of Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Whitman shoes the exact opposite effect.

Are we arguing that the proximity system should be abandoned,

I would definitely argue that we should do that. Basically, anyone in Montgomery County who wants to go to Whitman should have a chance at going to Whitman.

I'd strongly contest the notion that these schools have inferior teachers/principals or provide worse educational opportunities.

And yet you would be wrong!

by JustMe on Jun 26, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

Dan, excellent job compiling all of this. As someone who graduated from Watkins Mill in the '90s, I'm fascinated, and somewhat dismayed, to see how it has been transformed in the last 15 years.

I need some additional time to digest all the info before I make any more comments.

by Birdie on Jun 26, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

Basically, anyone in Montgomery County who wants to go to Whitman should have a chance at going to Whitman.

How would they decide who gets to go to Whitman out of everyone who wants to go? A lottery?

I'd strongly contest the notion that these schools have inferior teachers/principals or provide worse educational opportunities.

And yet you would be wrong!

Is there any data to show that I'm wrong? Teachers get paid the same amount whether they're teaching at Whitman or Einstein, so why would Whitman have the monopoly on good teachers? I'd bet Einstein is an easier commute for most teachers since teachers aren't likely to be living in expensive areas like Bethesda.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church: I'd strongly contest the notion that these schools have inferior teachers/principals or provide worse educational opportunities.

I don't know if the teachers and principals at Whitman and B-CC are worse than the teachers and principals at Wheaton and Blair (excluding the magnet). But I think it's pretty clear that the educational opportunities are better at Whitman and B-CC -- or, at minimum, that a lot of people think they are, and are willing to pay an extra half million dollars for a house so that their child can go to Whitman or B-CC instead of Wheaton.

And you know what else improves educational outcomes for low-income students, besides early education and parental involvement? Not going to a high-poverty school.

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

Whoops, I mean if the teachers and principals at Whitman and B-CC are BETTER!

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

at 44% Jeb Stuart is the Fairfax HS with the highest percent of FARMS, and that is about the same as the MCPS average.

Simply spreading the poor around in MCPS may result only in the "better" high schools in MCPS looking worse compared to the average high schools in FCPS.

I would consider that before making radical changes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

note also,it appears from this data that only whitman has a FARMS percent below 8%

IN FCPS 4 high schools EXCLUDING TJHSST have percents of 5% or below - Langley, Mclean, Woodson, and Madison.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

How many times do we have to demonstrate that attending a predominantly white and rich school leads to better outcomes in a society that celebrates being white and rich? It also surprises me how often we rediscover that the white and rich will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and rich.
Also, arguably and probably statistically, the future upward mobility of kids in those schools has very very little to do with where they attended K-12.

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

There is nothing in the above data about being rich. All the ses data is on percentage with free or reduced meals. I would venture that the vast majority of those ineligible for such meals would not be considered rich by most Americans.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

@AWITC: I would venture that the vast majority of those ineligible for such meals would not be considered rich by most Americans.

We are not, however, talking about "the vast majority of those ineligible" for FARMS, in the US as a whole. We are talking about the students at Whitman and B-CC. Which are located in Bethesda and Bethesda, respectively.

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

Miriam: But I think it's pretty clear that the educational opportunities are better at Whitman and B-CC -- or, at minimum, that a lot of people think they are, and are willing to pay an extra half million dollars for a house so that their child can go to Whitman or B-CC instead of Wheaton.

There are many reasons why people pay more for houses in Bethesda than Wheaton but yes, one of them is the schools. However, there's no clear evidence that the differentiating factor that causes people to prefer Whitman over east county schools is differences in educational opportunities. I'd say the differentiating factor is what commenter @Alger said:

It also surprises me how often we rediscover that the white and rich will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and rich.

Put another way, people want to send their kids to schools with a favored peer group. It doesn't necessarily have to do with educational opportunity (or teacher/principal quality).

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Bethesda includes, IIUC, significant areas that not that long ago had SFHS that were quite affordable to the upper middle class (not every student currently attending those high schools is from a family that has moved in recently). And I guess some of them live in apartments, including older apartments.

Are you suggesting that EVERY family in Bethesda is rich?

http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Bethesda-Maryland.html

the median household income in bethesda in 2009 was about 130k. That means over half were under 130k. Thats not much more than what would qualify for "workforce housing" under HUD rules (at 120% of AMI).

20% had incomes between 75k and 125k, which I would suggest are solidly (not even upper) middle class in our region.

In addition 29% had incomes BELOW 75k.

only 33% of households had incomes in excess of 200k. Which is a high percentage compared to most parts of the region, to be sure, but is not even a majority of the residents of bethesda.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

note average FAMILY incomes run higher than that. But still include apparently a majority below 200k. And very significant numbers of families with children with incomes below 100k, esp single parent families. The median FAMILY income for families with a single earner is below 150k - the high family incomes appear to be heavily driven by multiple earner families.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

It also surprises me how often we rediscover that the white and rich will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and rich.

Plenty of well-off whites are trying to get their children into TJHSST, which is more than 60% Asian at this point.

I'm of the opinion that B-CC and Whitman offer a better education than other Montgomery County Public schools. Of course, I'm willing to bet on that by arguing that attending those schools shouldn't be contingent merely on living nearby, and that this would improve educational opportunities for all in Montgomery County.

by JustMe on Jun 26, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

basically wealthy and upper middle class whites don't want to send their kids to schools where the majority of kids are black/hispanic and poor (IE FARMS eligible) That may or may not be a wise strategy (I believe its less wise than many such families thing), that may or not be based in bigotry(undoubtedly in some cases it is).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

In almost every northern state, the local government is broken down into townships, boroughs and cities. Each political entity has their own school system, often with just 1 high school, 1 or 2 middle schools and 1 or 2 elementary schools. I'm most familiar with Pennsylvania and many higher population PA counties have 30-50 different independent school districts. The income levels and cost of living between each district is huge, as people pay to segregate themselves into what they see as the best school district they can afford. At least in MD and VA the County wide system provides an ability to spread around resources. The fact that we're getting the same self segregation and achievement gaps in a system that has the ability to share resources (lets me real, Montgomery Blair, Paint Branch, Blake - these schools are much nicer with far more extra curricular activities and better paid teachers than a township in PA with similar incomes would be able to afford).

To not be willing to suggest part of the reason the schools with high FARMS percentages have lower achievement rates may be a factor of the home environment is failing to look at the whole picture. There is an increased chance that students on FARMS assistance come home to parents that are working multiple jobs to make ends meet and are unable to be engaged in their childs future. I'd be willing to bet on the hidden bigotry of humanity that if the County were to equalize the population across all schools, the wealthy mobile would just leave and the entire system would quickly become more and more dependent on FARMS, the housing values would fall or stagnate, and educational achievement would fall. I'd also be willing to bet if I had a child and they went through the system at one of these higher FARMS percentage/lower housing income schools they would have a fine education, because like it or not, the school systems segregate students on achievement and a student who is well achieving/has engaged parents would be in classes full of similar students, and would sadly not interact with the rest of the school except during class change, lunch and non academic classes like art, music and PE.

by Gull on Jun 26, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

oh, and B-CC has about 20% getting FARMS.

Thats one fifth of the school right there. A family sending their kid to B-CC is NOT avoiding having their kid with poor kids (let alone non-rich kids). They ARE avoiding having their kid at a school where 40% or more are on FARMS.

Again, for comparison, schools where the percent on FARMS is about 20% in FCPS include Hayfield, South Lakes and Edison, none of which are considered particularly affluent high schools in FFX, AFAICT.

Note, in Loudoun, the HS with the highest FARMS percent has 26%. Thats ParkView in "low SES" Sterling. The remainder are 11% or below.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

if I had a child and they went through the system at one of these higher FARMS percentage/lower housing income schools they would have a fine education, because like it or not, the school systems segregate students on achievement and a student who is well achieving/has engaged parents would be in classes full of similar students, and would sadly not interact with the rest of the school except during class change, lunch and non academic classes like art, music and PE.

That's a great point. Look at the kids in the magnet or honors classes at the high FARMS schools and you'll see that the magnet/honors programs are basically a school within a school -- i.e., a mini-Whitman within a Wheaton. The educational opportunities are basically the same, it's other factors that are causing the gap in achievement. That's not true everywhere in the country but in MoCo, every school is well-funded with well paid teachers/principals and opportunities to take AP/honors classes. Yes, there's a somewhat wider range of AP/honors classes available at Whitman vs. Wheaton but that difference in opportunity is not what's causing the achievement gap.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

Plenty of well-off whites are trying to get their children into TJHSST, which is more than 60% Asian at this point. @ JUSTME

True enough in a demographic sense, but in the calculus of race I think it is pretty well established that Asians are honorary whites.
http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2010/01/25/problems-in-honorary-white-notions-for-asian-americans/

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 3:53 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

One of the big issues that Dr. Starr, MCPS superintendent, talks about is "integrating the classroom." (I'll have an interview with him up here within the next few days.) I went to a gifted-and-talented program at a magnet elementary school in Rockville and was one of THREE black or Hispanic kids in a program with 50 students. Ensuring that students of all backgrounds have access to higher-level classes (provided they can handle the work, of course) is an issue across MCPS.

But you can't "integrate the classroom" if the school isn't integrated. My AP classes at Blake High School were very mixed, because the school was mixed.

by dan reed! on Jun 26, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

One of the big issues that Dr. Starr, MCPS superintendent, talks about is "integrating the classroom."

That's a formula for disaster unless everyone is of similar ability in those classrooms. Because the trend these days is to integrate the classrooms by having it contain all different types of skill levels. That doesn't scale well in lower grades and that is a major impediment to learning in higher grades. "Integrating the classroom" isn't going to happen until, once again, you let the best students from the Northeast Consortium and Downcounty attend the top-level classes at Whitman.

It sounds like the real problem in MoCo is that the County itself is highly segregated.

by JustMe on Jun 26, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport

@ Alger "True enough in a demographic sense, but in the calculus of race I think it is pretty well established that Asians are honorary whites."

Wow, what an incredibly patronizing thing to say.

by Chris S. on Jun 26, 2013 4:16 pm • linkreport

@AWITC: Are you suggesting that EVERY family in Bethesda is rich?

No, of course EVERY family in Bethesda isn't rich. But the median household income in Bethesda is $185,000. I consider that quite well-off, if not rich. What do you think?

And actually the FARMS rate at B-CC is 11%:

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/regulatoryaccountability/glance/currentyear/schools/04406.pdf

8% at Walter Johnson, <5% at Churchill, <5% at Whitman, 6% at Wootton.

So yes, there are some poor kids at these schools. But there sure aren't many.

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Chris S,

read the link he posted. It outlines how the notion of a "model minority" like asian americans can be problematic as well. You're right that it is patronizing but I don't it was Alger's intent to endorse that view but to acknowledge that its out there and fairly pervasive as well.

by drumz on Jun 26, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

185k - Im pretty sure Joe Biden et all consider that middle class. Certainly in the discussion on taxes its been so considered. Upper Middle class. Affluent if you will. But not rich. And of course COL is higher in this region than elsewhere in the USA. A 185k could be two GS-13's. Or one GS 14 and one GS 12, I guess. We are not talking lawyer-lobbyist territory. And thats the median. Which means half are below that level.

I got the 20% figure and other figures for FARMS in MCPS from Dan's graph.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

@AWITC -- I'm not understanding your argument. The W school/BCC population is quite affluent, even by Montgomery County standards. But not rich. And so therefore...?

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

drumz - there may well be bigotry in white people wanting to avoid schools that are majority black/hispanic but being willing (in the case of TJ more than willing) to attend a school that is 60% asian - just as there may be bigotry in wanting to avoid schools that are majority FARMS eligible.

But its a bigotry of a different kind, I would suggest, then wanting to be at schools where "everyone else is rich and white". Its less about wanting to be with the "elite" and wanting to avoide the ostracized.

and it raise the uncomfortable issue - that schools where a majority are poor blacks/hispanics, a significant minority are going to be young people whose attitude to education and behavior will be a distinct negative for those, of every race and SES, who are there to learn.

Which, of course, is one reason why avoiding concentrations of the poor is desirable. Im just not sure that the numbers above (and Im going by Dans graph) suggest that its any longer possible to do that, effectively in MCPS alone. I fear, like Gull, that attempting to better distribute the poor in MCPS (including by lessening the role of the neighborhood school) would only result in the flight to FCPS and LCPS of a sufficient number of those with choices, as to be self-defeating.

A strategy more likely to be successful would be to try to draw more of those with choices to live in the County.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

"And so therefore...? "

Therefore Algers statement "It also surprises me how often we rediscover that the white and rich will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and rich."

is unsupported by this data. I think its somewhat unfair to the people who ARE paying a premium to send their kids to schools like BCC (which is far from being a publicly funded elite private school - and is likely even further from that status than some high schools in Fairfax County - though with the confusion over FARMS data, Im not sure) I think it mistates the issues those parents are dealing with. And it MAY be misleading as far as policy decisions are concerned.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

I think the issues raised here tell only part of the story. There is a push for more and more neighborhood schools, particularly at the elementary level. When neighborhoods have such increasing economic segregation, this increases school segregation. As one example, the Bethesda - Chevy Chase cluster has diversity, but almost all of that diversity is in the east end of the cluster. A recent successful proposal means Bethesda Elementary and Rosemary Hills Primary School will take more kids that are nearer those schools. In the short term, that means Bethesda has a few percent fewer FARMS students and Rosemary Hills a few more, but as the economics changes in these areas, it will mean that Bethesda Elementary will end up with almost no low income students. Incidentally, this boundary change is one of the first ones Joshua Starr approved as superintendent. Little tweaks to boundaries like this add up and contribute to the larger trends.

Additionally since BCC High school has so many students already, there are sporadic attempts to push the east end of the cluster out, which would increase segregation significantly.

The only real solution would be to make sure subsidized or moderately priced housing is more evenly distributed throughout the county.

by Dan (not Reed!) on Jun 26, 2013 4:37 pm • linkreport

"even by Montgomery County standards"

Im pretty sure MoCo median income is below both FFX county and Loudoun (and maybe Arlington?) and not far above Prince William (though thats distorted because PWC has very few singles compared to MoCo).

MoCo income isn't all that high by greater Washington standards. Thats the context for the above. Which I think people are missing.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

Dan Reed,

I went to a gifted-and-talented program at a magnet elementary school in Rockville and was one of THREE black or Hispanic kids in a program with 50 students. Ensuring that students of all backgrounds have access to higher-level classes (provided they can handle the work, of course) is an issue across MCPS.

Isn't this an example of how someone from Calverton (where I believe you grew up) did in fact get access to higher-level classes offered in a richer area of the county?

That said, I couldn't agree more with your statement that every student in the county, regardless of background or where they live, needs to have access to higher-level classes that challenge them appropriately. To some extent, that's solved by having magnet programs. That said, there are definitely students who go to a high school like Wheaton who are in the "donut hole" -- not quite gifted enough to make it into the magnet but not sufficiently challenged by the offerings available at Wheaton. The reason Wheaton doesn't offer as many AP classes as Whitman is that there are not sufficient numbers of students at Wheaton who want to take a class like AP Physics (that's a hypothetical...I don't know whether Wheaton actually offers AP Physics). For those students, the county should open up an AP Physics class at Wheaton even if there are only a handful of students who would take the class.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

AWITC,

I was just commenting on the "patronizing" comment to clarify that its meant to illuminate a bigotry that isn't really discussed outside of academic circles. You may well be right on all other points. I usually stay out of the education articles because its not in my wheelhouse.

by drumz on Jun 26, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

@Chris S
Sorry that I offended you, really. And I thank you for being so protective of me, since I am an honorary white who writes on racial issues.
Good job.
Wow, I really have to find a discussion forum where people have discussions.

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

"Integrating the classroom" isn't going to happen until, once again, you let the best students from the Northeast Consortium and Downcounty attend the top-level classes at Whitman.

The best students from the Northeast and Downcounty are generally neither poor nor disadvantaged minority, so doing that would not integrate the classroom. Also, the very best top-level classes are not at Whitman. They are at magnet programs like at Blair. In fact, the very best students who's home school is Whitman actually go to Blair.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 4:44 pm • linkreport

Therefore Algers statement "It also surprises me how often we rediscover that the white and rich will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and rich."

is unsupported by this data.

OK. "It also surprises me how often we discover that the white and affluent will do anything to avoid sending their kids to schools that are not also white and affluent."

And if Montgomery County's median income is below Fairfax and Loudoun Counties', that doesn't mean that Montgomery County's median income isn't high. It just means that Fairfax and Loudoun Counties' are even higher.

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

I don't know where Dan Reed got his data from, I just looked at the 'at a glace 2012-2013' year data for Wheaton HS and FARMS was only 59%, not 80% like the chart above shows. I don't have time to spend the afternoon looking at others, but something does not add up. The comparison points may actually still hold true with ratio of FARMS vs achievement vs % white, but the FARMS figures shown seem to be inflated.

by Gull on Jun 26, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

Actually, Wheaton high was also 15% white, not 8% (61% white minus 46% hispanic). He cites the same source but things are not adding up. Maybe a graphing error?

by Gull on Jun 26, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

For those students, the county should open up an AP Physics class at Wheaton even if there are only a handful of students who would take the class.

Another option is to allow those students to take classes at Montgomery College for free once they've exhausted opportunities at their home school.

by Falls Church on Jun 26, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity But its a bigotry of a different kind, I would suggest, then wanting to be at schools where "everyone else is rich and white". Its less about wanting to be with the "elite" and wanting to avoid the ostracized.

I apologize for being terse and therefore unclear in my comments above this, but we agree completely on this point: except that what I was trying to point out is that these are two sides of the same coin.
This is DC, where race dictates social standing and perception to a high degree*, therefore there is a strong relationship to being seen as White or equivalent and your social position. This is particularly true in the realm of school choice, where parents with the means to avoid 'bad' schools, do so.
Anyway. I'll stop now. Sorry for interrupting.

* Yes, this is also true of other places as well, but it is ALSO true of the DC metro region.

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

Seems like if some areas have disproportionately large numbers of FARMS students then the county is failing to create enough good-paying jobs in those areas.

by Chris S. on Jun 26, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

"And if Montgomery County's median income is below Fairfax and Loudoun Counties', that doesn't mean that Montgomery County's median income isn't high. It just means that Fairfax and Loudoun Counties' are even higher."

MoCo's median income is 95k. Greater Washington's is about 85k. Thats not a huge difference. Especially considering greater Washington extends to distant semi-rural places with significantly lower COL's.

MoCo is not really an affluent county within the regional context anymore. Its a middle class county. The notion that its an affluent county is somewhat outdated, and in a time when its struggling to compete with counties like FFX, LoCo, and even PWC, misperceiving that may lead to mistaken policy decisions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

"except that what I was trying to point out is that these are two sides of the same coin."

wanting to avoid the ostracized and be with the elite are two sides of the same coin only if you consider all non-ostracized to be elite.

Thats a profound misreading of the American class structure (just such a misreading as got Mitt Romney defeated, I would suggest). Not everyone who considers themselves "middle class" is so, but its nonetheless a real and important category (though it really contains several subgroups - both by income, and by education) and conflating them with the rich, or with the poor (depending on ones ideological preference) leads to misunderstanding.

Not every place with few poor is rich. Not every place with few rich is poor.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

@Gull

Everything comes from MCPS 2012-2013 (and 2002-2003)
">Schools at a Glance
.

The discrepancy in FARMS is because MCPS counts it in two different ways. One is the current FARMS rate (everyone who's on FARMS right now), and the other is the ever-FARMS rate (everyone who has now or ever received FARMS), which is what I refer to in this post. (Second paragraph: "have at one time received free or reduced lunch.")

Wheaton's student body has an ever-FARMS rate of 80%. That includes some kids who were on FARMS at one time, but aren't now. MCPS and other school systems often use ever-FARMS because it's a more reliable measure of income. For instance, the cutoff for FARMS for a family of 4 is an annual income of $42,000 a year. If one parent gets a raise and the household income rises to $43,000, they're no longer eligible, but not rich, either.

by dan reed! on Jun 26, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

dan

well then its my fault for the comparisons to FCPS - whose numbers are certainly current FARMS.

But it does seem that 20% or so of ever FARMS suggests a significant pop at B-CC who are either currently poor, OR whose hold on the middle class is tenuous.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

@AWITC: For some perspective: you are comparing the county with the tenth highest median household income in the US (Montgomery) to the counties with the highest (Loudoun), second-highest (Fairfax), and third-highest (Arlington).

by Miriam on Jun 26, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

Miriam

greater DC has high COL and high incomes. I do not consider national rankings to be all that meaningful in understanding class.

Charles County has the 11th highest household income in the USA. Do you consider Charle County to be rich?

PG County has the 69th highest. At 70k thats well above the national median income. Do you consider PG to be an affluent County.

Lets put it differently. MoCo is now only slightly higher income than Charles County. It has a lower income than Prince William, traditionally the poor step child of NoVa.

There is still some affluence in MoCo, but I fear not really enough to go around. Focusing on the problems of distribution and social equity WITHIN MoCo may lead to the kinds of mistaken political approaches that bedeviled politics in the District of Columbia back in the 1990s, when Ward 3 was seen as the enemy.

And again, its FFX and LoCo that MoCo is competing with - NOT hundreds of rural counties across the USA.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 26, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

I'm confused about the Virginia FARMS numbers being cited here as well. The numbers available on the VSBE site (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/nutrition/statistics/index.shtml) are all higher than the numbers here.

by alex on Jun 26, 2013 5:23 pm • linkreport

That should of course be VDOE, not VSBE. Elections on my mind too much these days...

by alex on Jun 26, 2013 5:25 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity wanting to avoid the ostracized and be with the elite are two sides of the same coin only if you consider all non-ostracized to be elite.

Uh, I have no idea what you are talking about here. Maybe you are hung up on the coin metaphor; I didn't mean a real "coin". But if you can't get past that, look at a coin closely. Notice how there is some stuff between the heads and tails? Work with that.

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 5:26 pm • linkreport

@ drumz "read the link he posted. It outlines how the notion of a "model minority" like asian americans can be problematic as well."

I glanced at it but it seemed to be caught up in some wacky conspiracy theory about Asians being pawns in the service of white hegemony.

by Chris S. on Jun 26, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

@Chris S.

Wow. I am right here and you can't even talk to me, and you GLANCED at that link to a scholarly review of a research paper and thought it was a conspiracy theory?

Does anyone on this blog even stop to think before they reply?

You know what, this is just the last straw on this echo chamber of stupidity. Bye folks.

by Alger on Jun 26, 2013 5:45 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity Re: "MoCo is not really an affluent county within the regional context anymore. Its a middle class county."

It's per capita income was 17th in 2010 (slightly above Fairfax I believe). 7 of the DC area's 11 billionaires live there. I think the owners of all the major DC sports teams live there.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/dc-richest_n_2811927.html

There are no such things as affluent counties of one million people. There are pockets like Great Falls, VA, Potomac, and NW DC.

by Tom on Jun 26, 2013 6:17 pm • linkreport

MoCo's demographic changes have been evident for a long time. Magnet programs were the first effort to mitigate this and that was back in the 80s, along with later tinkering with boundaries for B-CC and other schools. Over time, that kind of thing has become less practical. MoCo's changes are not unlike a lot of suburban communities--much of the mass post-WWII areas have gradually changed and become less white, if not always less affluent. People who grew-up in those places often wanted bigger houses and yards and used to be able to afford them. Even in affluent places like some of the suburbs of LA, the schools retain their rep, but white flight has happened, although the immigrants there have been Asian. MoCO's vaunted liberal reputation has never been any deeper than anywhere else. As for the schools--I went to grad school with products of MoCo's best high schools, and my PhD advisor was a grad. Frankly, I was never that impressed and when I taught grads of MoCo schools, name brand and otherwise, I also wasn't impressed. People from DC tend to be more impressed with supposed knowledge that comes from living here and the reputation of their communities as opposed to real life experience. It's evident in grads of other districts as well and i one reason I'd think twice about raising a children here.

by Rich on Jun 26, 2013 6:26 pm • linkreport

@ Rich "Frankly, I was never that impressed and when I taught grads of MoCo schools, name brand and otherwise, I also wasn't impressed. People from DC tend to be more impressed with supposed knowledge that comes from living here and the reputation of their communities as opposed to real life experience. It's evident in grads of other districts as well and i one reason I'd think twice about raising a children here."

Sorry there aren't enough local Rhodes Scholars to stimulate your future progeny.

by Chris S. on Jun 26, 2013 6:39 pm • linkreport

..hmm- I've observed that a commenter who says s/he is interested in open respectful discussion nonetheless uses inflammatory language directed at individuals with the seeming intent to be derogatory, then accuses others of this behavior. These are classic examples of how to shut down the very type of discussion the commenter says s/he wants. Interesting!

by Tina on Jun 26, 2013 6:39 pm • linkreport

@Rich-People from DC tend to be more impressed with supposed knowledge that comes from living here and the reputation of their communities as opposed to real life experience.

This is a description of snobbery. Ascribing this type of snobbery to an entire cohort of people based on the geographic location of their childhood seems like the same kind of snobbery.

by Tina on Jun 26, 2013 6:51 pm • linkreport

I think its important to determine to what extend this is due to new arrivals in the east part of MoCo.

If you come from other places, its more likely than not that you will not be able to afford anywhere except East MoCo. Its also more likely that you would have not had the same excellent elementary and middle school education. This problem requires a different solution than if the problem was strictly one of relative poverty.

Another point is that the West County Schools will always be unusually successful, because the parents are unusually educated and successful (e.g more graduate degrees per capita than anywhere in USA). Lets not focus on the divide, but what can be done to help the education of East County kids.

by SJE on Jun 26, 2013 7:24 pm • linkreport

It's always dangerous to equate a lack of diversity with segregation. (Poor) Kids certainly do better in a mixed environment, but rather than breaking up a school's role as a neighborhood center, we ought to be zoning for mixed income communities to promote diversity, and not racial but economic diversity.
And as good as school diversity is, it's not essential to produce well functioning kids. After all, humans will find differences in even the most "homogeneous" populations.
Western montgomery county became wealthier as more people move into the area. Rich or poor, these new residents moved into areas they could afford/liked so it shouldn't be surprising that some areas became less diverse while others have become more.
That being said, the county should do more to ensure a rich mixture of housing types and mpdu minimums through zoning incentives to promote economic diversity. Humans self segregate for a veriety of reasons, but it dosen't help if we characterize our school administrators as intentionally "ghettoizing" our schools.

by Thayer-D on Jun 26, 2013 9:47 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church: The reason Wheaton doesn't offer as many AP classes as Whitman is that there are not sufficient numbers of students at Wheaton who want to take a class like AP Physics (that's a hypothetical...I don't know whether Wheaton actually offers AP Physics). For those students, the county should open up an AP Physics class at Wheaton even if there are only a handful of students who would take the class.

Wheaton offers AP Physics.

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/wheatonhs/departments/science/

by Miriam on Jun 27, 2013 7:07 am • linkreport

Concentrated disadvantages are never good. I have a sibling that has been house hunting and it was very clear to her that these test scores resulted in hundreads of dollars difference in price. Essentially well off, upper middle class parents are choosing to concentrate themselves in parts of Mont County. This is not new and has been happening all over the country, what we are "chosing to do for the benefit of our kids." ultimately is going to result in economically and socially segregated communities, not the social norm I personally want to hand to my kids for their future. Frankly not sure how it can be reversed without a significant reconsideration of the winner take all, must push my kid forward culture.

by DC Parent on Jun 27, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Dan, I really like your blog but your premise that you somehow need white/wealthy kids present to then attract the best teaching talent is flawed. I am not seeing the critical performance data for the high schools cited in your analysis. I just see macro charts that show where there are more FARMS there are less white people and this is somehow connected to higher dropout rates and bad math score.

Yes real estate in MoCo can be very expensive. Yes people like to live near other people who match the income level that belong to (or aspire to be). The core public service of MCPS is to provide free public education for all. That being said there are a plethora of other obligations we ask of our public schools that are mandated by law such as: FARMS, Language for non-English speakers, the whole overcrowding it takes 5 years to build a new school mess, and of course what I think is really vexing you the implication that the schools are somehow responsible for ensuring diversity and equal access to quality education. Schools are relatively geographically centralized within the county to serve the kids mostly nearby. Thankfully we do not suffer from the absurd gerrymandering we tolerate for our political representation. So any real estate person would tell you it is location, location, location (and the schools with the residential real estate within a school boundary are no different). There is no question that for the premium that some are willing to pay over and above for their house they could have chosen a less expensive house and used the "savings" to pay for private school. By they don't. Why? Because people have faith that when school boundaries are decided that not just geography but diversity (all elements) are considered a critical part of the calculation. Thus the second part missing from your presentation the performance of the substantially balanced schools such as Richard Montgomery. Here is a school that is very diverse and also very academically competitive.

Although it is now becoming vogue to do detailed cost-benefit analysis for college we have to recognize people having been doing the same for K through 12 for years. Buy a house (or rent) in the best school system you can afford. Rather that subscribing to the proportion of white/wealthy/or FARM students instead focus on more data about performance and the culture of excellence that the schools in that cluster meet and exceed. Then consider some introspection and ask what is required for academic excellence to occur: good teachers, good facilities, engaged parents, kids not hungry, mitigating challenges with English as 2nd language. Some of this is in the mandated extended scope of MCPS (and some is not). So people will continue to vote with their feet.

Finally although you label the "W" schools as white the basic demographics do not suggest they are homogeneous. The proportion of Asians (which is like saying North Americans!) is substantial. I am kind of insulted with the label. I would suggest you tag them as "wealthy".

by armchairquarterback on Jun 27, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

"It's per capita income was 17th in 2010 (slightly above Fairfax I believe)."

Per capita income in DC was higher than in MoCo or FFX. Places with high numbers of singles tend to have higher per capita incomes than places with lots of families. Determining which places are truely "affluent" is difficult, is it not?

" 7 of the DC area's 11 billionaires live there. I think the owners of all the major DC sports teams live there."

Interesting factoid, but it does not really speak to A whether the non-FARMS eligible families are B-CC and Whitman are rich people trying to stay with rich people or B. The relative economic strength of MoCo in the region.

"There are no such things as affluent counties of one million people. There are pockets like Great Falls, VA, Potomac, and NW DC."

I would generally agree with that. I think (and here I do not have data handy) that MoCo has been suffering some decline relative to other close in suburban counties, and relative to DC, over the last couple of decades.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 27, 2013 10:11 am • linkreport

@armchairquarterback

Obviously there are a lot of bigger issues than I can tackle in a single post (or for that matter, in four posts, which is what this series will eventually entail). And I'll talk about solutions later on as well. I never said that we should redraw all of the school boundaries. But there is evidence that students in schools with a truly diverse student body (economically and in race/ethnicity) do better than others, especially in high-poverty schools. RM is a good example of that, and generally so is Blair. If that's what it takes to give kids a better education, than YES, by all means MCPS is required to make their schools more diverse.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that teachers who have a choice (and in MCPS, many do) between teaching in a high-poverty school and a low-poverty school would go for the low-poverty school. It's not because the teachers are prejudiced or don't believe in the kids enough, but the low-poverty school is probably an easier place to teach, because they don't have to deal with hungry kids or disengaged parents or any of that.

Part of the answer is housing and land use policy, so schools can serve a diverse swath of kids in their own backyard. However, part of the answer does involve school boundaries, choice, magnets, etc. But I'll get to that next week. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

by dan reed! on Jun 27, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

Does MCPS offer incentives for teachers to work at high-poverty schools? If not, then teaching talent will definitely filter towards the better schools.

by MLD on Jun 27, 2013 10:20 am • linkreport

MCPS has some very good policies to make sure good teachers and public resources end up in all schools. This balances out some of the income issues. That said, there are things MCPS cannot do. PTA fundraising at a richer school will bring in more money and more extra resources. Families with flexible vacation days and the ability to take a day or two off without hurting income needed for sustenance are more likely to attend special events at the schools, chaperone field trips, etc. Schools with more wealthy single-income families will also have more parents willing to volunteer time around the school for many large and small events. Kids with special needs that the school can't completely address are more likely to receive added professional support outside of school, if their parents can afford it. No matter how equally great the teachers are across the district, all these factors affect the education environment of the school

by Dan (not Reed!) on Jun 27, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

Thanks for a detailed and provocative analysis Dan. It clearly illuminates MCPS' diversity and how a cluster’s affluence is in lock-step with its ethnic and testing metrics. I completely agree with your statement that “[lower performing schools] often lack access to amenities like early education that can't be made up at school, especially when that school is dominated by kids with the same needs.”

But I think the problem is deeper than just having access to amenities. Schools that have the lowest test scores also have kids with the highest rates of FARMS, highest ESOL (English is not the primary language) and the highest mobility rates (kids moving into and out of the system – high numbers of renters). School is tough. For these kids, it’s even tougher. Most students in the more affluent clusters (Whitman, etc) don’t have language barriers, don’t worry about what when they’ll have a decent meal, and have parents who are homeowners (stable, not constantly moving).

Remedies to close the gap are complex. When possible, MCPS defines school boundaries to help, but geography makes this a very limited tool. If you haven’t already, take a look at the planning section of MCPS’ Master Plan – this has a trove of data and analysis consistent with this discussion. MCPS is fully aware of these trends and has strategies to help close the gaps. I can’t speak for the effectiveness of these strategies, but it’s obvious they are working to close the gaps. MCPS does a lot – much more than will fit in a comment here.

by Bruce Lemieux on Jun 27, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

@Dan - you reference RM and Blair as high-poverty schools that perform well. The test results for both of these schools are pushed up by the county-wide magnet programs which attract the highest-performing kids from other clusters in the county. There's no way (to my knowledge) of getting stats that split out magnet vs. the regular population. Poolesville's results are also inflated by their magnet program.

by Bruce Lemieux on Jun 27, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

@Bruce

Thanks for your kind words - and also for you and your wife's excellent research of home sales in each of the MCPS clusters. I'd be curious to see how home prices have changed over time in each of the clusters as well.

Over the next few posts (one of which will be this afternoon) I'm going to talk about some of the things MCPS has done, and ways I think they could do it better or differently.

by dan reed! on Jun 27, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

I think your downplaying the affluence of Montgomery. It's the 10th wealthiest (in terms of household median income) out of 3,143 counties in the country (in the top 0.003%), and the 2nd wealthiest in the wealthiest state (MD). Bethesda and Potomac are also two of the top 10 wealthiest cdp's in the nation. Median income accounts for income spread and isn't skewed by a few very wealthy/poor outliers.

Yeah, "poverty" in the DC region in general has a different definition of "poverty" in other areas, but the fact of the matter is that the county is very well off (even after adjusting for high cost-of-living, which itself is driven by high salaries). Yeah, homes are more expensive here, but things such as cars and college educations cost the same as anywhere else.

by K Street on Jun 27, 2013 9:13 pm • linkreport

@DanReed

I went to Blake as well. I agree that it was a very diverse school during my time(2004-2008), and my honors and AP classes included many minority students. I think the significant increase in FARMS recipients is after my time though. Blake became the toughest NE Consortium school to get into and more kids started busing in from further away. It was minority-majority when I was there and not a school of super-rich kids, but not 50% low-income either.

by Chris on Jun 28, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

But this is exactly how our national education system was designed to work. If we want it to work differently, the answer--as the courts and everyone else understood as early as the 70s--is desegregation busing.

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

FWIW, the story of PG County's desegregation plan during the 70s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desegregation_busing#Prince_George.27s_County.2C_Maryland

by oboe on Jun 28, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

I attended middle school in the Wheaton cluster and high school at Richard Montgomery, graduating a couple years ago. The teacher quality was no different, even while the level of poverty and minority students differed. Ultimately, the real difference was with the in-school segregation between higher achievement students and others. Even at lower performing schools in MCPS, there are a healthy number dedicated students and solid teachers to support them. This will not change, no matter how students living in poverty are arranged. It did not seem to me that the lower-achieving students were inspired significantly by their higher achieving classmates. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with parents, because the school system can only do so much. Currently at university, I realized right away how much better my MCPS education was than students from other areas, both within and outside of Maryland. MCPS isn't perfect but still a high quality school system.

by superanonymousdude on Jun 28, 2013 6:58 pm • linkreport

We came from another country and bought a home in Bethesda that was (i) close to our downtown DC World Bank and IMF jobs and (ii) had good schools/extracurriculars/IB program.
Is the author saying we should have bought 5-10km out further in order to send our children to a school with low-performing, socio-economic diverse students from single mother or non-English speaking households?
Or is the county going to be the first in the country to suddenly switch from neighborhood schools to who-knows-what school in this extra large county? Even manhattan doesn't do that, kids must take serious placement tests to earn a spot at a specific (competitive) public high school.

by Sinem on Jun 28, 2013 8:33 pm • linkreport

If the end result is that the economically and socially-protected white graduates from the W's enter the political circles to hand opportunities from white graduates of the NE/DC consortiums to minority graduates of the NE/DC consortiums, what gain have we really made?
The rich white liberals purify their own racial class and keep their human zoos open to make them feel multi-cultural. Who wants that?

by Pat on Jun 29, 2013 5:53 am • linkreport

This sounds like a court chalange waiting to happen. The two consortiams in the east are clearly ineffective and probably illegal as constructed. While they are school "choice," the pool of students being drawn from is overwhelmingly minority and lower class while the white higher class parents and students are protected. Sadly the legal firepower is no doubt on the side of the mostly white westerners. But someone needs to call out MCPS in court for their current zoning, which is borderline de jure. Protecting the white folks from integration and giving minorities the illusion of choice. I think its reasonable to ask that MCPS either have "choice" countywide or not at all. But the current setup only reinforces the residential patterns.

by Mike on Jul 1, 2013 7:47 pm • linkreport

It's not as if lower income students are inherently inferior? Really? lol, you are kidding yourself. They are almost by definition inferior. Their parents generally have a low income due to lack of education. Their parents therefore do not have the skills and experience to show them how to be successful in school. You could bus the entire student body of Wheaton over to Wooton over and student performance wouldn't change at all. It's not the teachers or the buildings, it's the STUDENTS.

If we want make progress on education we need to at least start from an honest place. The question I'd like answered is what percentage of these loser spawn can my kid go to school with before the they start being dragged down? At what point are they going to start getting peer pressured into making poor life decisions by other kids who are following their parents example of making poor life decisions? At one point are we going to have to slow down the curriculum for my kid because students who get no support or education from their parents can't keep up?

It's not about race either, I'd be happy to have my children attend school with the children of other educated, hard working, non-felon's; regardless of what continent their ancestors came from. Equally I would prefer to not have my child surrounded by the children of lazy, high school drop-out, criminals; race be damned. Yeah, I get it that most of the white people in MoCo are in the former category rather than the latter but that's not actually due to them being white so why are you using race as a measuring stick? It's not the most accurate thing to be using and by using it you are promoting racial divisiveness and stereotypes.

by Doug on Jul 8, 2013 2:47 am • linkreport

1) There is an awful lot of talk on here of the perception of "whites not wanting to send their kids to non-white schools". Lets understand something. If you live in a BCC, Whitman or Churchill cluster you CAN'T just go to any school unless you can give a compelling reason (i.e. magnet). Conversely a Down County Consortium student can't go outside of the consortium for the same reason. So I ask everyone leaving those silly posts, if you had money to live in the Whitman or Churchill area why would you live in the Kennedy or Wheaton area? Secondly why would I WANT to go outside any of the richer "white" clusters anyway since their schools are better. I might be disappointed in the lack of diversity but, as a parent, good education trumps diversity every time as far as I am concerned.
2) I want to echo and add to the comment of "Doug on Jul 8, 2013 2:47". What do you really expect out of a school system? You have to compare and contrast the families these students (poor vs rich schools) are coming from. How many families are single parent homes? How many parents have a college education? How many parents have a criminal record? How many parents are involved in their school (i.e. volunteer)? Aside from just poor, you will find a lot of the poorer kids from homes that are single parents, non-college educated, non-involved, with a greater chance of parents that have a history of drug use and/or prevalent alcohol use. It's not scientific. All of those things will impact on the kids home life and general attitude. You are not going to overcome all of that!

by Chris on Jul 16, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

Would someone please state fully and plainly, for newcomers to the county like me, the rationale behind the configuration of our consortiums?

by Dave Anderson on Jul 29, 2013 10:12 pm • linkreport

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