Greater Greater Washington

Education


Montgomery schools can't coast on their good reputation

A Montgomery County school board member once told me, "There are no bad schools in Montgomery County." This is sort of true, but so stellar a reputation often distracts people from the real problems Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) faces, such as a persistent achievement gap, de facto segregation by class and race, and suggestions of middle-class flight.


Photo by the author.

To tackle these difficult problems, families, community leaders, and school administrators need to face a hard truth: MCPS just isn't so great anymore.

In the past 20 years, MCPS has gone from being a predominantly white, middle-class system to one that's majority-minority and much more disadvantaged. Today, there are more Montgomery students who receive free or reduced-price lunches than there are students in the D.C. Public Schools.

But these changes have not been distributed equally through the county. Minority and low-income students are increasingly concentrated in Montgomery's east and north. Meanwhile, its vaunted "W high schools"Wootton, Whitman, Walter Johnson, and Winston Churchillhave experienced little change or, in some cases, have become whiter and richer.

As a result, MCPS is increasingly segregated by class, race, and academic performance. There remains a substantial achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and white and Asian students. Many of the county's high school students failed their final math exams last year, but few of those failures occurred at the "W schools." Instead, they were concentrated at schools such as Gaithersburg, Springbrook, or Wheaton, which face problems akin to those in urban schools and lag far behind their wealthier counterparts.

Continue reading my first op-ed in the Washington Post! I'm glad to be contributing to their All Opinions Are Local section, and you can find this column in the paper's print edition on Sunday.

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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I agree with your recognition of the problem, but I don't agree with one of your solutions of changing boundaries. If you go too far, the parents of kids in the wealthy districts will take their kids out of the MCPS system either by moving to Howard Co or Northern VA, or go into private school. MCPS will be worse off and even more segregated. I spent a decade in Baltimore, and in my neighborhood there were the very poor, with kids in public school, the very wealthy with kids in private school, and a big gap in the middle because everyone of middle income left when their kids got to 6 years old. The rich kids and the poor kids might as well lived in different cities. This is why I left to MoCo, where I can get a decent education, with rich and poor together.

by SJE on Sep 7, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

SJE's comment is spot on

by mjw on Sep 7, 2013 11:00 pm • linkreport

More to the point, this problem is the result of not mixing housing types in all areas. Lower, western MoCo tends to be larger lots, pricier homes... and very limited moderate/affordable housing. Upper, eastern MoCo tends to be recently-built planned communities with more affordability. (Some of those 'planned' communities have their own issues!) But HOUSING is driving this and it will take time & GOOD planning to do better blending.

by diana on Sep 8, 2013 9:32 am • linkreport

Part of the problem lies not with the MoCo school system but with the County itself. I live in upper Silver Spring. Other than having the two best movie theaters in the County (for the moment, Montgomery Mall's new movie theater is arriving soon), what do we have to make our part of the county "livable"? I have to drive 25 minutes to get to a Wegman's and it's in Howard County, while there is now a Wegman's in Germantown. We just got a Costco and it is crowded and poorly run but there's a nice one in Columbia. The restaurants in our area that aren't chains are rarely worth the money while Bethesda and Rockville thrive. You want to go to a mall? There's Montgomery Mall, 30 minutes away while City Place has been worthless for years. You want to walk around a shopping area at night? There's Downtown Silver Spring but on a Friday or Saturday night you don't feel as safe as you do in Bethesda. Georgia Avenue in DTSS could be nice but it is poorly lit and it feels cut off from the rest of DTSS. How about a outdoor shopping center? There are several in Rockville but have you seen Burtonsville of late? And as for Metro: to get to Glenmont means $1.10 more each rush hour fare for 50% of the trains.

The point is that if a friend wanted to move to Maryland, I wouldn't recommend any of the areas near the "W" schools and that's without considering the quality of the schools. The leadership of our County must work to make all parts of the County livable. This will result in better schools for all of Montgomery County.

by FS1 on Sep 8, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

This will continue to be the case as long as parents treat education as a zero-sum game. The Washington DC metro area fetishizes being smart over any other ethical or social prerogative. The rich/poor gap & disappearing middle has to be your starting point. Education is just the lagging indicator.

by DC Parent on Sep 8, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

Dan: How does East MoCo MCPS compare to DC, PG county? IIRC, african american, hispanic and other immigrants get better scores in MoCo than PG, DC or Fairfax. This suggests MoCo is doing a pretty good job. As a parent of three in an economically and ethnically mixed Silver Spring neighborhood, I just want a good education for my kids. I can't afford to live in the W school districts, but don't begrudge them their fancy facilities as long my kids are not suffering.

by SJE on Sep 8, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

I agree with SJE and Diana. You can't rejigger everything into a social ideal unless you're willing to get rid of other ideals like walkable neighborhood schools and the like. On the otherhand, while DC is becoming whiter, it's also becoming grayer. Blacks, whites and everyone in between are increasingly mixing both in DC and outside of it. Sure some areas becomeing whiter or browner, but that's more about the benjamin's than amount of melenin. Also, one shouldn't discount gentrifying areas around Silver Spring and Takoma Park who's schools are multi-racial, multi-class, and international. This is supposed to be the future, yet it exists right now.

Diana's right in that the planning plays a role in economic segregation that in DC have long had a racial component. The more we plan and build for transit oriented pedestrian communities with a healthy mix of housing types, the more we create communities that promote socialization. The more we promote socialization, the more varying social classes and their expectations become cross fertalized, and as everyone knows, smarts=benjamins.

And the market seems to have noticed with even traditionally upperclass areas like Potomac switching with intown Bethesda neighborhoods for top billing. Or compare formally solid middle class suburbs in Wheaton of the 1970's becoming brown while brown neighborhoods around metro accessible Silver Spring and Takoma Park absorbing thier share of DC hipsters, who tend to be white.

While more suburban (automobile) parts of the county are becoming more brown, urban (pedestrian) parts of the county are becoming whitter. But again, it's worth noting tyhat demographics are a fluid and everchanging thing. As long as we continue to promote healthy walkable comminities with a good mix of housing types, we will counteract the isolation and ignorance that any kind of segregation tends to foster.

by Thayer-D on Sep 8, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

This is interesting because I grew up in Montgomery County, MD. I grew up in Rockville and actually lived one block east of the dividing line between Walter Johnson and Wheaton. I was supposed to go to Wheaton High School, but my parents successfully were able to get me to attend Walter Johnson. They had gotten me into Luxmanor and Tilden successfully.

But there was no way they were going to have me attend any of the schools that fed into Wheaton or Wheaton High School itself. By the 1990s it was clear that Wheaton and those areas were going downhill. It was quite a shame because I remember going to Wheaton Plaza in the 1980s and early 1990s and it was nice.

But, even by the early 1990s, Wheaton High School already had a bad reputation. There were gangs, low test schools, and kids who were just bad influences. And my parents didn't want me to be in a school like that.

Granted, while Wheaton has faced hard times, it's not as bad as Wards 7 and 8 either. There are some pockets that are pretty bad, but other nicer areas as well. It's literally a block-by-block or neighborhood by neighborhood situation. And there do seem to be some nicer apartments coming in right by the Metro there.

I don't think that the middle-class and rich object to having lower income children in their schools per se. What they really object to, as even many lower-income parents do, are the problems that inevitably come with them. I'm talking about disruptive students, gang members, drug users, students who are chronically truant, and students who are significantly behind. Those students, who don't have responsible parents at home, can significantly ruin the learning experience for everyone else.

I do agree with the poster who said that, if you put too many lower-income children in a school like Walter Johnson, the rich will almost certainly send their kids to Georgetown Prep, Landon, and other private schools. Even many middle-class parents, for whom private school would bring them to the brink of bankruptcy, would do that.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

Yes, the neighborhoods themselves have a lot to do with it. That's why in this column I call for more economic development in East County to encourage middle- and higher-income families to stick around. And that's why my list of recommendations for creating integrated schools include things that both MCPS and the county can do.

@Rain17

People are already fleeing to private schools in some areas. The status quo isn't working as it is, and it'll only get worse if we aren't willing to make actual changes. I'm willing to risk that a few families in Bethesda leave MCPS if more families in East County feel like they can stay.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

Dan: there is a chicken or egg problem. Wealthier people will not move to East MoCo if they think that they will not get good schools, and will freak out if they think that they will be rezoned from an OK school to a bad school. I don't see that this is going to be much helped by "economic development": where you do work and where you live are not synonymous, especially in this area.

by SJE on Sep 8, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

That's why we have to do all three. We need economic development, we need extra investment in struggling schools, and we do need to adjust boundaries in some places as well. These things don't exist in a vacuum, and understanding that all three are connected is important if we're actually going to provide a better education for everyone.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

Dan, can you honestly blame them? I don't. Again I don't think it's the fact that they are opposed to having lower-income children in their schools. It's the inevitable problems that come with having them that concern them. Inevitably, when you have a lower-income school, you have kids who generally are more likely to:

1) Be significantly behind academically and require significant remediation to catch up to their counterparts.
2) Be in broken or single-parent homes (and yes there are single parents who do a great job raising their children), where there isn't any discipline.
3) Be in homes where the parents either don't care about their children's education or are poorly-equipped to handle their children's educational needs.
4) Be truant all the time.
5) Disruptive when they are in school.
6) Bring drugs and gangs to their school.

There are complicated sociological reasons why lower-income children have these problems, but I don't fault parents who try to ensure that their children stay far away from these kids. I concede that not all of them are like that, but enough of them are that it becomes a legitimate concern.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

You know what? We live in a diverse, heterogeneous society, and at some point, everyone's going to have to deal with people who are different than you. My parents valued giving my brother an education in a diverse school that reflected the community we live in, but in many East County schools, that's not an option anymore because middle-class families are leaving.

And I don't blame them. But if you read my column, I make it clear that MCPS needs to make a case for why those families should come back, because we need them there. However, that doesn't mean promising them that their kids won't have to rub elbows with kids of lesser means. It's a lot easier for teachers and administrators to give all students of all backgrounds the help they need when they aren't overwhelmed with kids who need a lot of help and attention (i.e., disadvantaged kids).

I understand these ideas aren't popular, or that everyone hasn't come around to them yet. But I don't see another solution that ensure a higher level of education for everyone, not just families like yours who can opt out.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 5:08 pm • linkreport

The Washington DC metro area fetishizes being smart over any other ethical or social prerogative

The specific topic is schools, and the nature of a school is that academic and intellectual issues/achievement are going to be the focus and prioritized over other, non-school-related issues.

I cannot possibly imagine why patents would choose schools or have expectations about schools that prioritized on other matters.

by Tyro on Sep 8, 2013 5:23 pm • linkreport

Dan: The commenters here are not worried about the kids being of lesser means, or a different color. Heck, MoCo is full of people with graduate degrees working for nonprofits and the government, and not exactly raking it in. I think most people also want diversity of background, wealth, etc. But people are not willing to put up with violence, drugs, or anything that affects their kids' education. A class where too many people in the class are way behind their own kids is a negative for their own kids education.

You don't blame middle class parents for leaving East MoCo, but then you advocate policies that worry the same parents, like zoning. Frankly, if I was zoned into a problem school district, I would move. If MoCo is too willing to mess with my kids' education, I might not only leave my current area, but MoCo entirely.

Basically, East County could improve, but its better than e.g. PGC. Its better than PGC because MoCo has the money. The money comes from the West side. Be careful of killing the goose that lays the Golden eggs. I do. And, yeah, it sucks when my son's friends from Chevy Chase can't believe we live in such a small house, and ask where the rest of the house in. But I suck it up because I know that their parents money is what keeps the after school activities so good.

by SJE on Sep 8, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

DC parent
MoCo is full of highly educated people, and has the highest per capita level of graduate degrees in the USA. Its not surprising that those parents "fetishize" education. That is why I, and fellow geeks and nerds, moved to a place that caters to our fetish. If I had a fetish for a big house, PGC. If I fetishized beards, tats and riding a fixie, I would move to Capitol Hill.

by SJE on Sep 8, 2013 5:41 pm • linkreport

Dan, I don't think it's the fact that they are poor that is driving them away. As I said it's the behavior problems associated with that population that is driving them away. I'll be straight up with you. If I had children I wouldn't send them to a school where the majority of the students were disruptive, in gangs, doing drugs, and significantly behind most of their counterparts in learning.

I think that, if MCPS wants those families to come back, what they're going to have to do is:

1) Convince them that the school is safe. Again, although not every lower-income child is like this, you are likely to have more children who are involved in gangs and other unsafe activities.
2) Show them that the school maintains strict discipline and that they don't allow disruptive and violent students to negatively affect the learning environment.
3) Show them that there are great educational opportunities for their children.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 5:58 pm • linkreport

@Rain17

Who would willingly put their kids in the kind of school environment you're describing? Nobody. But when people who have the choice to leave do, that makes it worse for everyone else.

I totally agree with what you're saying, and I agree with your suggestions. MCPS has to do those three things (among others) if wants to bring middle-class families back. I don't think we have a disagreement here.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 6:11 pm • linkreport

Dan, I also think the other concern is that, as more lower income students come in, an influx of students who are significantly behind their peers in basic reading, writing, and math skills will inundate the schools. As a result the school will have to expend an inordinate amount of resources getting those children caught up. In the process those who are gifted or at grade level will suffer.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 6:22 pm • linkreport

@Rain17

MCPS breaks out the academic performance of its students by race and whether they're on reduced lunch. If you look at how white kids perform on different tests at Wheaton High School, where they're a very small minority, they actually do as well as their counterparts at Walter Johnson, where they're in the majority. But kids of all races, and kids on reduced lunch, do dramatically better at WJ than they do at Wheaton.

Disadvantaged kids need extra help, yes. But giving them the extra help they need at school isn't going to pull down everyone else, especially middle-class kids who have access to things outside of school (engaged parents, tutors, internet at home, etc.) that many of their poorer counterparts don't.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 6:37 pm • linkreport

Dan, the challenge is to convince parents of that. The challenge that MCPS has with those parents in the eastern part of the county is that, despite the influx of lower-income children, the schools are still safe; disruptive, violent, truant students receive swift punishment and removal from the classroom; and that there are still compelling educational opportunities for their children. That is the burden that they have to meet.

I almost had to go to Wheaton, but MCPS thankfully let me go to Walter Johnson. Had I had to attend Wheaton my parents, even if it drove them to financial ruination, were going to send me to private school. There was no way I was going to attend Wheaton, which had gang problems.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 7:06 pm • linkreport

@Rain17

So, again, I totally agree with you. That's why I said MCPS needs to make a case for itself.

MCPS also has to deal with the perception issue. Folks in the W schools (or B-CC, or Sherwood, etc.) tend to think East County schools are all gang-ridden and awful, when it's much more complicated than that. Are there problems? Yes? Do we lag the W schools on most measures of academic performance? Totally.

But my brother is now a freshman at an East County high school (not Wheaton) and while the school has its issues and my parents had some serious misgivings about sending him there, we also understand it's still a good enough school, and our family has the resources to support him no matter what happens.

Maybe there are gangs, but there are gangs at most if not all MCPS schools. There were gangs at Blake, where I went. And I turned out okay. I'm confident my brother will as well.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 7:17 pm • linkreport

But kids of all races, and kids on reduced lunch, do dramatically better at WJ than they do at Wheaton.

Middle class parents are willing to send their kids to a wealthy school with poor students in it. They're not willing to send their kids to a poor school with some middle class students in it. The culture of the W's is one in which the focus is on supporting the performance of the top students, with support for others. Are the east county schools ready to make the academic needs of middle class and upper middle class students a priority, or is the attitude going to be one where the good academic performers are expected to provide "support" for the rest of the school which is focused on remediation and dealing with maintaining order?

by Tyro on Sep 8, 2013 7:25 pm • linkreport

Dan, you write:

"But my brother is now a freshman at an East County high school (not Wheaton) and while the school has its issues and my parents had some serious misgivings about sending him there, we also understand it's still a good enough school, and our family has the resources to support him no matter what happens."

But "good enough" isn't what most parents want with all due respect. They want "the best" or "top-performing". They don't want a school that's just average. So I don't fault parents for not wanting to send their children to a school that is just "average" to achieve some social engineering or some other lofty political goal.

"Maybe there are gangs, but there are gangs at most if not all MCPS schools. There were gangs at Blake, where I went. And I turned out okay. I'm confident my brother will as well."

But saying that isn't going to convince upper middle-class or affluent parents to send their children there. My parents were NOT going to send me to Wheaton just to be at a "good enough" school. And yes, believe me, you were right that there were kids with problems at BCC, Walter Johnson, Whitman, and Wooton. But I never really felt unsafe there the way I would have at Wheaton.

But what I will say is that, at BCC and the W-named schools, there is no question that most of the students there are going to college. At the Eastern schools there doesn't seem to be that emphasis either.

by Rain17 on Sep 8, 2013 7:45 pm • linkreport

The thing is, this is written as if MCPS hasn't already been focused on the problem you identify, for more than 10 years, and while you're right that they can't rest on their laurels, they are a national best practice example, at least at the younger grades, of focusing on Title I schools. It does seem as if Supt. Starr maybe thinks that those programs weren't enough, but it's unclear as if he is equally committed.

cf. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/02/20/24zones.h27.html

by Richard Layman on Sep 8, 2013 7:54 pm • linkreport

Okay, this conversation is over. Like I said, I totally agree with you about needing to make families feel comfortable with East County schools. But your fears about what may or may not have happened to you at a school you didn't attend indicate just how much work needs to be done in convincing families that MCPS is a good choice for them.

I went to an East County high school, and the expectation was that I and most of my peers were going to college. And most of us did. Our teachers set high standards and pushed us to meet them. I had great teachers, and my peers and I knew we could go toe-to-toe with any kid at any school in the county.

Perhaps that culture has changed since I graduated 8 years ago, but even today 90% of Wheaton seniors say they plan to attend college or some sort of training.

@Richard Layman

MCPS certainly does a lot of good work (though Dr. Weast's landmark Red Zone/Green Zone concept doesn't get much attention anymore.) But they can do it because the school system has a base of middle- and high-income families, which is why keeping them (and making sure they're attracted to every school) is so important.

by dan reed! on Sep 8, 2013 8:22 pm • linkreport

One point that isn't addressed is the segregation that is already present within most schools. The "W" school I graduated from not too long ago is 20% black or Hispanic: one out of five students. But in my experience, there were very, very few black or Hispanic students in any of my classes. While I and many of the kids from my neighborhood were all in honors or AP classes, most of the black and Hispanic students were in "regular" courses or in the school's special education program.

If boundaries change and wealthy parents don't pull their kids out (and many will), you'll still have a situation where you basically have two schools even if they're located in the same building.

by Adam L on Sep 8, 2013 9:10 pm • linkreport

Can someone please explain to me why "race and class segregation" in schools is a problem? Logically it appears to be self-defeating. If you're saying that segregation itself is creating the achievement gap, then you're recognizing that the issue is with the students and not with the schools. No, I'm not trying to be snarky, I honestly don't get it. How would forcing tech-level and AP/IB-level students into the same classes accomplish anything other than hindering the development of the more capable students? Most children do not perform poorly at school because they're dumb, they perform poorly because they're not raised in a household/environment that values education. And if they were, they'd be in a better school/class in the first place.

In all honesty, there's almost nothing wrong with the education system. The problems are societal, and the kids bring that screwed-up-ness to school with them.

We need to outgrow this naive notion that all students should get the same quality of education and should all perform the same on standardized tests etc.. Life is not fair or equal, and education is no exception. The only thing you're entitled to as an American citizen is the right to attempt to gain a good education through competitiveness. You are not entitled to be handed a good education on a silver platter just by moving to MoCo.

by AP on Sep 8, 2013 10:51 pm • linkreport

The only thing you're entitled to as an American citizen is the right to attempt to gain a good education through competitiveness

That is ridiculous-- getting a good education should not be a competition where you have to defeat your peers in a fight to access decent schooling.

It's the mediocre who need failure nearby to feel better about themselves.

Most children do not perform poorly at school because they're dumb, they perform poorly because they're not raised in a household/environment that values education

Well, that's certainly not their fault, since they didn't ask to be born into that environment.

by Tyro on Sep 8, 2013 11:02 pm • linkreport

What we need is tracking. We are too politically correct to be honest with these kids and you end up creating this false dichotomy of college or nothing. These losers know they aren't going to make it to college or make it in college if they did get there and with no viable alternatives presented the don't see a future. For the ones with greater discipline problems you just need to straight up remove them, permanent expulsion. The younger the better so they don't continue to spread their cancerous mentality to their peers who might have a chance. We need to repeal the idiotic legislation passed in Annapolis recently that's raising the age at which kids can quit school from 16 to 18. There were absolutely no 16 year old's who were worth keeping that were leaving under the old system. All we are doing is forcing our children to spend 2 more years around these losers who would have quit school. It's misguided, if they are not on the right track by 16 they are never going to get there and if their parents don't have enough influence or give enough of a damn to stop them from dropping out they are clearly not being raised right and again need to be moved as far away as possible from kids whose parents are making an effort.

by Doug on Sep 8, 2013 11:11 pm • linkreport

@dan reed! ; congratulations on getting on op-ed in the post.

Is there a way to post the full text of your op-ed wihout linking it to the post web site?

I suspect you are wrong about the solution; changing boundaries isn't going to help. An why are lower income people attracted the eastern Moco -- it is called IZ. Pushing more "development" there isn't going to attract higher income people with children.

by charlie on Sep 9, 2013 8:23 am • linkreport

Problem here is that the growing suburbanization of poverty is changing the dynamics of MCPS. Once upon a time the population of the county was largely middle-class whites fleeing racial and economic integration in the city. That bought some time, but the story of the last 20 years has been poor and working class DC residents escaping the city, and a large influx of Hispanic immigrants who moved directly to the suburbs.

So now you've got a demographic mix that looks increasingly like the one in the District that the white middle-class ran from so long ago.

But MoCo and the District are on two different trajectories: one continues to gentrify, and the other continues to de-gentrify. Which makes a big psychological difference to those invested in the school system. Middle-class parents who chose to stay in the city will fight tooth and nail to improve DCPS and charters because they see improvement--sometimes radical improvements.

The big question mark is whether middle-class parents will have the same motivation to knuckle down and struggle when it seems like the trends are moving in the opposite direction. And once the perception of decay takes hold, it's very hard to reverse.

Finally, as we've seen in DCPS, while the strategy of rigidly defined school boundaries can "protect" the super-wealthy schools within a school district, over time as the wealthy white voter falls as a proportion of the total MoCo voting population, having a small number of "public privates" clustered in the NW corner of the county will become increasingly untenable.

by oboe on Sep 9, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

MCPS has attempted to address these issues through magnet or school-choice programs such as the Northeast and Downcounty consortia.

I'm a graduate of Blair's magnet program, so want to make sure that it's clear that magnet programs are different from school-choice programs (which don't have a great track record). In magnet programs, schools choose the students while in the Consortia, students choose the schools.

By most measures, Blair's magnet program is a smashing success. It provided student's with opportunities that were appropriate for their aptitude regardless of where they lived in the county. It also helped propel Blair from an undesirable, crime-ridden school to one of the best schools in MoCo.

If I had children I wouldn't send them to a school where the majority of the students were disruptive, in gangs, doing drugs, and significantly behind most of their counterparts in learning.

Parents from wealthy (and non-wealthy) areas of the county did exactly that in the case of Blair. If you create academic opportunities that are appropriate for their children, I think parents will look past all the other problems at the school and send their kids there anyway.

by Falls Church on Sep 9, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

Agreed with Falls Church. Both my wife and I are products of public school magnet programs, and I work with an excellent Blair magnet grad.

The danger is that magnet programs often get targeted for cuts (which happened after I graduated) or are politically unpopular. For example, people complain that there is insufficient minority representation and therefore this must be a separate but equal system and therefore discriminatory. Or, they ask how can there be so many kids in gifted programs (ignoring that this is to be expected given the average background of their parents in MoCo) and use that as proof that it is a waste.

Unlike magnet programs, school districts are more stable and more resistant to the vagueries of funding. If I buy an expensive house in the western end of the W districts, its pretty much guaranteed that my kids will not go to a "bad" school. Parents know this, and bid up the cost of housing.

If MoCo could increase its gifted and magnet programs, and make a long term commitment, you might see more parents willing to move to the less posh parts of the county.

by SJE on Sep 9, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

@Dan Reed.

You're right, this conversation is over. Your attempts at social engineering and and trying to get everyone to accept "good enough" schools is dead on arrival. Some of us have high standards when it comes to our children's education and we are not going to be forced to change just assuage the PC police.

by Tom on Sep 9, 2013 7:04 pm • linkreport

Do the demographic trends really suggest "white flight"? This board is full of people enthusiastically talking up walkable places like Silver Spring and White Flint, and although I don't know I would guess a significant percentage of them are young and white.

Also house prices remain high just about everywhere in the county (even way up north), so poverty doesn't seem to be sweeping the populace as of yet.

by Chris S. on Sep 9, 2013 8:28 pm • linkreport

Can anyone give me a definition of wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, and lower class, specifically for the county. For instance, if two GS-12's were married, that would be an annual household income of at least 150,000 dollars/year. What would that be considered, and would it be enough to live in an area that would be zoned to one of the better schools.

by Nickyp on Sep 9, 2013 10:47 pm • linkreport

Nicky P: probably not in a single family home with mortgage and school debt, unless you are in one of the "poorer" sections. Friends of mine, two income couple, must be making 200K. Not known for fancy tastes. Found an apartment in Bethesda too expensive with two kids so moved to apartment in Silver Spring. Big school loans, daycare, car loan eats into $ very quickly.

School loans and rising home prices make it tough for young couples.

by SJE on Sep 10, 2013 9:02 pm • linkreport

@FS1: You dont feel safe in downtown SS on a friday night? You do realise that teens hang out in downtown bethesda, friendship heights, at montgomery mall on friday nights too! I am so tired of downtown SS getting a bad rap bc of the teeens.

by LILk on Sep 11, 2013 8:32 am • linkreport

@ Thayer D! ; excellent post full of FANTASTIC posts.

by lilK on Sep 11, 2013 8:35 am • linkreport

I never noticed all the White and Wealthy schools are W too :Wooton Whitman, Winston, Walter. De facto segregation needs to be stopped. MoCo needs to seek out the bright minority kids and get them into theadvanced, AP, and IB programs at the W schools. Also, affordable housing and MPDUs need to go to Rockville, Travilah, Brookeville, Potomac, Washington Grove, Colesville and Chevy Chase and its fancy 5 sections. Stop concentrating them all in White Oak, Castle Blvd, Wheaton, Aspen Hill, Gaithersburg ! ! !Llook how the White Oak/Burnt Mills area is fighting putting MPDus n Milestone Drive [ w w w justupthepike.c o m /2009/06/on-community-meetings.html] in next to the 3rd District White Oak police station!

by lilK on Sep 11, 2013 8:51 am • linkreport

charlie :Please explain this. What is "I Z " ?

__QUOTE
by charlie on Sep 9, 2013 8:23
@dan reed! ; congratulations on getting on op-ed in the post.
Is there a way to post the full text of your op-ed wihout linking it to the post web site?

I suspect you are wrong about the solution; changing boundaries isn't going to help. An why are lower income people attracted the eastern Moco -- it is called IZ. Pushing more "development" there isn't going to attract higher income people with children.

by lilK on Sep 11, 2013 8:55 am • linkreport

I grew up in Dallas, Tx., but have lived in Montgomery County for the past decade. The main problem I see with this county is that everything is about money [I call it "Money County"], though no one will ever admit that because it's not PC/liberal to do so.
Housing prices are kept way artificially inflated so all those people in the W schools can continue to maintain their high-end lifestyles. Realtors, home investors, builders, contractors, mortgage/title people, govt. officials, etc. make a mint off this area.
I bought a new 4 BR, 2,000 SF house in 1996 in a Dallas suburb and paid only $105k. The schools were comparable to Moco, believe it or not. I left that area under an agreement with my ex, but I sometimes regret doing so because of the way I am forced to live here in apartments and overpriced housing, though I can't say it's been a totally negative experience living here.
You can't find that same house here because they don't build any new SF developments that middle-class people can afford here. It's all high-end or these no-space townhomes. You drive through Potomac or western Rockville and see all the wasted land that could be used for middle-class, affordable housing. But no one does that because they wouldn't make enough money.

by mocoschoolsroverrated on Sep 17, 2013 8:33 am • linkreport

__I left that area under an agreement with my ex, but I sometimes regret doing so because...__
Ummm, were the courts involved? heheh LOL.

But seriously, I agree with your post. Middle income housing and public housing needs to go to the W areas of MoCo--Bethesda, Potomac, chevy chase, chevy chse various sections-- instead of only being in silver spring and wheaton. This will also ad diversity to wooton, whitman, winston, walter also find smart innovative youths as THEY DO EXIST among recent immigrants and minorities! Seneca Valley, and Sherwood too need diversity.

by lilk on Sep 17, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

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