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Mike Petrilli took to the airwaves today to discuss his new book, The Diverse Schools Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools, on Kansas City Public Radio. Joining host Jabulani Lefall and Dr. Lawson Bush, an education professor at California State University, Los Angeles, Mike explained his personal experience with school diversity—as a student and a parent—and the merits of socioeconomically mixed schools. Want more? Listen to Mike’s interview with Southern California Public Radio on the topic from Tuesday or, best of all, buy the book!
Listen to the Kansas City Public Radio interview below.
Heather Schoell, a white, college-educated, stay-at-home mom living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., was incredulous when a friend suggested that she should send her daughter to the local public school. “Honestly, I was like, ‘Right, D.C. Public Schools—we’re not even looking at that,’” Schoell recalled later. Maury Elementary wasn’t much to look at; its drab 1960s-era building had opaque, yellowing windows that made the place feel desolate. One hundred percent of its students were African American, most from low-income families. Schoell pictured mayhem behind those dreary windows, poor kids just running around. But her friend, who had volunteered at the school for twenty-five years, continued to press her: “Give it a chance, go inside and see,” she would say.
Research shows racially and socioeconomically integrated schools benefit all students.
Photo by the Knight Foundation
So Schoell did, when her daughter was two and a half. And what she saw wasn’t at all what she’d imagined. The principal at the time, an army veteran, exuded a confidence that put many of Schoell’s concerns to rest. The school was disciplined, teachers had high expectations for students, and the administration was eager to welcome new students.
Schoell was relieved to find that the school might be a real possibility. She and her husband couldn’t afford private school. And the couple, both raised
Painting by Lucílio de Albuquerque.
I want to convince you that the education reform movement needs to reflect on the sad, devastating saga of David Petraeus.
Many will shrug off this whole story as just the latest example of Greek tragedy bleeding into American public life: A high-powered individual falls prey to his lurking hamartia—the fatal flaw of hubris or unchecked appetite that proves to be his undoing.
It’s all the more heartbreaking, head-scratching, and headline-grabbing because so many of those who crash into the sea with melted wings are those we honestly believed to be immune. Petraeus was the model soldier. Elliot Spitzer was a modern-day Elliot Ness.
I’d like to put aside, for the time being, whether such tawdry tales should ever make their way into the news cycle. Many of you will argue that no matter how lascivious the act or prurient the public’s interest, such matters should remain private. That’s worth a discussion, but for now I just want to focus on what is, not what should be.
And what is includes a pillar of public life disgraced, at least two families suffering beyond imagination, and a professional legacy tarnished. The first will forever compromise a gifted individual’s ability to contribute his talents towards the good of
As I write in my brand-new book The Diverse Schools Dilemma, gentrification has supplied us with the best opportunity in a generation to create socioeconomically-mixed public schools. But is that opportunity being seized? We know that lots of neighborhoods are gentrifying. But are demographic changes in communities leading to demographic changes in their schools?
To find out, I had Greg Hutko, our research intern, sift through national education data to pinpoint the ten public schools that have seen the biggest decrease in their share of poor students (defined as those eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch) over the past three years. Here’s what we found:
The 10 fastest-gentrifying schools
What to think of this list? First, I was surprised that the two neighborhoods thought of as the Ground Zero of gentrification—D.C.’s Capitol Hill and NYC’s Brooklyn—didn’t have any schools make the cut. And it’s telling that suburban schools outnumber urban ones on the list. (As Atlantic Cities just reported, the suburbs are where you find the nation’s most diverse neighborhoods.)
Most of these are inner-ring suburbs—Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia; Glendale and West Hollywood, bordering L.A.; El Cerrito in Northern California’s East Bay. But two exurbs make the cut, too: Casa Grande, Arizona (between Phoenix and Tucson)
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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