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A think tank, the New York Foundation for Education Reform, recommended New York state explore school “open enrollment.”

“Open enrollment” is school choice on steroids. This group favors vouchers and charter schools, but it also suggests suburban schools take in city kids.

Monroe County has such a program in Urban Suburban. Seven suburban districts hold slots for students from the city. While this is a great program, it does little to address segregation and concentrated poverty. Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski once called the program “tokenism” because of the small numbers of students allowed to participate.

Studies show integrating schools lifts the performance of low-income students and does not disrupt the performance of high-income students.  Yet no one – not even the governor – believes metro school districts will ever happen.

“Open enrollment” could more widely integrate schools. But the concept assumes suburban schools have the space. It also assumes suburban schools would throw open their doors to city students in larger numbers. I got this message from a parent whose child attends an Urban Suburban school:

I’m paying a metric #($*& ton of money for ____ schools. The teachers are excellent and the overall quality of the district is very high. I’m not willing to have my investment, if you will, be soured. Not for one second. This is my children’s education and my school taxes being played with. I welcome students from the RCSD with open arms, but if they disrupt my kid’s class, I have absolutely *no* hesitation to call the district and ask for their removal.

Many, many parents share this view. The way our schools are funded has a lot to do with this kind of thinking. If people are paying $7,000 a year in property taxes, it’s not hard to see why they don’t want to give “freebies” to outsiders.

Let’s think about this parent’s “investment.” This parent also pays a lot of tax dollars that go to the RCSD via the state. This parent pays a lot of tax dollars that go to welfare, Medicaid and the state prison system. God forbid this parents ever becomes a victim of a crime perpetrated by someone who dropped out of school.

We’re either in this together, or we’re not.

Read “open enrollment” report.

Links of the Day:

– A lawsuit has been filed against Time Warner Cable over the new modem rental fee.

– Will New York driver licenses go black and white?

– A Syracuse high school gives Muslim students a room to pray.

– This is not cool. The New York State Lottery planted a fake news story to solicit info about a fraudulent claim.

9 Responses to Open Enrollment for Schools

  1. Sorry, I just don’t buy into this theory. How many city kids would you transfer? All of them? What would the ratio be in the suburban school of city kids to suburban to be successful? Would it end up 50/50? If there is anything that is constant it is that kids need a stable family life and parents that teach and nurture. Moving kids from one school to another may feel good, but it will fail. Only a fool won’t see this. It may be harsh, but the reality is that the city schools will do just fine if they remove the troublemakers and let the kids learn that want to learn. We have to admit that certain kids are too lost and no amount of money or special privilege will correct the situation. Get them out of the schools where they can’t poison the good ones.

    • Except that you are wrong. Metro schools ARE the answer. Research has shown time & time & time again that integrated schools DO work. They bring up the “scores” and future potential of the low-income kids without any negative impact whatsoever on the middle-class (and beyond) students.
      40% is the “magic number” I keep hearing/seeing in the literature; a school can have up to 40% low-income student body and still “work.” We could totally integrate Monroe County schools to the benefit of all.

  2. I have to agree with the parent you quote. People with children chose to live where they live because of the schools. A program like this would just launch a proliferation of expensive private schools so that those who can afford better schools will get better schools, which would just create further stratification. This would just create demand for the highest quality education, and free markets always find ways to subterfuge the creation of restrictions on goods and services.

    • It’s true that when government tries to decide how we should access goods or services market forces will work against those controls. And this idea strikes me as another government planning boondoggle. But I do have to take issue with the idea that we have a truly free market in housing or education or that the “economic segregation” that exists in this area is solely the result of personal choices and market forces. Compulsory secondary education, high school taxes and the proliferation of mandates and restrictions on private schools make it impossible for many families to truly make a choice. And there are tons of hidden subsidies and restrictions that have kept the free market from providing more affordable housing in many suburbs. Zoning restrictions on apartments, rental regulations, lot size requirements have deliberately kept many suburbs artificially wealthy and heterogeneous. The solution isn’t big government schemes – it’s removing all those regulations and letting market forces fix the problem.

  3. November 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    it is interesting that as hard as the goverment tried to force school intergration the more school segregation it created. private schools, white flight. i do not think we are in this together.

    why not hold the students in the RCSD accountable instead of farming the troubles out to the suberbs. this of course would mean spending more money on poor students, which would take money away from charter school which are nothing but a rip off of educational money for private gain.

  4. November 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm Hahvahd St responds:

    “why not hold the students in the RCSD accountable instead of farming the troubles out to the suberbs.”
    Agreed, or hold the PARENTS!!!!!! accountable. They never seemed to get mentioned in all of these school debates about truancy, etc. The city wants to spend all this money to find truant students, while the blame should be on the parents who aren’t paying attention to what their kids are doing. Kids are going to find a way to skip school if their parents don’t care.
    Education starts with the parents, and the parent quoted in the article is right. She worked hard to make the money to live somewhere with good schools, and doesn’t necessarily want people who aren’t paying for the schools using them for free.

  5. I am a RCSD teacher. One of my former students was in the Urban Suburban Program. His principal told me he was the beightest boy he had seen in a long time. A scientist friend of mine worked on a program with Monroe County High Schoolers. He said the beightest child he ever worked with was a city student.
    Are there people out there that really think city students can’t learn? Think again! They have been dealt a bad hand. Give them a break! Many will rise to the occasion!

  6. I’m tired of the assumption that all city families are poor and have parents that don’t care about their children’s education. Regardless, don’t children whose parents are poor and don’t care about their education deserve to have great schools just as much as any child? It’s not their fault if these are their circumstances, and their potential is just as great! No one here is addressing the benefit to suburban schools too of the learning that happens by an entire student body when classes have a mixed racial and class makeup.

  7. Want to see how it works in the real world? Do a report on East Irondequoit schools covering the last 20 years. I don’t think there is a district that has absorbed more former city students during that time. Look at everything from enrollment totals to disciplinary concerns to grades. E & W Irondequoit, Greece and Gates can hardly be considered suburbs anymore as they are really small cities with as diverse a housing price range as the city and only slightly higher home values. There is enough subsidized housing along with lower cost fair market housing in those areas to have allowed a migration of “the poor” outside of the city to where I believe it said 50% of them now live outside of the city.

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