Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Middle Class Exodus? = Trouble in Ed Paradise

In a fascinating in-depth article that represents what the NY Times does best, Susan Saulany examines "signs of anxiety" in the city's middle class because of the changes brought about by the mayoral takeover of the school system. The thrust of the article is that middle class parents (read: mostly white) are concerned that the emphasis on equity will compromise the pursuit of excellence, and in the process shortchange their kids.

In particular the worries focus on changes in the way T&G classes are selected, increases in class size, and the mania with standardized test scores (a necessity to gauge the progress of some the city's historically underperforming schools). As one parent says, "My concern is that the mayor is driving families out...It's very frustrating."

We have commented on some of this in the past and Andrew Wolfe at the Sun has been articulate on the subject for years. You ignore the middle class at your peril because if you do you will, just like District Three in Manhattan did for years, drive these folks out of the system (always in the name of fairness).

That's why Dr. Joe Vitteritti's comments are wrongheaded: "Nobody gets shortchanged the way the poor do." According to our former classmate at the Graduate Center the poor are the ones "who have no options." Yet it is essential for the system to insure that middle class parents continue to have a strong stake in the city's public education system, for a whole host of reasons that we can't fully get into here. The end quote on this has to come from outgoing Council member Eva Moskowitz, "If we become a school system for the exclusively poor, we arte going to be in big trouble."