Saturday, August 12, 2006

Does moving out of District 95 makes you a racist?

Since I moved back to town I have heard from a few liberals that if someone moves their children out of Carbondale school district (District 95 is our K-8 and the worst district by test scores in Carbondale) they must be racist. I have been told by others of a more right wing philosophy that the problem with District 95 is there are to many black students. I have been thinking about this for a while and trying to figure out some answers.

When I lived in Seattle and my oldest child was about to start school, my wife and I moved to a bigger house in a better school district. There were essentially no black kids in either school, does that make us racist? If we weren't racists because minority students simply were not part of our decision making process, why did we move? We could afford a better and bigger house, it had a better view, and the school district was one of the best in the state. It sure made sense then, like the Jefferson's we were "moving on up." A summary of the American Way in action isn't it?

When we look at District 95 vs. Giant City and Unity Point school districts (click title of this post to mine for data on this issue) we know some facts - the teachers are drawn from exactly the same employment pool and are likely about the same quality, houses are smaller in Carbondale than outside of town, lots are smaller in Carbondale, people in District 95 are poorer, the buildings are about the same. We know that test scores for District 95 are much, much worse. The key factor I believe is how many students are poor (http://iirc.niu.edu/Scripts/mytables.asp?districtID=300390950&categoryID=cat2&subCatID=subCat2&level=D in District 95 (62% vs. 21% in Giant City, but 49% for Unity Point).

I'm sure I'll write more posts like this one, but we all know the answers already - test scores are about the results of good parents and in a small way about the school, teachers or district. Kids do what their parents lead them to. Drink, smoke dope and watch TV and your kids will figure it out. Work hard, read, learn, waste less time on drugs, booze, TV and video games and your kids will follow. Let me suggest that one way to tell if a child will have high test scores is the household subscribing to the local paper and/or using the public library.

In Summary, I don't think that moving out of one school district into an other makes you a racist. You may be a racist too, but that is a different discussion. I believe that American's have the right to move their children into the situation that they feel will educate them best. I have done it and would do it again (as soon as my wife tells me to). It isn't about race, it is about results.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

School vouchers allow parents to do exactly what you are describing - choose the school they want their children to attend. Do you support them?

Gerald McBoing Boing said...

Beemn reading "Freakonomics", haven't you?

Peter in Carbondale said...

Of course I have read Freakonomics, but if you have lived outside of this very small place, people moving to better school districts is happening even where race isn't involved. People wanting bigger houses, even if they can't afford them may bring down the US economic empire yet. The race issue is real, but it is a false play when you call it the only reason people move to better schools.

School vouchers seem to be a cool issue that the religious right plays with, sort of like abortion (we can get into this after I riff on the SIUC administration). I'm not for school vouchers. Just a normal capitalist who thinks that helping society pay for a quality education for each child is much cheaper than not. Want to send you kid to private school it is OK with me, spend the money to do so. Not pay your taxes for the public good? No, that isn't a good idea.

I'm crazy this way. I think helping pay for roads, helping the poor, educating kids, educating college students, public funding of general research are all what has made this country great. I suspect it is more efficient to legalize to prescription form many illegal drugs, rehab drug addicts instead of jailing them, free vitamins for expecting mothers, etc, etc. It is simply more efficient economically to do most of these things than not. You know, long-term thinking instead of short-term.

It is tough to be a liberal capitalist, but someone has to do it.