Streams

Affluent New York Parents Born Abroad Prefer Public Schools

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 08:24 AM

In the news on Wednesday, Kirk Semple, who covers immigrant communities in New York for The New York Times, looked at census data and came up with an interesting finding: affluent, foreign-born parents who move to New York City prefer to send their children to the public schools than private schools.

According to The Times article, of the roughly 15,500 households in the city with school-age children where the total income is at least $150,000 and both parents were born abroad, some 10,500, or 68 percent, use only the public schools. That is just about twice the rate of parents who were born in America and are in the same income bracket.

The Times says:

As a result, some public elementary schools in wealthier parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn are experiencing an unexpected increase in foreign-born students, especially Western Europeans.

“We have never had the numbers that we have,” said Elizabeth Phillips, the principal at Public School 321 in Park Slope for 13 years. “But we’ve never had so many affluent foreign families in the neighborhood, either.”

The pattern holds true in other American cities, but in the country as a whole, about the same percentage of affluent foreign-born parents send their children to public schools as do affluent American-born parents -- roughly three quarters over all.

In interviews, affluent foreign-born New Yorkers said that like all conscientious parents, they weighed various criteria in choosing schools, including quality, cost and location. But many said they were also swayed by the greater ethnic and economic diversity of the public schools. Some said that as immigrants, they had learned to navigate different cultures — a skill they wanted to imbue in their children.

“When they go to public school, they’re in a whole new world, a whole world of different people and different values, which is what the world is like,” said Lyn Bollen, who grew up in Birmingham, England, and attended — and taught at — state-run schools. “Shielding them from that is doing them a disservice.”

Also in the news, there are several updates on the attempts to secure a deal on a new teacher evaluation system. The Times Union of Albany reports that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is optimistic about reaching a deal before Thursday, when he said he would submit alterations to his budget plan.

The Daily News reports that the governor has intervened directly to try to dispel the "toxic" atmosphere between the city's teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers, and the Bloomberg administration.

And virtually every news organization reported that the union had lost its final round in an effort to keep the "value-added scores" -- ratings of teachers' effectiveness in raising students' scores on standardized tests -- from being released to the public.

Gotham Schools' Rise & Shine post has a more complete roundup of what's in the news Wednesday.

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