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Old 03-05-2013, 09:55 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I have huge issues with these charter and magnet schools. I believe we have discussed this on the Pittsburgh forum. These schools are lottery admit, sometimes accompanied by some sort of entrance requirements.
Magnet schools, at least the ones I'm familiar with, are not lottery admissions. They have admissions requirements, partially based on tests and partially on grades or other work. For students studious to get into them, they work quite well.
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Old 03-05-2013, 09:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I won't rebut you point by point, but I will note the following.

1. The first push to the suburbs (streetcar suburbs in the early 20th century) was due to a desire to get away from pollution. As factories have closed just about everywhere, and road-related pollution is often just as bad in suburban areas, cities and suburbs have relatively similar air quality today.

2. The crime differential between cities and suburbs still exists, but it's much, much less than it was in the 1970s. Urban riots just don't happen anymore, for example. Racial relations are much, much better today in urban areas than they were during that period as well.

Considering the remaining suburban advantages, they boil down to basically two things. One is that suburbs have historically catered to middle classes, and thus they tend to still have lower crime, better schools, etc. But this is a function of the people who live there, not the built environment. The second, as you note, is basically subjective. It's cultural, varies from nation to nation, and could easily shift over time, even if the current movement ends up being overblown.
I strongly disagree on both points. City Data and other sources often show air quality for a large nearby city even for suburban/rural locations simply because not many readings are taken in less dense areas. Despite my town having 2-3 cars per family, oil heat, lots of wood burning stoves and the like, I can tell you with absolute certainty that air quality is far superior in back country CT to midtown Manhattan. I make the trip every day and the variation is eye opening.

Outside of NY, San Fran and a handful of other "global cities", it is actually the city that has catered to the poor and middle class. You might want to re-check your data sources.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:00 AM
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Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Magnet schools, at least the ones I'm familiar with, are not lottery admissions. They have admissions requirements, partially based on tests and partially on grades or other work. For students studious to get into them, they work quite well.
Well, they can only take so many students. If there are more qualified applicants than spaces, then they have to resort to lottery, I guess. We don't really have "magnet schools" out here, although Denver School for the Arts might be considered such, b/c students do have to audition or submit a portfolio of work to be considered for admission. The rest of our non-neighborhood schools are charters, and charters are lotto admission, with some "preferences", e.g. sibling goes there, children of teachers in the district, etc.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:19 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Well, they can only take so many students. If there are more qualified applicants than spaces, then they have to resort to lottery, I guess. We don't really have "magnet schools" out here, although Denver School for the Arts might be considered such, b/c students do have to audition or submit a portfolio of work to be considered for admission. The rest of our non-neighborhood schools are charters, and charters are lotto admission, with some "preferences", e.g. sibling goes there, children of teachers in the district, etc.
Or they could raise their test requirements. Another possibilty is to create new magnet schools. The one negative I see out of magnet schools is they remove the brightest students out of the regular schools, possibly reducing standards and the students have fewer peers as examples as good students. Similar to college, but usually with places like, state schools with easier admissons standards than private schools, they still have decent minimum standards and will attract some the best students because of cheaper tuition and from being closer to home.

I don't remember hearing of any charter schools in Long Island. No magnet schools, either. You went to the high school in your district unless your parents sent to you to Catholic school. New York City has a large system of magnet public schools, which has admission standards to get in. I think there's a system that any child can go to an out of neighborhood high school if they pass certain academic standards (depends on the school) though I'm not completely sure how the system works.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:32 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilton2ParkAve View Post
I strongly disagree on both points. City Data and other sources often show air quality for a large nearby city even for suburban/rural locations simply because not many readings are taken in less dense areas. Despite my town having 2-3 cars per family, oil heat, lots of wood burning stoves and the like, I can tell you with absolute certainty that air quality is far superior in back country CT to midtown Manhattan. I make the trip every day and the variation is eye opening.
As far as I can tell, your argument here is "ignore the actual data, just trust me." You realize that as a random person on the internet, an appeal to authority kind of falls flat right?

Regardless, I was not saying there was no difference between urban and suburban air quality today. I was saying it's a lot less than it used to be. In Pittsburgh, the smog used to be so bad cars used headlights during the day, and white-collar workers packed a second shirt to change into in the afternoon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilton2ParkAve View Post
Outside of NY, San Fran and a handful of other "global cities", it is actually the city that has catered to the poor and middle class. You might want to re-check your data sources.
If suburbs don't cater to the middle class, who do they cater to? The majority of people in the U.S. live in suburban areas now, IIRC. You're not telling me they are all wealthy are you?
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Or they could raise their test requirements. Another possibilty is to create new magnet schools. The one negative I see out of magnet schools is they remove the brightest students out of the regular schools, possibly reducing standards and the students have fewer peers as examples as good students. Similar to college, but usually with places like, state schools with easier admissons standards than private schools, they still have decent minimum standards and will attract some the best students because of cheaper tuition and from being closer to home.

I don't remember hearing of any charter schools in Long Island. No magnet schools, either. You went to the high school in your district unless your parents sent to you to Catholic school. New York City has a large system of magnet public schools, which has admission standards to get in. I think there's a system that any child can go to an out of neighborhood high school if they pass certain academic standards (depends on the school) though I'm not completely sure how the system works.
When I was a kid back in PA (about the same time your parents were kids), my school system worked like yours in LI. However, Colorado has long had statewide open enrollment, on a space available basis. Schools are also allowed to set preferences as I stated above. There is actually a long list of preferences for my school district. Out of district students are generally in the last preference group, only getting admission if there is still room after all the in-district students have been accommodated. Charter schools came into being in Colorado in 1993. Their success has been spotty, to say the least. Admission to these schools is by lottery as well, with the same preferences as above. As I said, the only real "magnet school" I can think of is Denver School for the Arts.
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:45 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Well, they can only take so many students. If there are more qualified applicants than spaces, then they have to resort to lottery, I guess. We don't really have "magnet schools" out here, although Denver School for the Arts might be considered such, b/c students do have to audition or submit a portfolio of work to be considered for admission. The rest of our non-neighborhood schools are charters, and charters are lotto admission, with some "preferences", e.g. sibling goes there, children of teachers in the district, etc.
Boston basically operates totally on school choice. On the elementary and middle school level there are three zones, and open enrollment is allowed within any school within your zone. High school students can go to any high school in Boston. The basic system is a weighted lottery, with additional weight given if you're within walking distance of a school, but as you progress, weights based upon test scores are also introduced.

I agree that magnets (or charters) do nothing to improve public education in general. They do manage to keep people living in the city (and/or enrolled in public schools) who would otherwise make different choices, however, and they certainly don't really hurt the students in failing urban schools, so I fail to see the real downside.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:12 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 22 days ago)
 
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Boston basically operates totally on school choice. On the elementary and middle school level there are three zones, and open enrollment is allowed within any school within your zone. High school students can go to any high school in Boston. The basic system is a weighted lottery, with additional weight given if you're within walking distance of a school, but as you progress, weights based upon test scores are also introduced.

I agree that magnets (or charters) do nothing to improve public education in general. They do manage to keep people living in the city (and/or enrolled in public schools) who would otherwise make different choices, however, and they certainly don't really hurt the students in failing urban schools, so I fail to see the real downside.
As nei said, they hurt the neighborhood schools by skimming off the top students.

IMO, the public school system is responsible for a lot of people choosing not to live in the city in the first place, or moving out when their kids reach school age. In fact, I read some urban planner's blog post to that effect once. He said he never thought much about the schools, until HIS kids reached school age.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:21 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Responding to a number of posts (can't respond to every post):

Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
I wouldn't expect an equal square footage to cost the same, but I would expect the price to be similar. Walkable areas are inherently going to have higher land values... although I guess it depends how you're comparing. Maybe a 1500 sf rowhouse on 1/20 of an acre shouldn't cost more than a 1500 sf bungalow on 1/5 of an acre. However, a 1500 sf rowhouse on 1/20 acre in the suburbs should definitely cost less than in the city.
If you mean the same size lot size in denser areas will be more expensive, I agree with some exceptions. Higher income areas regardless of their location tend to have more expensive housing stock, for the privilege of having wealthier neighbors (and often better services). But it's not uncommon for the same housing size and lot to be cheaper within the city limits, even if it's more dense.

A row house (more likely a triple becker) in Brookline compared to one in Boston of similar size would be more expensive than all but a handful of Boston neighborhoods. Schools are much better is one of the causes. Though most dense housing in Brookline would be in a walkable, transit-friendly area similar in distance to the city center as a similar Boston neighborhood. So the extra price is for the neighborhood and for being in the limits of the Town of Brookline rather than the City of Boston.

More drastic cases would occur when a city has urban decay. Then similar housing stock is often cheaper. Probably not a common situation in Canada.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I'm not so sure that's true. I think it's more like the marriage issue, where most people still get married, but at a later age. I think people are still having families, just later, and fewer kids. I'm not sure there's a large block of people who will never have kids.
No idea, but assuming you're correct and the OP is correct that people will leave once they have kids, this leaves more people who might stay in cities if they have kids at say 35 instead of 26.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
The trend toward smaller families can also make the difference in urban living. Many urban parents do not consider public school options, but enroll their children in private schools. For the average middle-class family, sending one child to private school isn't a big deal (it's often less expensive than day care, which most families with two working parents pay for now).
Maybe depends on where, I thought private school can be very expensive even for one kid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I was speaking about living space, not lot size. Pretty much everyone wants as much living space as is feasible within their budget, but lot sizes are more determined by zoning than anything.
Not really, more living space generally falls under the diminishing returns. Too big, and it's just space you don't use and have to clean and heat. Different people have very different ideas of what's too big and particularly younger people often have little interest in a lot of space.

As for lot sizes determined by zoning, true but a buyer can still have some choice in lot size. In the area of Long Island I grew up in, city sized lots or density (row houses, for example) aren't available but one can find anywhere from 0.15 acre lots to 1 acre. The smallest lot sizes are generally cheaper, excluding small lot homes by the beach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
2. Well, maybe. I don't know exactly what period you're talking about. Remember the Boston school deseg riots in the 1970s? (Actually, maybe you're too young.)
I'm obviously too young, but from what I've read racial tensions were generally higher in the 70s (and 80s) at least in metros with larger black populations. The residues racial segregation are still around today looking at map of black population in the NYC metro, the locations were way too concentrated and non-random to be explained by income alone. The location of blacks were I grew up seemed like it had to be partly from racial steering 40+ years ago. The income difference of blacks vs the rest of the population in Queens is small but blacks are mostly concentrated in the southeastern section of the borough, often in neighborhoods that are overwhelming black. In contrast the southern 2/3rds of Staten Island appear to be almost devoid of black people.

I'm wondering if white flight and racial tension would have been less obvious living in Denver or Pittsburgh, both of which had relatively small black populations.

Public schools in Boston both had a large drop in enrollment and quality post-busing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
It's cultural, varies from nation to nation, and could easily shift over time, even if the current movement ends up being overblown.
But the trend of families tending to avoid the city center for outlying regions is common everywhere in the world. You can find the same "city center areas are for single people" in Europe. I remember seeing data for Paris' metro showing household size decreasing toward the center. Of course, the "family neighborhoods" in the suburbs are generally much denser than American ones, but the same pattern exists. The income city-suburb difference is either smaller or non-existent and school quality differences is less common. While yes, Europe isn't America, there are also some parallels. It's a good check to see a particular situation is possible by checking other developed countries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
People wanted more space because the wealthy had more space, and they aspired to be wealthy. Traditionally the wealthy (going back to Britain) would have the country estate and the "townhouse" and split their time between the two. The townhouse was basically a jumped-up rowhouse, much larger and more ornate, but otherwise identical in structure. The country estate was of course its own thing, situated far back from any road, with an extensive lawn (originally grazed by sheep kept on site for the purpose). The U.S. imported the same essential breakdown between the city house and country manor, with city housing largely abandoned by the wealthy in many areas once rail transportation became good enough to not need an urban residence.
I agree the US has a culture of wanting more space compared to most other countries, IMO rather extreme. But I doubt it has that much to do with aspiring to be wealthy. My parents would to have a "private park", I don't think they cared how wealthy they looked. Many people genuinuely seem to like lots of space, others are indifferent but like other aspects of a neighborhood. Canadians seem to have a similar interest in low density housing, but old urban areas never declined to the extent as the US. And the tradition you describe hasn't led to the low density pattern in the UK, and the well off fleeing cities was much less than the US though probably more than continental Europe.

Quote:
I'm too young - I was born in 1979. I have read about the period, however, and I can understand why cities were considered to be unpleasant places to live in the 1960s and 1970s. The early postwar suburban movement, from 1945 through the 50s, was a positive movement to the suburbs - people wanted suburban living. But the 60s and 70s were more characterized by cities themselves becoming unattractive places to live, largely due to racial strife and crime. I don't think a single major U.S. city outside of the sun belt (where they were annexing suburbs and developing new land in city limits) grew during this period.
The population changes often mask an even greater change in American cities. Middle-class white population left and were replaced by poor minorities, usually black. Many posters claim that pre 1945 suburbanization was little different from more recent postwar suburbanization. Besides lower densities (though that varies by metro) one large difference was the flight of middle class families from cities, especially white ones and a decline of center city downtowns. I'm mainly refering to older American cities, not newer sunbelt ones.

Quote:
They are, but even here, the advantages aren't as clear cut as they used to be. Many suburbs now have former "urban" problems with crime and bad schools, due to the displacement of the urban poor into first-ring suburbs. In contrast, some cities have very good public schooling options - Boston basically has city-wide magnets based upon merit, meaning if you're middle class and you happen to have above-average kids who test into the smart schools, you have no reason to ever consider the suburbs for schooling.
Meh. But on average, the schools outside of Boston (excluding a number of older poorer suburbs, but still including the majority of suburbs) have much better schools than non-magnet schools in Boston. It's easier for a parent to find their child goes to a good school in the suburbs.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
As nei said, they hurt the neighborhood schools by skimming off the top students.

IMO, the public school system is responsible for a lot of people choosing not to live in the city in the first place, or moving out when their kids reach school age. In fact, I read some urban planner's blog post to that effect once. He said he never thought much about the schools, until HIS kids reached school age.
Again, if the students skimmed off would otherwise be in the suburbs or private schools, it doesn't hurt anything at all. And considering the difference between middle class public school enrollment in Boston or NYC (where it's a minority, but there are options) and someplace like Philadelphia or Washington DC (where no one who is white and middle class sends their kids to public school) suggests this is the case.

For the most part, I don't think there's anything easy that city schools can do differently. They're bad schools because they have bad students - students who are primed to not do as well as middle class suburban students for a host of potential reasons. Teaching itself seems to have nothing to do with it, however, as any time a substantial number of poor minority students are sent to a wealthy suburban school, they tend to do just as bad as they would in their home school. There may be some solutions which will work, but merely firing teachers, or alternatively throwing more money at failing schools, will do nothing, because neither teachers nor resources are the issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Maybe depends on where, I thought private school can be very expensive even for one kid.
Yes, it's expensive. That said, it's probably cheaper (at least nominally) in most cases than day care, as the staffing ratios required at day cares mean it's inordinately expensive. Thus if a one-child family is actually looking at a drop in their expenses to move to a private school it's not as big of a jump.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Not really, more living space generally falls under the diminishing returns. Too big, and it's just space you don't use and have to clean and heat. Different people have very different ideas of what's too big and particularly younger people often have little interest in a lot of space.
I think this is true to a degree. I thought about heating concerns, but this fell under cost. I definitely know young urbanists who bought modest rowhouses, and are now (despite being single and childless) looking to upgrade to larger Victorian houses, because a formal dining room will allow them to entertain guests, or similar reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I'm obviously too young, but from what I've read racial tensions were generally higher in the 70s (and 80s) at least in metros with larger black populations. The residues racial segregation are still around today looking at map of black population in the NYC metro, the locations were way too concentrated and non-random to be explained by income alone. The location of blacks were I grew up seemed like it had to be partly from racial steering 40+ years ago. The income difference of blacks vs the rest of the population in Queens is small but blacks are mostly concentrated in the southeastern section of the borough, often in neighborhoods that are overwhelming black. In contrast the southern 2/3rds of Staten Island appear to be almost devoid of black people.
One of my coworkers grew up in that part of Southern Queens (he is Jewish). There was blockbusting - the real estate agents basically decided all of Southern Queens was going to be black, and did everything they could to get the white families to leave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I'm wondering if white flight and racial tension would have been less obvious living in Denver or Pittsburgh, both of which had relatively small black populations.
I don't think Denver has had much of a history of racial tension (the black population is very small there), but it has definitely been white flight in Pittsburgh. The largest black neighborhood was essentially trashed in riots after the death of Martin Luther King, and in combination with other issues (demolition of the lower portion for an arena in the 1950s, public housing scattered around the city, poor urban planning ruining areas, and later the crack epidemic), resulted in the black population being dispersed in different pockets elsewhere in the city, and the white abandonment of fairly sizable portions of the North Side and the East End. Things have stabilized now in most neighborhoods, but the poor black population is now moving to the suburbs as the city gentrifies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Public schools in Boston both had a large drop in enrollment and quality post-busing.
When there's a national black-white test score drop, and white parents take their kids out of public schools, aggregate scores are going to drop. It doesn't mean the quality itself dropped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
But the trend of families tending to avoid the city center for outlying regions is common everywhere in the world. You can find the same "city center areas are for single people" in Europe. I remember seeing data for Paris' metro showing household size decreasing toward the center. Of course, the "family neighborhoods" in the suburbs are generally much denser than American ones, but the same pattern exists. The income city-suburb difference is either smaller or non-existent and school quality differences is less common. While yes, Europe isn't America, there are also some parallels. It's a good check to see a particular situation is possible by checking other developed countries.
I wouldn't want to live in in the downtown of any city in the U.S. either. But a walkable mixed-use area somewhat near to the core is another matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I agree the US has a culture of wanting more space compared to most other countries, IMO rather extreme. But I doubt it has that much to do with aspiring to be wealthy. My parents would to have a "private park", I don't think they cared how wealthy they looked.
I'm not saying people do this consciously. A lot of aping of the wealthy is done unconsciously. Look at how many people now name their male children with surnames for first names because they "like the sound." This was traditionally an old money practice - a son would get his mother's maiden name as a first name, if she was from a prestigious family. Now it's filtered to be so widespread people don't recognize it as such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Many people genuinuely seem to like lots of space, others are indifferent but like other aspects of a neighborhood. Canadians seem to have a similar interest in low density housing, but old urban areas never declined to the extent as the US. And the tradition you describe hasn't led to the low density pattern in the UK, and the well off fleeing cities was much less than the US though probably more than continental Europe.
I think Australia and Israel are the two countries closest to the U.S. in terms of suburban focus. From what I had read, as suburbs developed in Britain, they were actually lampooned by the wealthy, which (coupled with a more aggressive sense of upper-class status) might be why they never became an attractive place for the rich to live.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
The population changes often mask an even greater change in American cities. Middle-class white population left and were replaced by poor minorities, usually black. Many posters claim that pre 1945 suburbanization was little different from more recent postwar suburbanization. Besides lower densities (though that varies by metro) one large difference was the flight of middle class families from cities, especially white ones and a decline of center city downtowns. I'm mainly refering to older American cities, not newer sunbelt ones.
All of this is true, but I'd argue the population wasn't "replaced" insofar as any growth in the black population wasn't anywhere near large enough to compensate for all of the loss of the white middle class.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Meh. But on average, the schools outside of Boston (excluding a number of older poorer suburbs, but still including the majority of suburbs) have much better schools than non-magnet schools in Boston. It's easier for a parent to find their child goes to a good school in the suburbs.
One of my wife's friends lives in Jamaica Plain. They have been considering moving to Brookline, but the cheapest house there (which would require major work) would cost them upwards of $700,000. It's far more affordable for them to stay in the city than go to the suburbs - unless they moved very far out to someplace they would lack all the amenities Boston has to offer.
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