A new generation of affluent, educated, urban Americans is beginning to send its children to school.? Their dissatisfaction with the lack of choice and the status quo of failure in urban education will be far more personal than their elders'?and it represents a golden opportunity for choice advocates able to mobilize these parents.
As upper-middle class white families move into historically-minority, urban neighborhoods, the infusion of affluence causes property values to spike, businesses to spring up, and municipal tax revenues to increase, fundamentally changing those communities.? Gentrification has become a national phenomenon, transforming neighborhoods from the Northern Liberties (Philadelphia) to Columbia City (Seattle), and countless others in between, and it is raising some tough questions for many young parents educated in high-performing suburban schools.
Inner-city public schools are overwhelmingly low-performing and attended by minorities.? Gentrifiers are confronted with a question that contributed to their parents' and grandparents' suburban exodus a half-century earlier: Are they willing to send their children to the neighborhood public school?
Historically, no.? The established alternatives, however, are straining to keep up with demand.? Manhattan, for example, has experienced a thirty-two percent increase in its population under the age of five over the past half-decade, but spots at elite private schools crept up by only 400.? At the elementary level, supply is actually dropping; since the 1990s, over 1,300 Catholic schools, most of them urban, shut their doors.? It looks like a seller's market for top education providers, which tends to...