Education attainment levels across America

by Grace aka costofcollege

These educational attainment maps covering the United States reveal stark contrasts in some areas.

Educational Attainment in America

You can take a look at major cities, rural areas, and your own neighborhood.  It appears that my home is in a locale significantly less educated than the areas surrounding me on three sides.

A comment from the original poster of this link on a CollegeConfidential thread.

One of the things that this map reveals is that many cities and towns have very, very discrete divisions between educated and uneducated populations–often a single street, and that street often corresponds with ethnic/racial demographics.

Check out Austin Blvd. in Chicago, the crazy little UWS “peninsula” extending into Harlem in NYC, Palo Alto proper vs. East Palo Alto (divided by Highway 101), Philadelphia (you don’t need me to point it out–it’s obvious), and so many other cities.

We still are very, very segregated.

This NYT article highlights segregation in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens

Does the map data in your location surprise you?  Does it appear accurate?  Would you use this type of information when house hunting?  Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.  Have you ever searched for and moved your family to an educationally diverse neighborhood?

Advertisements

124 thoughts on “Education attainment levels across America

  1. “Does the map data in your location surprise you?”

    Not even a little bit. It is exactly how I would have thought that it would look. My neighborhood is on the edge where blue-green turns yellow-red, which is no surprise at all either. Digging deeper, it is interesting to see the gentrifying neighborhood next to mine which has an almost equal split of dot colors now – you can see the blue green spreading into the border.

    “Have you ever searched for and moved your family to an educationally diverse neighborhood?”

    Well, we knew where we were moving, and we specifically wanted to be in a diverse neighborhood, which we are. It is diverse in many ways, including educationally. However, we do at this point send DS to a school which is full of green and blue dot parents regardless of being diverse in some other ways. Our assigned public school would not be diverse either though – it would just be the opposite.

  2. Our city and our neighborhood look exactly as I would have expected. As educational attainment often mirrors income, the lower income (lower housing cost) areas are more orange/red and the upper income (higher housing cost) areas are more blue/green. Part of our neighborhood, with a fair number of apartment complexes, is close to a community college that has a few programs that cater to the 25+ age group who realizes the need for greater than a HS diploma. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of yellow concentrated there.

  3. Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.

    I would think so. However, I would also draw a distinction between highly educated and high income. For example, Chestnut Hill is almost all blue but Wellsley has a sprinkling of orange, yellow and even red. Presumably, some of the Wellsley folks are successful small business people, successful immigrants, etc. I think Laruen once mentioned that her neighborhood has both NYC finance people as well as chain of dry cleaners type people.

  4. “we do at this point send DS to a school which is full of green and blue dot parents regardless of being diverse in some other ways.”

    I think most of us like living in neighborhoods and among schools that are diverse in ways other than educational attainment.

  5. Rhett, I agree. High educational attainment and/or high income, either will usually do. However, most of us do seek to live among people with values similar to ours, so usually higher education is important.

  6. Totebaggers probably seek to live among other highly educated people.

    That’s what the real estate agents and banks who continue to push segregation assume. I don’t know how much they are right/how much we have learned and improved over the last few decades.

  7. Louise, I guess this is a concern among many of the high-income parents:

    My immediate concern is with the elementary school and the fact that my children are being used as high-SES pawns to move on the CMS chess board.

  8. The chart stops loading place names for me and I couldn’t figure out where to type city, state so it took me a bit to find my location. Fortunately I found the right bend in the river.

    My area, unsurprisingly, is mixed. There are lots of people with graduate degrees around the university. The most common dot overall is “some college” which reflects the fact that most jobs nationally require “some college” but not a 4 year degree. I suspect education level is also a function of age. I live near two contractors, one 80ish and retired and one 50-something. I think our forty-something contractor has a 4 year degree but I doubt that either of the other two have four year degrees. Nursing is another field where many younger nurses have pursued (or studied for while working) a BSN but older nurses often have a terminal RN.

    I like living around at least some college educated people, but I think it’s good for my bubble avoidance to live near other people too.

  9. so usually higher education is important.

    I wonder to what degree. I was reading about another community* where white parents were leaving because with so many Asians in town, the schools had become too intense. Perhaps that’s primarily of concern to sale douche parents not totebag parents?

    * The first I heard of this was in Cupertino, CA.

  10. ” However, most of us do seek to live among people with values similar to ours, so usually higher education is important.”

    Right. For me, I think higher education is much more important than income as far as aligning “values” to my own. I don’t actually want to be surrounded by only rich people, and I have no interest in sending DS to one of the more “elite” schools that are primarily full of wealthy kids. There are plenty of careers that require education that do not necessarily lead to “Totebag” wealth. And I would guess a lot of small business owners still have a college degree (or at a minimum “some college).

  11. I did some moving around on the map and what really struck me is that nationwide the largest category is “some college”. Des Moines area also exhibited that and a couple of other non rural places I tested out. Eastern Mass is an outlier in that bachelor degree is the highest, but Mass overall and New England overall is high school, not some college.

    Some college likely includes associates degrees and academic certificate programs. Not sure about beauty school and the like. If it includes all vocational programs, too, the following is probably not as cogent a point. But we are still cheating the population nationwide if high school is a worthless marker and college or other post secondary attendance (often with loans that cannot be discharged) is widely found but graduation is not.

  12. high school is a worthless marker

    It most certainly isn’t as not having a high school diploma indicates a nearly disabling lack of cognitive ability and/or executive function.

  13. Rhett – I have posted in the past how many househunters in Boston with plenty of money avoid such towns as Newton, Lexington, Acton because of the larger percentage of kids from ethnic traditions that prioritize academic and testing success over other kid activities. I am talking about Acton versus Concord, Lexington versus Winchester, not Newton versus Brockton. Apparently my grandkids, who live in one of the top school districts in the state but attend a terrific and laid back K-6 and have hippy-ish parents, are already being advised to consider an investment in outside enrichment in grades 5 and 6 to catch up to the kids from the more pressure cooker elementary schools before mixing in junior high.

  14. Coc – Aside from the rezoning, the public schools here make too many changes from year to year. They are constantly putting in, taking out magnets, changing magnet locations, changing the school schedules, reassigning the best staff. I as a parent would be totally thrown off by constant change. Instead of focusing on schoolwork the focus is on the peripherals.

  15. Rhett – I phrased that poorly about high school diploma. You are correct that its lack is an important boundary. However, It is an insufficient marker for someone who wants more than a minimum wage job, and an application without relevant experience or some college would likely send an entry level job applicant for sales associate at the Gap to the bottom of the pile.

  16. A school in my city has the reputation Rhett identifies – too intense. The parents tend to be immigrants who came to the US for college or directly for jobs. They believe that US education is not rigorous enough. Though the school has the “highest” ranking from the state, many parents are trying to transfer their kids out. It is an interesting discussion because while the parents lament how bad other schools are, they don’t want their kids to be “pushed” so hard academically.

    Some college does include AA degree (if you click on the legend to read more about the map). I also clicked the chart view for my area – it shows bachelor’s degrees at 30% followed by some college and then graduate degrees.

  17. I love these kinds of maps. DH and I have an ongoing conversation about relocation, and I think the data here is really interesting.

    Right now I am kind of obsessed with Silver City, NM. Partly because I want to have more sun in my life, and partly because we could buy a few big buildings on Main Street, a 5 unit apartment complex and a 4 bedroom home for about 600k. The lack of jobs and AP courses might get to us after the joy of having our own dance hall wears off.

    I think Finn and I had an exchange once about the lack of merit aid in primary and secondary private schools. I think it’s kind of a weird quirk of the system – for some reason it makes sense for colleges to “buy” smart kids to enrich the environment, but it doesn’t make sense for private high schools or below to do the same things. I think Finn said something along the lines of, “Parents are not sending their kids to private school to be surrounded by smart kids” – which kind of made sense. But I still find the principles underlying the distinction interesting.

  18. I’m trying to think of the folks I’ve worked with who had “some college”. One of them is the former sysadmin that I loved to pieces. He is still a sysadmin and probably makes about $70K. Another one is a “project coordinator” at a medical devices firm. She had an AA in computer science from the local community college. No idea what her current job pays, but probably better than minimum wage. Let’s see, one of them is a firefighter down around Durango. He has high school plus a few years in the Navy as a firefighter.

    Another one is in sales and training at United Rentals. I know he makes six figures. He has an AA degree. His wife is an “educational assistant” at one of the local school districts.

    I can’t think of any more right this second.

  19. The map doesn’t surprise me at all. Dallas has become more segregated over time and has the highest income inequality of any city over 250,000 people. I am attending an information session hosted by a group that is seeking to solve some of the issues. Their thought is the socioeconomic segregation is the driving force and that the secondary effect is the racial segregation. It is interesting because there is little urge or desire for upward mobility in many areas and the educational outcomes are poor. Education in our local public schools is definitely not a path out of poverty. We are in a high education, high income district and I really miss the diversity. It is very hard to find diverse (from a racial and socioeconomic perspective) and strong school in Dallas that will tolerate a kid with some special needs.
    https://www.opportunitydallas.org/

  20. I think a lot of it is that education levels correlate with income levels, and people self-segregate based on housing prices. Of course there are ethnic and racial correlations as well.

    The Denver area plotting is pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

  21. On yesterday’s post regarding discounted kindles, is the paperwhite worth the upgrade and do you recommend upgrading to get the version without special offers?

  22. Schools are largely a reflection of the parents in the community. One of our public high schools is among the best ranked in the country and I can tell you – it ‘aint because the school or the teachers are amazing, it is because the parents are highly educated and ensure that their children do well.

  23. It’s also an interesting map to look at population density. There are not predominantly blue-green areas of WY or AK that I could find – because there are so few clusters of people.

  24. Oh, I love Silver City. It’s in a part of the country I love, and I seem to remember that it’s becoming a Sante Fe wannabe, not dissimilar to Bisbee AZ. Back in the day wealthy residents used to send their kids to boarding school in El Paso or other nearby areas.

    In trying to think of people with “some college” that I know, most attended college for a year or two and then dropped out. They are mostly working middle class jobs, retail or administrative. Or they own their own businesses.

  25. I”m not surprised by my location – true middle class blend. Nor am I surprised by Providence – of course all the blue would be near Brown and where the doctors/nurses/hospital folk live. But where the hospitals are is much more diverse.

    “They are constantly putting in, taking out magnets, changing magnet locations, changing the school schedules, reassigning the best staff. I as a parent would be totally thrown off by constant change. Instead of focusing on schoolwork the focus is on the peripherals.”

    Louise – my city is doing something similar, though not that extreme. They recently consolidated the high school and expanded the middle school, but they tried to do all the construction in one summer. The kids started school without classrooms, technology in place, desks, etc. They completely lost a year of education. Instead of cleaning up the mess, the school board has decided its time to consolidate the elementary schools. The school board stopped listening to the parents 2 years ago. I’m not looking forward to when DS starts K in 3 years.

  26. The area I am investing in basically depopulated when the schools were desegregated. The people that are left there are really poor with little education, few job prospects and no resources to change things. I have cheap dirt and great views of downtown from most of the area and it still doesn’t attract developers or corporate relocations.

  27. In trying to think of people with “some college” that I know, most attended college for a year or two and then dropped out. They are mostly working middle class jobs, retail or administrative. Or they own their own businesses.

    Yeah, using my unrepresentative, not-statistically-significant sample, I think that completing an AA or AS, or at least a certificate program, serves you better than just going to college for awhile and dropping out.

  28. “Dallas has become more segregated over time and has the highest income inequality of any city over 250,000 people.” In Texas? I would think other cities, like NYC, are higher.

    “I think Finn said something along the lines of, “Parents are not sending their kids to private school to be surrounded by smart kids” – which kind of made sense.”

    Ada, does this refer to college or high school?

  29. Here, I wouldn’t be surprised if some neighborhoods in the newer surbubs turn majority Asian attracted by some new high performing schools. Once neighborhoods become a certain majority, others are hesitant to move in. I see Newton and Palo Alto (South) happening over time.

  30. I’m trying to think of the folks I’ve worked with who had “some college”.

    Not only do I know a lot of people with some college I even know someone who never graduated from high school (and he’s a senior exec now.)

  31. Grace I am not surprised about our town’s educational (or lack thereof) level! One of my local friends once characterized it as a town of well to do contractors and auto shop owners whose wives spend their summers tanning at the town pool complex. The demographics are changing fast though. When we first moved here, the residents of our block were all small business owners – a plumbing business owner, a autobody shop owner, an exterminator. Only the exterminator is still there. Now we have lawyers, financial people who work in the city, and Japanese corporate relocs.

  32. “completing an AA or AS, serves you better than just going to college for awhile and dropping out.”

    Based on my statistical sample of 1, I agree completely. Since DS1 got his AA at the end of the year he not only got an new job that he loves, but he’s been approached by several people interested in talking to him about working for them.

    Looking around the map, San Francisco proper really strikes me. Such a large amount of its area is blue/green. Chinatown red. Southern part, near the border with San Mateo County red/orange/yellow.

    Otherwise, the Bay Area, LA/Orange County, and where I am now are exactly as I would have thought.

  33. Our community college offers a mix of AA/AS and certificate programs. Many of the certificate programs are stepping stones to the AA/AS. For example – in child development the certificate is 30 hours. The certificate gets you in the door to the higher paying child care programs. Every course in the certificate is also in the AS degree of 60 hours. One of my DD’s child care teachers went from certificate (got her the job) to AS (got her to be lead teacher in the room) to BS (which got her to center director). The AS and BS were done while working and taking advantage of the small tuition reimbursement the center offered, plus she was using her GI bill benefits from serving in the army.

    A nurse I know did something similiar working from a vocational nurse up through an advance practice nurse – getting your foot in the door and using the employer and GI bill benefits to move up in your career field.

    While for some people “some college” is sufficient for their “ideal” job, it is purely a stepping stone for others.

  34. ”’However, most of us do seek to live among people with values similar to ours, so usually higher education is important.’

    Right. For me, I think higher education is much more important than income as far as aligning “values” to my own. I don’t actually want to be surrounded by only rich people, and I have no interest in sending DS to one of the more “elite” schools that are primarily full of wealthy kids.”

    This. We chose an economically mixed area for this very reason. I don’t want my kids to live in such a bubble that they assume everyone makes six figures (or that there is something wrong with those who don’t); at the same time, I do want them surrounded by a peer group that generally values education and knowledge.

    I will say I was surprised my little pocket wasn’t more tilted blue, but the overall shading is accurate — there is a distinct red/yellow line that stops at the beltway and then morphs to blue the farther S and W you go (though that’s a little misleading, because the other side of the beltway is a college and an institution, followed by an elementary school, high school, golf course, another college, and then a state park, so there’s sort of a triangle that butts up against 695 with not so many people living in it). I’m also not entirely sure about the accuracy of their data at the close-up level, as they appear to show over 200 people living on the golf course. :-)

    I was surprised that Baltimore in general was so strongly N/S in terms of higher ed, although, again, that does make sense when I think of where people I know live. The huge surprise is Locust Point/other areas S of the harbor but N of 695 — that used to be a very working-class neighborhood. I’d heard it was redeveloped and was surprised by all the condos when I had to divert down to Key Highway a few nights because of horrible I-95 construction, but this map really shows how strongly that has become the hip new area for well-educated Millennials.

  35. I think the statistic might be based on city versus MSA. Depends on the list you are looking at but our city’s median income has been going down and I don’t think that’s the case for SF or NYC.

  36. The NYC selective public high schools are now 57% Asian and this is viewed as a serious problem according to this NYT article from last week.
    The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools

    The top-rated comment to the article is from an Asian-American mom.

  37. CoC, I think I have mentioned before that I know two Chinese families who moved to our town only to subsequently move to one of our higher achieving neighbors because they didn’t think our schools are rigorous enough. The Japanese relocs are OK with the school but most of them supplement with weekend Japanese school and many send their kids back to Japan for high school

  38. My area has blue, then green and I see one orange dot. We bought our house because we had always loved our neighborhood and wanted to be zoned for a specific elementary school. There are people that have lived here for 50 years in their original ranches and then my generation is buying them and knocking them down.

    I have no desire for my children to be in pressure cooker schools – I still think high school should be sort of fun.

  39. Interesting article COC. We just finished the high school magnet application process for DS2. Less intense, but not dissimilar to the NYC process.

  40. Our new area is way more mixed (albeit with fewer people) than our old neighborhood, which is basically all blue. I like having the kids in a more economically diverse school.

    Meme, we run into those parents a lot at our kids’ after-school enrichment class. ;)

  41. Ada mentioned her and Finn’s surprise that elite private secondary schools don’t offer merit aid. Well, they don’t have to, just as Harvard and Princeton don’t have to. And at least in my family’s case, the school’s need based aid was directed to students that were not underrepresented by race, zip code, ethnicity/national origin, or lack of family cultural capital. Perhaps that could be considered a form a merit aid, but since the kids were 9 years old when they applied, it is pretty difficult to judge that even with entrance exams and recommendations. And the main drawback to the school was that it was full of rich kids, not that it was full of smart kids.

  42. Hey Rhett, the Echo Look and the Echo Show have just been released. Go look at the ads on the website. I was just poking at my friend who works at Amazon about the ethnic differences between the actors in the one ad and the actors in the other. The Echo Look seems to be entirely about taking selfies, keeping track of your outfits, comparing your outfits to style guides, and so on.

  43. someone above asked about the paperwhite. Yes, it is worth it. It is the best reading experience out there short of an actual hardcover book. It is much better than the cheapest Kindle.

  44. I think in some cultures, valuing knowledge can mean it’s OK to join the military or become an auto mechanic. In other cultures, valuing knowledge does not include joining the military or becoming an auto mechanic as career paths. Sitting near me, I have two colleagues whose sons were in the military (and/or were military contractors) in Iraq/Afghanistan and two colleagues whose sons have or are getting graduate degrees.

    I agree that to the extent “some college” means an associate’s degree in mechatronics or an RN, people are better off than they are with a bachelor’s degree with a marginal ROI.

  45. My complaint about the Paperwhite is that I don’t like that touchscreen — I prefer the buttons on the oldest models. Also, I liked the headphone jack on the oldest model. Nevertheless, I use my Paperwhite a fair amount. And it is very good in weird lighting conditions.

  46. “It seems that we all want diverse neighborhoods…but not too diverse.”

    Not sure that’s true. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a neighborhood where people didn’t go to college and that isn’t the expectation — true. But I’d call that NON-diverse.

  47. an exterminator

    Last night on House Hunters – wife is a professional photographer, husband is a late 20s early 30s exterminator, price range? $1.5 million.

  48. Our exterminator, our next door neighbor, owns a house that in New England would be called a triple decker. He rents out two floors of it. The house is large but ugly. The two car detached garage is filled not with cars but with stacks and stacks of canisters of scary looking chemicals. There are usually 5 or 6 cars in the driveway, some in various states of repair. It isn’t at all what you might picture in Westchester County

  49. “It seems that we all want diverse neighborhoods…but not too diverse.”

    I would argue that I want to live in a diverse neighborhood, but one where there are both others like me and not like me. Maybe that’s a fine distinction. But I am fine with having a true mix of ethnicity/income/race/education/religions, but I am not comfortable being the only white person, the only agnostic ex-Christian, the only person who has a bachelor’s degree (and only that), or the only UMC person.

    “And the main drawback to the school was that it was full of rich kids, not that it was full of smart kids.”

    We avoided certain schools for this very reason. That doesn’t mean that DS’ school isn’t relatively full of rich kids, but it’s a matter of degree.

  50. I didn’t find this map surprising until I really noticed how much red there is by us. My kids aren’t in high school yet, but I certainly don’t think people drop out much around here. I think the red dots are in areas where there tends to be an older population, so maybe that explains it. Women who married young and/or men who were drafted?

  51. “And the main drawback to the school was that it was full of rich kids, not that it was full of smart kids.”
    My mother taught in a private school, the one that the governor and a lot of area wealthy people sent their kids to, and that is pretty much what she always said about it.

  52. “Not sure that’s true. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a neighborhood where people didn’t go to college and that isn’t the expectation — true. But I’d call that NON-diverse.”

    Yeah, that’s what I mean too. :)

    As for “some college” – I have plenty of examples of that in my family, both the older & younger generation. There are definitely big differences between someone who is a Dental Hygienist or HVAC tech and someone who futzed around and dropped out of college with the former being vastly more employable and having higher incomes. But no one is buying a $1.5MM house or a house in MM’s neighborhood.

  53. ilengr, I first saw this map a few days ago and I definitely thought that education-level-by-age would make it more interesting. It would be interesting to have more detail on non-college skilled career paths included as well. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs had an interesting post about the Kentucky Derby jockeys yesterday.

  54. “Exterminator” is one of the jobs in Millionaire Next Door that supposedly leads to wealth pretty quickly.

  55. “Exterminator” is one of the jobs in Millionaire Next Door that supposedly leads to wealth pretty quickly.

    I think it really depends on whether you own the company or are running around with the chemical truck.

  56. This guy owns the company. But I can’t tell if he is wealthy from it or not. If he was, why would he be renting floors of his house? Why are his cars so beat up? I doubt he is poor, though. Mainly, he is just weird and really mean. He yells at people a lot.

  57. But I can’t tell if he is wealthy from it or not. If he was, why would he be renting floors of his house? Why are his cars so beat up?

    Did you read Millionaire Next Door? That’s exactly what those guys do.

  58. Why are his cars so beat up?

    Buying new cars is a hassle, expensive and doesn’t generate income.

  59. Yes, that exterminator millionaire next door is the exact opposite of all the residents in this town driving new Escalades and spending tens of thousands for window treatments. Some of those Escalade drivers could be termed the “overextended next door”.

    L, do you like your kids’ school? Have you met many parents?

  60. Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president for devices, said its Echo products were part of a category of “ambient computing” — devices that can be controlled in a communal setting, like inside a home or a car, primarily with voice.

    It’s basically the computer for Star Trek: TNG! Oh Gene Roddenberry you were such a visionary.

  61. Yes, that exterminator millionaire next door is the exact opposite of all the residents in this town driving new Escalades and spending tens of thousands for window treatments.

    I don’t know about that, many of those businesses throw off a lot more money than you would think. I ran into a friend of a friend at the boat show with one of those business and he retired in his late 40s after selling his business and was buying a big new boat.

  62. It’s basically the computer for Star Trek: TNG! Oh Gene Roddenberry you were such a visionary.

    Rhett, I assume you’ve asked your Echo for tea, Earl Grey, hot. If you haven’t, you should try it.

  63. Our specific neighborhood has a high concentration of blue, but the area the middle and high schools draw from is much more mixed. The honors classes at school cluster the kids with the more highly educated parents, but also the kids in the striving immigrant category whose parents may not have had the same level of education themselves that they’re encouraging for their kids.

    City-wide, the pattern looks about as I would expect. But the map designers needed to make those colors pop more. The red and blue both seem to disappear into the gray background.

  64. HAHAH, “The replicators on this vessel are offline.”

    I worked at a place that had Voycera (which is the badge from TNG). If you asked it to beam you up it would make the noise. It’s primary function however being to call or locate people. “Locate HM.” “HM is in conference room 5-GS-12.”

  65. Well, if the exterminator really is a millionaire next door, I think that following the millionaire next door philosophy may not lead to happiness.. He does not seem to enjoy life very much. Very dour and grumpy.

  66. From the book When Breath Becomes Air….

    Before we moved, my older brother, Suman, had nearly completed high school in Westchester County, where elite colleges were the expectation. He was accepted to Stanford shortly after arriving in Kingman and left the house soon thereafter. But Kingman, we learned, was not Westchester. As my mother surveyed the Mohave County public school system, she became distraught. The U.S. census had recently identified Kingman as the least educated district in America. The high school dropout rate was somewhere north of 30 percent. Few students went on to college, and certainly none to Harvard, my father’s standard of excellence. Looking for advice, my mother called her friends and relatives from wealthy East Coast suburbs and found some sympathetic, others gleeful that their children no longer had to compete with the suddenly education-starved Kalanithis.

    At night, she broke into tears, sobbing alone in her bed. My mother, afraid the impoverished school system would hobble her children, acquired, from somewhere, a “college prep reading list.” Trained in India to be a physiologist, married at twenty-three, and preoccupied with raising three kids in a country that was not her own, she had not read many of the books on the list herself. But she would make sure her kids were not deprived. She made me read 1984 when I was ten years old; I was scandalized by the sex, but it also instilled in me a deep love of, and care for, language.

    Endless books and authors followed, as we worked our way methodically down the list: The Count of Monte Cristo, Edgar Allan Poe, Robinson Crusoe, Ivanhoe, Gogol, The Last of the Mohicans, Dickens, Twain, Austen, Billy Budd…By the time I was twelve, I was picking them out myself, and my brother Suman was sending me the books he had read in college: The Prince, Don Quixote, Candide, Le Morte D’Arthur, Beowulf, Thoreau, Sartre, Camus. Some left more of a mark than others. Brave New World founded my nascent moral philosophy and became the subject of my college admissions essay, in which I argued that happiness was not the point of life. Hamlet bore me a thousand times through the usual adolescent crises. “To His Coy Mistress” and other romantic poems led me and my friends on various joyful misadventures throughout high school—we often sneaked out at night to, for example, sing “American Pie” beneath the window of the captain of the cheerleading team. (Her father was a local minister and so, we reasoned, less likely to shoot.) After I was caught returning at dawn from one such late-night escapade, my worried mother thoroughly interrogated me regarding every drug teenagers take, never suspecting that the most intoxicating thing I’d experienced, by far, was the volume of romantic poetry she’d handed me the previous week. Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.

    In her quest to see that her children were educated, my mom drove us more than a hundred miles north, to the nearest big city, Las Vegas, so we could take our PSATs, SATs, and ACTs. She joined the school board, rallied teachers, and demanded that AP classes be added to the curriculum. She was a phenom: she took it upon herself to transform the Kingman school system, and she did. Suddenly there was a feeling in our high school that the two mountain ranges that bounded the town no longer defined the horizon: it was what lay beyond them.

    Senior year, my close friend Leo, our salutatorian and the poorest kid I knew, was advised by the school guidance counselor, “You’re smart—you should join the army.”

    He told me about it afterward. “Fuck that,” he said. “If you’re going to Harvard, or Yale, or Stanford, then I am, too.”

    I don’t know if I was happier when I got into Stanford or when Leo got into Yale.

  67. HM,

    I’m this close to replacing our perfectly good Roomba with a new one just because you can use Alexa to control it. “Alexa – clean living room.” ‘Boo doop a doo – vrrrrrrrrr.” It looks like the new ones have maps so you can tell it what room to clean. Oh how I love gadgets.

  68. MM, you town is changing, and I think it is similar to the changes that are happening in my town. That short train ride is very tempting to anyone moving up from the city, and they are getting priced out of the towns with all of the green/blue dots around us. My town has already started the transition to blue/green dots, and it looks like your town is following because location, location, location really is everything when you have good schools and a good commute.

    This map doesn’t surprise me, but it is depressing. I read that article about NYC schools, and the whole system is just so unfair. My daughter we sick last week and missed a day of the state test for math. It is three days, but if you miss it my town – it doesn’t really matter unless you need support services. On the other hand, one of her camp friends that lives in NYC was also sick ands had to miss a day of the state test. Her mom was freaking out because the results from the state ELA and math test in 7th grade is used for placement into some of the NYC high schools. This mom knows the system, so she didn’t allow her daughter to take the test when she was sick. She had her wait until this week when she could take a makeup when she was healthy. A parent without this knowledge might not be aware of the importance of the state test until it is too late. The whole system in some of the largest cities is still hard to navigate unless you’re already a highly educated parent.

    We attended the grade wide band concert last night at my DD’s school. I noticed that the same kids that had the solos were also the kids that are in honors accelerated math. They were also the same kids that were taking band after school in one of the music enrichment programs. The same kids were also named last month as the winners of most of the awards at the Science Olympiad. My district offers the same opportunities to most children, but certain kids are either driven to achieve more, OR their parents are pushing them to excel in every area. There was only one kid in this group of approximately same ten kids that had a parent that was born in the USA.

  69. “I noticed that the same kids that had the solos were also the kids that are in honors accelerated math. They were also the same kids that were taking band after school in one of the music enrichment programs. The same kids were also named last month as the winners of most of the awards at the Science Olympiad”
    This is absolutely true in our town too. Honestly, it was true even in the high schools I attended back in the day.

  70. My goal was to put my oldest DD in a place where she was not the smartest kid in the grade. We found that place in her high school. She complains about the kids who don’t try and don’t care, and complain about poor grades. But, she is finally in several classes she is in the top half, but not top quarter. This has been beneficial as we look at colleges. She says her comfort level is to be at least in the top third of any class she takes. She says she realizes she learns more if she is not the top student and tries harder.

  71. Maps like this are at least in part a result of zoning to limit density and preserve neighborhood character. When I’ve walked in San Francisco, I’ve compared it to pictures of Asian cities and pondered the effects of preserving San Francisco’s architecture on housing prices.

    Do you think a goal of zoning/urban planning should be to allow a range of housing options for people with moderate incomes? Do you think zoning changes should occur as a response to unaffordable housing? On the West Coast, green space/wildlife habitat/farmland is preserved as a result of such zoning decisions. I don’t know if the East Coast has similar zoning priorities or if Oregon/California have unique zoning priorities.

  72. WCE, At a certain point, governments are going to have to override excessive zoning and NIMBY-ism to build more housing. I think this will be a good thing, if people had the guts to do this. I’d also like to see more public housing in UMC neighborhoods. It’s shown that kids who grow up with good schools have a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.

  73. “The whole system in some of the largest cities is still hard to navigate unless you’re already a highly educated parent.”

    Yes. Absolutely. Here, they try to balance it a little by having quotas by socioeconomic tier as determined by the student’s home address. It is not perfect of course, but I think it’s a decent attempt to balance some of that out.

  74. WCE, At a certain point, governments are going to have to override excessive zoning and NIMBY-ism to build more housing.

    Palo Alto’s collective head is exploding over this issue.

  75. Not trying to put words in Finn’s mouth (in case he comes along today, he can speak for himself).

    More that the central idea is that the lower school education system is not about trying to pick the smartest peers for your kids, but peers based on some other characteristics. If average entrance score or other such things played a role, then there would be an opportunity for high-achieving, too-rich-to-qualify-for-financial-aid scholarship kids. With very limited exception (the UWC schools being the only I know of), a very bright 16 year old can go to public school or wherever his/her parents can afford. A very bright 18 year old has many options for education.

    Of cours Harvard doesn’t offer merit aid and neither does Harvard Prep Elementary. However, Mid Range Private has all kinds of merit aid. The equivalent elementary school does not.

  76. K-12 private school is ineligible for federal loans and the schools often have religious roots.

  77. There’s not the equivalent of the 20 full tuition scholarships that Trinity offers incoming Freshman each year. I’m not saying there should be, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a philosophical stance where we do that for kids at Trinity, but not for kids at Aspirational Private high school.

  78. Isn’t water one of the big issues in the West? I had always heard that density is limited because of limited water.

  79. Sufficient water is not a problem in western Oregon, some of which is classified as temperate rainforest. One of the objections to the Clean Water Act is that too much land qualifies as “wetland” under federal law, which requires water to be present for a certain number of days per year.

    The states along the Colorado River and California south of ~Redding or ~Sacramento have more limited water. Redwood National Park (in California) is more like Oregon, water-wise.

  80. Umm, possibly not the Clean Water Act, possible whatever other act defines “wetland” under federal law.

  81. Mooshi…water is an issue, but not one that limits population density. San Francisco Bay Area and LA import almost all their water supplies.

  82. If they are importing all their water supplies, then I would think limiting population growth would be a priority, no?

  83. Oregon and Washington and very wet. Parts of the intermountain west are just a long way from anywhere. One of the things that struck me about the east coast last month was how many rivers and natural harbors there were. Not so many on the west coast.

    The pacific is much bigger than the Atlantic. It’s much easier to get to Europe from the east coast than to Japan from the west.

  84. Mooshi….the urban areas have found it much more productive to take water from the rural areas than to limit growth.

  85. Oregon has quite a lot of rivers. I agree that there are very few harbors.

  86. I am thinking more of California. I lived in Seattle so I know it is really wet. It is getting a lot denser too, though not as dense as Vancouver which is similar. Both cities, though, are limited by topography.

  87. teading quickly today but the question why private K-12 schools don’t offer much financial aid is easy to answer. They don’t have the funding that colleges and universities do. Most are operating on shoestrings even with mostly full pay students.

  88. The Catholic Church subsidizes its schools so in some sense students are receiving financial aid to attend.

  89. Availability of water has limited housing development on Maui. Hawai’i Island also has water availability issues that make it difficult to get watery meters, but people there get around that with catchment systems.

  90. Fresh Air interviewed David Owen on April 13 about his new book ‘Where The Water Goes’. Seven states take water from the Colorado River so it is bone dry before it reaches Mexico and no longer supplies people there. Furthermore, other areas that got water from leaking pipes are no longer viable because the pipes are better and don’t leak so ecosystems are dying along the various pipelines. The worse thing is that when they did the water rights, it was an abnormal year and the river was swollen and does not on average have that much water.. Thirty six million people live off the Colorado River and it won’t sustain that many people long-term. California should be looking at ways to desalinate the Pacific to handle its water needs but that is an expensive proposition.

  91. WCE, At a certain point, governments are going to have to override excessive zoning and NIMBY-ism to build more housing.

    “Palo Alto’s collective head is exploding over this issue.”

    Our county has been dealing with this issue for several years after a federal lawsuit found segregation based on disparate impact. For many people it’s an admirable concept until they learn about plans for low-income multi-family housing on their street and discover how taxes will rise again to deal with schools enrolling new ELL students.

  92. CofC,

    Building more housing doesn’t mean building low income housing. In SF for example, the opposition comes from replacing the poor with the rich.

  93. Rhett – what about mixed developments where low income housing units are dispersed and not concentrated in pockets. I think a lot of the issues come from concentrations of low income housing. Now that city planners have the experience, I would think no cities would opt for blocks of low income housing but apartments scattered throughout different neighborhoods. This would enable kids to attend their zoned schools but the schools would be mixed income mirroring the neighborhood.

  94. Section 8 (the NYT mag articles mentioned jurisdictions where the waiting list is 11 years) is the main vehicle for housing families. Modern occupancy restrictions mean that unless you are already living in an apartment as family size increases or children age (and this applies to public housing and middle class complexes with a buy in such as New York City Mitchell-Lama housing), you must have no more than 2 kids to a bedroom, and after a certain age separate bedrooms for children of the opposite sex. There are few apartments with three bedrooms in any standard complexes. In Cambridge, a few townhouses were built for large families (nice places, geared toward the lower middle classes), but that is an exception.

  95. Rhett – what about mixed developments where low income housing units are dispersed and not concentrated in pockets

    That’s fine too. But, the primary goal should be to build more at whatever price point the market demands. Even if you build 10,000 $1 million dollar units, the the old $1 million dollar units start selling for 950k, the old 950k for 900k, all the way down to the $200k. I don’t think it’s especially productive to focus primarily on building below market units.

  96. And if your adult children continue to live with you in a project, they are going to have to work under the table because rent is tied to total family income and if you do too well you eventually have to move out. As for the middle class (true middle class, not inflated bicoastal) co-ops in NY, three of our family members live in them. The apartments are small, and there isn’t potential for wealth accumulation, but they are yours to remodel within guidelines and live in for the rest of your life. Here is one where two generations live in separate apartments

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7472235,-74.0010031,3a,90y,90.42h,94.76t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRkwPYwxVsOCwFOAmR7O22w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

  97. Here, (not sure about Section 8 housing) but housing is being built at different price points within the same community. So, there are apartments for rent, town houses, condos, houses at different price points in the same community. It does increase the need for schools and in increases traffic to an extent within the shopping areas but more of a mix of people can afford to live in each neighborhood instead of being exclusively of one income level.

  98. Scholarships at private elementary/middle/high schools. It depends. Many that are religious based have some discount for church/denomination members while non-members pay the full cost, the “discount” is then covered by the fundraising efforts. DD#1’s school has a large “fill the gap” campaign each year. This process allows people to draw on employer matches, etc. However, when I asked the question of don’t non-denomination members pay the full amount? I was told yes and the president took all full-pay families off of the “nag for money” list. We are made away of it, but not guilt-ed in the same way.

    In other cases, the school expects you to give the amount of your discount to the church in you regular contributions. This tends to favor you tax-wise vs. a tuition payment. Sometimes a feeder church will offer the class valedictorian of the middle school a partial scholar ship to the high school that tends not to be associated with a single church. Lastly, some (including our elementary/middle) do have a scholarship fund and a financial aid process. It is not a lot, but it is need based. Part of the proceeds from the annual uniform resale go to this fund for example, plus some people donate directly.

    However, not of this is any where near the level of colleges.

  99. A lot of the big private k-12s around my area give out quite a bit of financial aid. Even the preschool that my kids attend(ed) gives out financial aid.

  100. Meme,

    In the NY Times article I was struck by the family of five in Dorchester making $50k a year. I guess their tax burden is pretty low so that closes some of the gap but still. I guess they are professional Presbyterians in a similar vein to Scarlett’s professional Catholics.

  101. Kate,

    The question I think was merit aid. Should a soon to be NMSF get 15k off tuition even thought his parents make $300k?

  102. They definitely will give more to those they want to attract/retain. And a $300k income often will get some aid if they have more than 1 child. It is sometimes a sore spot for those who contribute.

  103. ^my point above is that at these schools, it often isn’t a formulaic calculation to determine aid. There is a lot of art and value placed on the student/what he/she and family contribute to the school.

  104. “If they are importing all their water supplies, then I would think limiting population growth would be a priority, no?”

    You’d think. But the issue is externalities. Per the above, CA gets a ton of water from the CO river — in fact, due to a very old deal, CA has priority to that water over and above the local residents who live along that river. So why is CA going to care what happens in CO or UT? Recent evidence suggests that watering restrictions and the like are about as politically popular as higher gasoline prices.

  105. Total off-topic rant: DD broke her phone. Again. Her last one went on the fritz, we ended up getting a replacement for it about a year ago; then this one started not responding when you touched the screen. So, being a teenager, she decided maybe it was the case, and took it off. Insert mom warning: do NOT carry the phone around texting without the case. Which, of course, she did. Which, of course, led to it slipping out of her belt, crashing to the floor, and totally shattering the screen. Which, of course, means that we cannot take it to Apple and ask them to fix a defect, because now it looks like the phone doesn’t work because she freaking broke it.

    So last night, DH took her to the store for a replacement phone. Many, many texts: they had an old 5 for like $200, or a brand new model for $650. She didn’t want the old one. I said, hey, it’s her money, if she wants to [work an entire year at her aide job/work all summer at camp] for a stupid phone, that’s her choice, but it’s stupid. And I told DH that she could damn well pay for whatever she wanted. (Seriously, this is like the 4th phone in 4 years, and it was total, pre-warned carelessness — I am NOT bailing her out on this).

    So, of course, DH found an in-between option (a 6), and he negotiated a deal with her, where she agreed to pay part and he (I assume) agreed to pay part. I am pissed. I swear, for someone who proudly thinks of himself as a hard-ass, he sure gets wrapped around her finger sometimes.

    The only saving grace is the contract he had her sign, which at least amused me:

    “I, [name], of my own free will and desperation for a phone do agree to the following:

    I shall receive:
    1) An iPhone 6 (new) with Otterbox protection (for my own good)
    2) I shall receive tech support in setting this phone up

    As payment for this, I shall:
    A. Deliver to my honored father, a crisp $20 bill every 15th of the month for 12 months. I shall listen to 1 “I told you so” at this time.
    B. Deliver a cooked meal, challah or dessert to the family, at the family’s choice, once a month for 12 months
    a. In addition, I shall clean up my own cooking items so as not to be a burden to my parents

    Furthermore, in the event that I destroy my phone in the next 12 months I am still required to complete this contract. I will also need to replace the phone at my own expense (cash).”

  106. For those who like House Hunters, there is Escape to the country on Netflix. I love looking at English cottages and the countryside. The houses are all so different. Buyers are low key.

  107. FYI – Saudi Arabia is the largest producer of desalinated water in the world. In 2011 the volume of water supplied by the country’s 27 desalination plants at 17 locations was 3.3 million m3/day (1.2 billion m3/year). 6 plants are located on the East Coast and 21 plants on the Red Sea Coast. 12 plants use multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) and 7 plants use multi-effect distillation (MED). Both MSF and MED plants are integrated with power plants (dual-purpose plants), using steam from the power plants as a source of energy. 8 plants are single-purpose plants that use reverse osmosis (RO) technology and power from the grid.

    This has been in the works since the mid-1960s.

  108. Which, of course, means that we cannot take it to Apple and ask them to fix a defect, because now it looks like the phone doesn’t work because she freaking broke it.

    Did she have Applecare? IIRC that now covers two at fault issue: dropped in the toilet, dropped on the sidewalk, etc.

  109. @Rhett — I don’t think so, I think she had used it on the last phone and so this one was on us. But they went to the Apple store, so if there had been any coverage, they’d have gotten it.

  110. Laura,

    I have insurance on all our phones, because we are very fallible humans in the Pseudo household. DH has run his phone through a harvester and completely lost one in a field. It is still in the field somewhere. I’ve run one through the washing machine. DD1 had one fly out of her pocket on an amusement park ride, DD2 left one on the top of the car. DS gloats that he had not wrecked a phone, but it is only a matter of time.

    Wouldn’t it be easier, especially since as I recall your daughter has other challenges, to accept that things get broken and just get the insurance?

  111. @Pseudonym — Yep. And they got it before — she’s had at least one, if not two, replaced under that coverage. I think they just ran out of coverage or something. IDK the specifics, DH handles that.

  112. Laura, that’s a great contract.

    Amazingly, we’ve only had one lost or broken phone in the four years since the kids first got them (and that include DW and I). DS had it fall out of his pocket when he and his friends were running back to school because they were late from going out to lunch. I actually stuck to it and made him pay for a new one. He got a used one off swappa.com (great place to buy and sell used phones) for $100 or something like that. He decided it wasn’t worth paying more a bigger/newer one when it was his own money.

  113. Apple care covers two replacements, but some phone companies offer different insurance plans. The fire department brings a carnival to town every year as a fundraiser. I know that three of my friends had to replace phones after their kids went on this large circle ride where the riders are turned upside down. It was a new ride so these kids didn’t seem to realize that their phones might fall out and crash to the ground.

  114. “Should a soon to be NMSF get 15k off tuition even thought his parents make $300k?”

    Yes, if the payback to attracting this student is more that $15k.

  115. “Ada mentioned her and Finn’s surprise that elite private secondary schools don’t offer merit aid. Well, they don’t have to, just as Harvard and Princeton don’t have to.”

    I don’t recall this discussion, but it’s not surprising to me now. I would suggest that schools that offer merit aid may not be truly elite.

    One local elite is trying to build its endowment to facilitate implementation of the HSS model of truly need-blind admissions. Another local private has such a large endowment that it is nearly free to all of its students.

  116. “I think Finn said something along the lines of, “Parents are not sending their kids to private school to be surrounded by smart kids” – which kind of made sense.”

    Did I say that? I’m glad it made sense in context.

    Undoubtedly some parents of smart kids are sending them to private schools to be surrounded by smart kids, and thus also to be in schools with critical mass to offer classes suitable for those smart kids.

    But OTOH, why would parents whose kids aren’t so smart want to send their kids where they’d be surrounded by smart kids?

    And there are private schools that aren’t full of smart kids. Informed parents are not sending their kids to those schools to be surrounded by smart kids.

  117. I suspect many of the people I know who send their kids to private school do it because they want their kids to be college ready and they have kids who can be college ready if they go to a private school where average kids get teacher attention in a class of 15 but not necessarily if they go to a public school where average kids get minimal teacher attention in a class of 28.

Comments are closed.