It’s True according to a new DC Report: “once DC residents have their first child they’re more likely to leave the city”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

From an email:

“D.C. Parenthood: Who Stays and Who Leaves?

For the analysis I tracked people from 2001 to 2012 in D.C.’s local income tax data.

The analysis suggests that:

· Once D.C. residents have their first child they’re more likely to leave the city than other residents.

· The first four years after having a child is when parents are more inclined to leave compared to the rest of residents. After that, exit rates drop to near or below those of the general population.

· New parents today appear to leave the city at rates similar to the rates of people who became new parents in early 2000’s.

· Middle-income new parents are more likely to leave D.C. than low- and high-income new parents.

· The neighborhoods that lose the largest portion of new parents are downtown or close to the city’s center. Zip codes 20011 (Brightwood Park, Petworth) and 20002 (Capitol Hill, Eckington, Kingman Park, Trinidad) are the most popular among new parents paying taxes in the city, both the year their first child is born and five years later.”

Read the full report below:

D.C. Parenthood – Who Stays and Who Leaves (PDF)

176 Comment

  • In case anyone else was wondering who put together this report — it’s by Ginger Moored and Lori Metcalf, both of the D.C. government’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

  • Yeah, color me surprised. And before age 5, you say? Shocking. (that’s sarcasm right there)

    • Don’t tell me that anyone is surprised that families leave DC before it’s time to put their kids in public school.

  • Bring better schools to Petworth and young parents will not leave Petworth. Simple as that. We want to stay, but we are considering leaving because the schools are not good enough.

    • Powell Elementary is a very highly-regarded school that covers much of Petworth and 16th St Heights. Beyond that, some folks (myself included) are lucky enough to be in-bounds for Deal, which currently allows you to sen your kids to Wilson. Gray wanted to change boundaries in a way that would have forced all kids in Crestwood and 16th St Heights to attend Roosevelt; I personally hope that doesn’t come to be before my kid is high-school aged. While I appreciate the huge new plans for Roosevelt will be a great carrot to get more neighborhood kids in there, I don’t appreciate the stick approach.

    • The way I read this, Petworth (20011) is the neighborhood with the highest number of parents staying, not leaving.

      • From the map on page 11 of the report, it looks as though _all_ D.C. neighborhoods have some percentage of new parents leaving — between 11% and 85%. Among the D.C. zip codes, 20011 has a below-average rate of loss — looks to be maybe 30% — but it’s still a loss.

      • The zip codes with the lowest rate of loss are 20016 (Spring Valley, Tenleytown, AU Park, Cathedral Heights) and 20018 (Woodridge, Brentwood, Langdon, Gateway, Fort Lincoln).

  • sorely needed and way overdue repairs needed to the total DC school system, not many family oriented spaces, lack of true visible, transparent, or reliable leadership in any capacity. Sketchy, to say the least, public transportation. No real assemblance of community continuity or longterm goal setting.
    Development shoved down the throats of long time residents without credence given to neighborhood or cultural growth, dollar signs seen first and foremost and people’s lives very second back burner, if thought out at all…I truly miss the old DC.

    • Good lord, why do you even live here? You make it sound like hell.
      For what it’s worth I think the public transportation is among the best in the country. That’s a low bar, granted, but I’m not sure what idyllic places people are relocating to that don’t have any of these issues and better public transit to boot.

      • Ditto re. public transportation.

        • Also, there are tons of high quality, new playgrounds, the Takoma and Turkey Thicket Aquatic centers are awesome. The city provides quite a few opportunities for recreation for kids and families. The problem is one word: schools.

      • +1. Also, the Mall? The Smithsonian? Some of the most amazing public amenities I can imagine for someone raising kids in the city. What kid doesn’t love going to see dinosaurs? Or the botanical gardens? Anyplace is what you make of it, and D.C. has more assets than most places.

        • Yeah, but you don’t have to live in DC to visit those places. If the quality of schools is the reason for the move, especially if you live in an area of DC where the zoned school isn’t so hot, that makes sense to me.

          • I was merely responding to the “not many family-oriented spaces.” And dollar for dollar it’s much easier to get to these places from most of D.C. Some parts of Arlington are very close to the Mall, but those ‘hoods are not affordable for most people.

    • Cities and neighborhoods change. If development was stalled at the behest of long-time residents that don’t want to see change, especially homeowners who aren’t as subject to price increases, then younger and newer residents would be excluded from enjoying the very same city/neighborhood that you enjoy. I’m not arguing for unregulated development, but imagine what prices would be in a sought-after city/neighborhood that didn’t add any new supply.

    • You blast DC for its public transport and schools, both of which are improving (charter expansion and renovation of public schools; Metrorail expansion, creation of Circulators and Bikeshare on the transport side) and yet you miss the old DC. *head explodes*

      • I don’t think anyone could make a serious argument that Metro is improving (even before their latest killing/debacle this week). Don’t even get me started on that one. The city has a lot of problems- look no further than the DCFD or the well-documented parking ticket racket they’re running. And charter schools, as people need to understand, do not mean good schools. Look no further than the substandard charter school (where only 35-47 percent of their 8th and 10th graders are “proficient”- a lousy low bar- in math, science, and reading) that produced the hoodlum who stabbed a commuter bicyclist on his way home from work. BTW, I looked at this school’s scores and was immediately suspicious that they had a 100% increase in proficiency in one year’s time in one subject- they went from like 17% proficient to 35% proficient. Color me skeptical.

        • The point remains that both schools and DC public transport are better now than in the past. Or at least any past I have experienced over the past 15 years. Now, that is not to say that either are ideal or even good, but I can’t wrap my head thinking that any past iterations of either is preferable to the present.

  • gotryit

    Soo… how about putting more money towards our schools in 20011?

    Also, they’re missing a few neighborhoods in 20011… 16th street heights and Crestwood

    • And Fort Totten, Michigan Park

      • Ehhh, I think they’re just naming the most recognizable neighborhoods in each zip code. It would get a little unwieldy to name 4-6 neighborhoods rather than just 2-3.

    • More money? Educate yourself. DC has one of the highest $$/child in the country. More money isn’t always the answer. DC needs to figure out how to better spend the money to enhance the education.

      • gotryit

        Thanks, I know a fair amount about the schools in my area. There is a whole lot that is being done with additional money that directly benefits the kids at our school.
        You compare our costs per child to the rest of the country. Yeah – things cost more in DC. Real estate, teachers (who I’m very happy to pay well and have live in our neighborhoods), etc. DC is more expensive than Kentucky.

        • +1. Also people making the same argument as Dupont are comparing D.C. with states. There are many DISTRICTS that spend more than D.C., and many of those places do not face the challenges that D.C. does.

    • I used to think that a big part of the problem with D.C. schools was lack of money, but then I read that the D.C. government’s per-capita spending on students is actually really high. So apparently that’s not it.
      I’m wondering if a lot of DCPS’s money goes into bureaucracy, rather than actually being spent on schools/students.

      • I think it is a combination of things. From a DCPS teacher I know, she mentioned ridiculous things about supplies being warehoused, but never used, or admin staff with questionable jobs. But more importantly, DCPS serves a very hard-to-teach/manage population. A Teach for American teacher I knew had many depressing stories of trying to curb violence and just keep second graders quiet. She spent most of her two years just trying to keep order, and teaching had to take a backseat. I’m sure they have a lot of bad teachers (an issue Rhee tried to address), but you need to also factor in the kinds of kids that show up in their classrooms each day. It is not easy, and more money thrown at this entrenched problem won’t do a thing to help.

        • When people talk about “bad teachers,” they don’t seem to realize that being unable to manage classroom behavior IS part of bad teaching. A more experienced teacher than your friend would have had that classroom under better control. I tried teaching once. Classroom management was my weak point. Everything fell apart from there. Meanwhile, I saw veteran teachers whose classroom worked with military precision.

          • No doubt, but I think you have to differentiate between bad teachers and teachers which are bad for the environment they are in. In many school districts, classroom management is much easier and a teacher is able to quickly move to content. I think this is what is taught in colleges.

            The problem is that in DC and similar districts this is not the case. Classroom management and working to raise expectations is a huge part of being a teacher, perhaps much more important than delivering content. It’s even harder to do that while not forgetting that delivering content is a principle goal (and ideally the primary goal).

            Being an effective urban teacher is really hard. You inherit so many challenges that just aren’t on the radar of teachers in other districts and the colleges which train them.

      • My SO is a teacher and seems to think that DC has invested a exorbitant amount into renovating schools rather than investing in training and resources for teachers, after-school activities that complement curricula, 21st century tech opportunities for students, etc. Not saying those are the only keys to improving our schools, but I don’t think remodeling them is necessarily the first priority (there are some exceptions I’m sure – I’ve heard that Dunbar’s former building didn’t even have real walls, thus teachers couldn’t turn off lights to use a projector / movie, unruly students had an adverse effect on more than just their own classroom and so on).

        • I think there is a break even point that we do go beyond, but capital investments such as renovations don’t happen very often. Whatever you do needs to last for decades.

          I think that the physical environment can have a big impact on learning. If a student doesn’t feel that the city respects them enough to have a good school in which to learn, why would they respect the learning process? If you live in a city and have to look the booming construction downtown, you’d feel like a second class citizen might fast in some of the terrible buildings that DCPS owns. Would you feel motivated to work in a building that has been crumbling for the last several decades?

          • in case you hadn’t noticed the city has been spending millions and millions of dollars renovating and rebuilding schools, like all of the high schools as the most obvious example.

      • One of the things that really inflates the per-student spend in DC is the fact that special needs kids are sent to Maryland and Virginia. It’s incredibly expensive to pay Maryland or Virginia to educate the special needs kids, and it’s incredibly expensive to transport them there and back every day. DC should re-examine creating a special ed program in the city; it may finally be at the point where it is cheaper than outsourcing them now.

  • I am actually very surprised, specifically the finding that says that this represents no change since the early 2000s. Am I just imagining that there are way more babies and toddlers in the city now than there were several years ago?
    On another note, it’s really cool that they did this kind of analysis. Is this typical? City governments have access to so much interesting data and I’ve always felt there was probably a ton they could learn about their residents that they weren’t doing. I’d love to see this kind of data matched across other records to identify what specific attributes lead to people deciding to stay or go. Like crime rates in their neighborhood, car ownership, public school enrollment, etc. Probably some really interesting insights there.

    • Yes, there’s lots of babies and toddlers. But you rarely see any kids who are 8 years old.
      And this would align with the findings of this study.

      • No, this study specifically focused on the first five years after having children, and said the rate of leaving or staying hasn’t changed. I felt like within the first five years, specifically, more people were staying.

        After that, I agree, there haven’t been any big changes. Maybe the difference here is that people used to leave in year one and now they leave in year five?

        • Maybe the raw number of people having babies is higher thus even if the percentages are the same the raw numbers might be higher?

          • Exactly. Both can be true. You’ve got more strollers because even though new parents are leaving at the same rate, there are more new parents overall because of the growing population.

    • I’m surprised too. I’m also surprised there isn’t a bump of people leaving at middle school time. The impression I’ve had is that more families are sticking around for elementary, and then leaving for middle school. I guess my impression was wrong.

    • I am also surprised by that the numbers haven’t changes much since the 2000s. I have lived in DC for 10 years (in the CH, CoHi, and Petworth neighborhoods) and definitely see many many more families – babies and young kids- in the city than I did 5 years ago or 10 years ago. We are about to enter the school lottery process and by the huge size of the attendance of prospective parents at all of the open houses it certainly seems like there is a large population of families that really want to stay in the city.

  • Obviously this is no surprise to anyone who knows parents trying to raise kids in the city. But it’s important to have as a means of pushing through policy changes.
    It will be interesting to see if the trends will change. DC has invested a lot in fixing the elementary schools, which seems to be somewhat successful. But it’s going to take another 10-20 years to fix the middle and high schools. My (utterly undocumented) guess is that parents start staying in DC longer (through elementary school), but bail once their first kid hits middle school age.
    That’s a bit of a modest victory for the DC government.

  • Hate to say it, but once my wife and I have our first kid we are gone too. Boils down to two issues: Schools & Crime/Safety.

  • Staying in DC while paying over $1,000 a month just for childcare while paying an insane mortgage is likely to force us to move. Sucks, but it’s reality.

  • We’re in Park View. We’re staying. I don’t want to hear about people leaving my local DCPS at 1st grade to move to the burbs or a charter school, hands-on-ears, I don’t want to hear it.

    Seriously, if a 4-bedroom renovated rowhouse goes for 800k 2 blocks from our local DCPS, and our local DCPS has eager dynamic experienced teachers and renovated facilities, and gets every teacher’s donation request fully funded, why in the friggin’ world couldn’t our kids be well-educated there? They will be.

    DC is dynamic enough and changing fast enough that I don’t think it’s fair to call 2012 “today”, and describe data from 2012 using the present tense.

    • You are totally right, and I really really hope the school situation improves. We want to stay desperately!

      • gotryit

        Don’t just hope – get involved!

        • I don’t mean to be snarky with this response. I am truly curious. What does “get involved” mean? I often see this advice lobbed at people and it comes across like empty words. I am not sure what a pre-parent could do to “get involved” to improve the schools.

          • gotryit

            -after school tutor
            -enrichment projects (think: do something cool with the kids)
            -help with fundraisers
            -help with other student related activities (field trips)
            -help lobby for funding from DCPS

    • We are in 16th Street Heights and have felt the same way until very recently. We have invested in our house and gotten involved in local school efforts, and were looking forward to working with the neighborhood to further improve our already decent elementary school and advocate for a good middle school option. But the crime over the past month has thrown off our equilibrium. With an 8 month old sleeping upstairs, it starts to feel like we’ve made an unconscionable parenting decision when we hear gunshots at night and read about murders within blocks of our house. I really hope we can start to feel safe again in our neighborhood and continue to think of it as our home for the long term.

      • I don’t have a child yet, but I go back and forth. I could deal with the schools, try for charter, or maybe go private if that’s what we have to do. However, I agree with Anon…it’s mostly about the crime. I know there will always be crime in a city, but I grew up in a small town where you could leave your keys in the car! I am not anywhere close to having a kid yet so hopefully things continue to improve.

      • Not that we should ever take crime lightly, and I understand why an uptick would make you anxious (it bothers me too), but… your child is probably more likely to be hit by lightning than a bullet through his/her window. And probably MUCH more likely to be killed in a car accident if you move someplace like Loudoun or Fairfax.

        • Give me a break Ep…. Previous poster (Anon) is spot on. We are out once pregnant

          • Have no idea about the lightning vs innocent bystander being shot likelihood (though both are very rare). But do know Eponymous is spot on regarding being more likely to be killed on a car crash. What we fear most is rarely tied to actual probability.

    • “Seriously, if a 4-bedroom renovated rowhouse goes for 800k 2 blocks from our local DCPS [. . .] why in the friggin’ world couldn’t our kids be well-educated there?”
      Keep in mind, though, that while you might see rowhouses selling for insane prices in your neighborhood and bringing high-income residents demanding high-quality education… there are also lots of unrenovated rowhouses with residents who don’t fit that demographic.

      • gotryit

        Also keep in mind that just because kids “don’t fit that demographic” doesn’t mean that they won’t be good classmates. Give them a chance.

        • Quite possibly, but higher socioeconomic status tends to mean more involved/demanding parents and better students.
          (I have no dog in this fight — no kids, and no plans to have any.)

    • You may not want to hear it, but it’s reality. Education doesn’t end at elementary school – what are your plans for middle school? Many parents (myself included) don’t relish the thought of any of the (realistic) middle school options in DC. My daughter is 2.5 years away, and I have zero confidence that DC will figure that out in that time. Hence, we’re leaving our highly regarded charter school after 2nd grade.
      Also, there’s a lot more to a quality education than renovated facilities, and funding requests. Like it or not, the pool of students has a lot to do with it, and there’s a snowball effect. A couple kids leave after PS, a few more after PK, and then there’s a mass exodus.
      Plus, as kids get older, your tolerance for the “charms” of the city evaporates. The random street crime and anti-social behavior that are tolerable when you’re a single or newly married 30 yo take on a whole new significance when you’re wandering around with a toddler, or considering whether to let your kid go outside by yourself.

    • oh2dc – High Schools need voulunteers to help student navigate college application process – proofread essays etc

  • yep schools are one dynamic… but DC also needs to do something about child care costs. very hard for a family to afford real estate/rent in DC without two incomes. With child care hovering around $1800+ per month… it’s just a difficult financial situation to have a kid and live in the city.

    • As someone who works with Child Care providers in MD, trust me it’s not much better and may be worse in the suburbs. Especially because MD doesn’t have Pre-K for all. In DC, once your kid hits preschool, you can move them into a free program/part of the school system. That doesn’t happen in MD. There are a lot of parents who move to Montgomery County from DC and are shocked that they just added an extra year of daycare costs, especially if they had kids in the free Pre-K programs in DC.

      But in general, the cost of child care across the US and the region is crazy and something needs to be done.

      • Many people posting about moving (myself included) realize that childcare isn’t any cheaper in the suburbs and may be open to moving out of the area completely.

      • The free Pre-K concept is not a guarantee. Yes, DC offers Pre-K through the public school system, but it’s a lottery – you are not at all guaranteed to get into a school that’s (a) anywhere near where you live, and (b) considered to be comparable in quality to what you’d pay for a private preschool in the burbs. The plan to stay in DC through Pre-K works out for some families, but spend 10 minutes on DCUM and you’ll see plenty of families who can’t get into a school that works for them. I know it’s a side point, but I wanted to dispel that myth.

  • I really like DC for the most part, but I cannot envision having children here. As in, I have a tough time picturing how my life would work out with kids here. Childcare is mind-bogglingly expensive, and the only places I could ever afford to buy property in are sketchy.

    I’ve been willing to deal with crime during my 20s, but I wouldn’t want to let my kids roam free around Brentwood or Trinidad or whatever “marginal” neighborhood I would have to move to if I had kids.

    But the DC suburbs? Never. To the Pacific Northwest!

    • Trinidad is filled with kids. And is getting better every day.

      But don’t take my word for it. Let somebody with more commitment to this city take advantage of the real estate equity they’d earn there. Ha!

      • Of course Trinidad is filled with kids, but kids roaming freely? No so many. And if they are, those are the precise kids parents move to avoid.

  • This is just not a surprise to me. When I look at my church on a Sunday morning, I see two groups of kids: (1) babies and toddlers and (2) a much smaller number of high school kids with Gonzaga jackets (yep, no one goes to a public school). DC is a (relatively) great town for couples and singles with money, but the case for living here gets harder to make when kids come along. If you’re filthy rich, I could see how staying here might be attractive, but most middle class- or even upper middle class- families can’t swing the steep private school tuition rates, along with the high housing costs.
    DC schools have a VERY long way to go. With a city that votes for Bowser, encourages entrenched public housing, and openly supports a dysfunctional school system/student body, progress is a long ways down the road. Unfortunately, you only get one chance with your child, so making him or her a frontiersman in a social experiment/political statement is really not an option for most of us.

  • This can’t be a surprise to anyone who pays attention. I know folks the past 5 years or so thought DC had reached a new paradigm, but it hasn’t. Young parents will always leave when they are confronted with the nations worst schools in DC, and some of the nations top public schools no more than 5 miles from the DC border.

  • This isn’t the slightest bit surprising. Some of the best public schools in the country are within a couple dozen miles of the District, whereas some of the worst in the country are in DC. Furthermore, parents no longer have time to take advantage of all the close-by urban amenities for which they originally moved to the city.

    • “Some of the best public schools in the country are within a couple dozen miles of the District,”
      This is a great point. When looking at potential Montgomery County schools, my wife and I started agonizing over which was “better” than the other, and quickly realized that they are leaps and bounds over our current options.

  • Schools are not the problem for our family; space is. I live in Hill East and have full confidence in our neighborhood school (Payne). But our condo is only 1100 sq ft, and it’s really a tight fit for two adults, a toddler, a cat and a dog. We would stay in DC for the long haul if we could afford a 1500 sq ft house in our neighborhood.

  • I have to say just reading the first page is driving me nuts. Why aren’t they specifying time frames alongside their data?

    Are the authors total amateurs?

  • I’m really surprised by this as well. And a bit dismayed. DC is one of the few jurisdictions in the country that offers pre k 3 and 4. I totally get the child care cost thing and couldn’t agree more, but if you end up paying childcare for 3 years instead of 5 as you will have to do in other jurisdictions, I’ve got to guess that that would bring it to even costs. Plus, if you’re moving to Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Arlington or Alexandria, your day care costs aren’t going to be any different.

    It’s an easy out to say the schools suck. All that shows is a lack of research and involvement. Yea, it takes a lot of time and I know, people in DC don’t have a lot of time, but take a cursory look and some asking around and people will find that there are a lot of really good schools in DC and some really great schools -both DCPS and charter.

    I wonder if the DC government paid parental leave will encourage more young, talented people to work for the District Government and if that coupled with pre k 3 and 4 would make a difference.

    • I think something that your post is missing is that, while there are good prek 3 and 4 programs, those are severely limited given the demand. We are starting the lottery process this year with my son and the numbers are overwhelming. The great schools that you are talking about are incredibly hard to get into and are spread all over the city, so only a handful work for any given neighborhood.

      • Limitations on good pre k 3 pre k 4 programs is a valid point. However, the vast majority of applicants (though not all) to the lottery system get into one of their choices. Believe me, I hear you on the overwhelmingness of it all. At the pre K 3,4 level it’s really not about curriculum but socialization – exactly what kids would be getting in a day care setting. But the bonus at a school is the existing education component. So if a school is considered not good academically at the elementary level, that doesn’t mean it’s bad on a pre k 3, 4 level. Test scores in elementary schools those that were achieved by 3rd graders and don’t reflect on the quality of the pre k experience.

        • Yes, but I’m not looking for a Janney type school. I’m looking for somewhere that I’d feel comfortable for my 3 year old spending 40 hours per week. I’m pretty sure that’s not my inbounds school. We will probably put it on our lottery list, but I’m not sure we will actually send my son there…

    • Plus, it’s not just schools. Many parents of babies/toddlers live in condos, grew up with yards, and want that for their kids. SFH in good school boundary areas are pretty pricey in DC.

  • We actually started talking to our realtor yesterday. We live in a condo downtown and it is nice for the 2 of us, but having both been raised in the south (Carolinas), we cant get past the detached house with a yard lifestyle that we both know well and are slowly being pulled that way. We have friends in the city that live in CH, Petworth, Cap Hill in many different styles of house, but none of them jive with what we want in our minds. With thoughts of a little one on the way, neither of us really feel like we would want to stay where we are and raise them in downtown (Mt. Vernon Sq.). I know people will scoff at this, but call us old fashioned and southern – we were raised in a suburban environment and that is where we feel most comfortable. Add to that the fact that neither of us went to private school and absolutely refuse to pay for it for our kids (40k a year, really? – that is what my 4 years of college cost) – with Virginia (and Maryland) having some of the top schools in the nation, it is sort of a no brainer. We love DC for us, now, but when you extrapolate out what it would cost to reach into a guaranteed good school district and satisfy the style of house/yard/etc that we want, the $$ just don’t add up for what we can get in VA.

    • My wife and I grew up in the Carolinas. We have a house with a yard and a garage now. In DC. Look at Brookland and Woodridge and Michigan Park and Takoma. Families are moving into our neighborhood all the time. We are two blocks from an elementary school that will no doubt improve (keep improving, rather) by leaps and bounds in the coming years as the babies at the playgrounds nearby stay in the community and go to the school. There’s a new middle school right next to Turkey Thicket. If it takes 10 years for middle schools and high schools to improve, that’s fine. Our one-year-old won’t be IN middle school for another 10 years.

      People are going to tell me I just dont understand, but look — if people stopped complaining about how no one sends their kids to DC schools and just started sending their kids to DC schools, then we would not be having this same circular debate. What these schools need is parent/community involvement, instead of families moving away or shipping the kids off to an out-of-community private school.

      • But the prices on those homes are quickly rising, and childcare costs are already high enough to deter most people making decent money.

      • “What these schools need is parent/community involvement, instead of families moving away or shipping the kids off to an out-of-community private school.”
        But maybe that’s the big difference between MD and DC schools. If you go to MCPS or private school, there’s not as much need for you to be completely involved in your child’s education. You can send him to school and know that’s he in a good environment and will be given the basic tool-set to succeed. Whereas DC public schools can be good, but it’s going to require a large sacrifice on all the parents in terms of time and money. And when you’re talking about upper-middle class parents – both of whom are working demanding jobs – they simply don’t have the time for that kind of involvement. They can’t burn the candle at both ends.

        • “If you go to MCPS or private school, there’s not as much need for you to be completely involved in your child’s education. You can send him to school and know that’s he in a good environment and will be given the basic tool-set to succeed.”

          Not true at all. At least for Northern VA public schools. I went to public school for K-12 in Northern Va and it was great, but my parents were very involved and I would say that was very important. Further, my boss has kids in FCPS and she is very involved, tells me stories of teachers not following up, etc. These schools are so great, in part BECAUSE parents are involved.

      • (a) prices are rising on all homes, including those in VA and MD districts with good schools. are you saying childcare is cheaper in VA and MD? And DC has preK3.

        (b) so what you’re looking for is a school where you don’t have to pay extra money for tuition or be involved as a parent?

      • +1. I think Burroughs is going to be fantastic in a few years (STEM school, new principal, great improvements over the past few years). And if you don’t mind a longer walk to the Metro, there are plenty of affordable houses IB for it.

      • “if people stopped complaining about how no one sends their kids to DC schools and just started sending their kids to DC schools, then we would not be having this same circular debate.”
        Yes, and if I were rich and thin, I’d be rich and thin. And if my aunt had a penis, she’d be my uncle.

  • We have a 7-month-old, and while we plan to make it work, our concern begins and ends with schools. We knew we needed more space, so we moved from Shaw/Logan renting to Shaw/Truxton owning and got what we needed. Also, we completely lucked out on daycare and are pleased with the parks that are nearby. Our concern is public education, but we would like to make it work by being closely involved in our child’s development and education to ensure he is not falling behind.

  • Has anyone heard anything from Mayor Bowser on this issue? The only issue I ever recall her talking about is affordable housing. I’d much rather her focus be on improving our schools, crime/safety and jobs. Don’t want to be political – just curious.

    • gotryit

      Yes – I’m hearing a lot of behind the scenes info on investing in schools. I will be interested to see if it pans out in the upcoming budget or if it’s just chatter. I’ll stick with ‘cautiously optimistic’.

  • One of the many reasons I love my Kingman Park neighbors: they stick around and are committed to improving the schools and neighborhood.

  • My husband and I left DC after 12 years this past summer because I’m pregnant. DC just wasn’t a viable, affordable choice for us anymore. We didn’t go far, we’re just in Takoma Park, but I feel like we live 100 miles away from our old condo on 14th St.

  • KSB

    I’m becoming increasingly convinced that as long as DC has a charter school system, the investment in neighborhood schools will wane and there will be no satisfactory improvement to the system as a whole. We’re in the midst of stay?/go?/stay? right now and our answer is always “let’s see what happens after THIS year’s school lottery.” It’s a super-crappy way to live, but we like our neighborhood (Brookland/Woodridge) and are leaning more towards renovating our house for more space than moving to the ‘burbs. But talk to me again in March/April after those lottery results have hit…

    • There is absolutely no evidence that the investment in neighborhood schools will wane. The investment in DCPS has been growing, in fact.

      • KSB

        I have no evidence to support my assertion – it’s merely an observation from the past five years of seeing people band together when their children are 2 or 3 to “work on” their neighborhood school, then getting into charters and scattering. Lather, rinse, repeat.
        Like I said, this is strictly anecdotal, but I see no measurable momentum in the neighborhood schools because they’re still second fiddle.

    • As a relatively new parent, I tend to agree. Every single child at our neighborhood playground goes to a different school in a different part of the city. I feel like if we knew other people who were planning to attend the same school we would be in a much better place than we are now.

    • Eh. I think you’re right and wrong. I think it will slow down progress in neighborhood schools, especially ones that don’t have as many positives to work with from the get-go. I think Noyes and Burroughs are good comparisons. Lots of charter kids in Brookland, but I think parents are reluctant to invest in Noyes because it pulls from some bad areas and has a much more challenging population. Burroughs pulls from an area that, while diverse in every sense, is more heavily middle or upper middle class (and trending more towards the latter all the time). Neighborhood schools will improve when a critical mass of parents see realistic potential for improvement and band together to make it work. See Capitol Hill.

      • KSB

        Agreed. We’re in bounds for Burroughs, have met the principal, like the STEM program, like that the middle schoolers are heading to the new middle school and that Burroughs will be a true elementary school. It checks all the boxes, and we’ll likely be there next year (we will, like everyone else, apply for the couple of “decent” charters in and around Brookland, but I’m not holding my breath after three years of nothing.) But I can’t name one other neighbor who will likely also be at Burroughs. They’re all in charters, where they’re staying, or are homeschooling.

  • I have a 10 year old and a 7 year old, and I’m staying, but that’s because I’ve figured out the school system, and got relatively lucky in the lottery. I also live in a rowhouse vs a condo, so we have enough space for each kid to have their own room.

    Key for us
    1. walkability. When the metro was not operating on Monday, it didn’t matter to us – we could take the bus, or even walk. I walk to work. Walk to pick the kids up from school. Walk to the grocery store.
    2. amenities –playgrounds, free pools, free prek3 and 4 (although we are past that now), easy access to museums, festivals, etc. that are happening downtown.

    I live in a neighborhood where people leave when their kids hit school age. I see the babies come and go. Parents talk about how they are going to invest in the schools (unlike us old-timers) and how they are going to turn our neighborhood school into the next Ross, and then, poof, they’re gone.

    It’s not just the schools, it’s the lifestyle. People leave because their condos are too small. They leave because they want their kids to have a backyard. They want their kids to have neighbor kids who are the same age as they are, who go to the same school, who drift in and out of each other’s houses without parents needing to schlep kids from one end of town to the other for play dates.

  • A few thoughts
    – I assume this discussion in not about families in Ward 3
    – My neighbor moved from NoVA to Brookland with a 4 year old I was pretty shocked.
    – Whenever I see a 2br condo for sale and scroll through virtual tour I see he 2nd BR is a nursery, I wonder if the family is leaving DC.
    – I think most families take an IF – THEN approach IF I get into this elementary school or this charter (for my area it is Bethune, Yu Ying, Latin, Two Rivers, some may branch out depending on where they work ) THEN we stay until we get to the next transition point, junior high, and then they do the analysis again. We did not leave because I did not want to put my kid on the bus in the morning and be downtown not close to them. Our decision was probably influenced by being here during 9/11 and the sniper. Leaving the city is a very personal decision for a family but you also have to be practical if you don’t feel you have a viable public, private or charter school option .
    -I disagree that we don’t get to take advantage of the amenities because we have kids. In the evening I run out with friends for beers or a game or my wife can go out to brunch with her friends and we also take the kids out and enjoy the city. I feel that if we left, and we thought about leaving, we would never come into the city. Some of the amenities actually came to us with the development Brookland. We were definitely lucky that certain things fell into place for us. I think other people are planning to stay. I think that is why the demand for single family homes in Brookland is high pushing up prices.

  • I have two kids and I’m staying. I love this town. See ya later.

    • +1
      Same here. Love this town 🙂

    • gotryit

      Same here. Although more concerned about high school (middle school to a lesser extent).

      • so many people talk about staying, or some schools being good. But no one wants their kid to be in the school as it transitions for improvement because that could really harm your child’s potential. Gentrification of housing is one thing – people seem fine living near crime and all that. But most don’t want to risk crappy public education (NOT charters) in oder to be a trailblazer. Just what I’m noticing.

        • gotryit

          If you look at test scores, then you might think the school is a risk. I look at the education *my* child will get, and I don’t see a risk.

        • I cringe when I hear people talk about their child’s potential, because it’s such a vague term and worried about so indiscriminately. I suspect you mean their potential for educational intelligence, like adding, reading, etc. When your child is young, like below the age of six, that bucket is pretty small, and you as the parent are almost entirely responsible for filling it, and it takes very little effort to do it (i.e., read to them every night). At that age, school is more for social and emotional intelligence: can I use words to communicate with this new person who doesn’t have all my likes and dislikes memorized, can I sit in a circle with other kids while this big person reads us a story, do I freak out every time my friend talks to someone other than me, etc. The DC public elementary schools are exceedingly good at meeting the social and emotional educational needs of little kids. So I don’t understand why so many parents with young kids think DCPS schools are such a bad option. They are a great option, and your participation makes them better.

    • Word. DCPS4Life

  • jim_ed

    We have a one year old and a rowhouse, and we’re not planning on going anywhere. Certainly this is subject to change, and hearing gunshots late at night is a lot more worrisome then it used to be. That said, I think the quality of schools issue is dramatically overblown, at least at the elementary level. We’re zoned for Truesdell, which has plenty of availabilty in its pre-K, and it scores similarly to the highly lauded Powell. At this point in time, I fully plan on sending my kid there, and will take it year by year from there.

    • Truesdell where 57 percent are BELOW “proficient” in reading, etc. This is where the divide forms- some are ok with their kids going to a school like that, while others would be horrified at doing that if they could avoid it. Everyone has a different threshold, but I’d say most educated, middle or higher SES parents aren’t sending their kids to Truesdell, and I suspect you’ll change your mind when your 1 year-old is ready to go.

      • jim_ed

        Sure, and considering all the openings in the pre-k, it’s clear that they’re not sending their kids there. That said, 52% are below proficient at the darling Powell, which I believe has a full waiting list for pre-K. Also, both schools have close to 50% English learners as students, so I think that plays a lot into the proficiency rate.

        To your second point, I don’t think I’ll reconsider sending my daughter there, at least initially. I’m the product of a lousy school system, so I know first hand that student success has way more to do with parental involvement/expectations than the school itself. Contrarily, my wife is a product of those vaunted Fairfax County schools, and its far from the academic utopia many make it out to be. But yeah, as you mentioned it just comes down to personal threshold and expectations.

        • I wish more people recognized this. And I wonder how well some posters’ children will really do academically (not to mention socially), if they think that sending their kids to a homogeneous school with high test scores means that they will be on parental autopilot for 14-15 years.

          • We moved to DC when my son was in 2nd grade. Before that, we lived in a Maryland suburb. He was below grade level and hated to read when he started in DCPS, and now, two years later, he is above grade level and actually enjoys reading. His problem was that he was below average in Maryland, but not far enough below average to get extra assistance. Thanks to a low student/teacher ratio and excellent programs in his DCPS school, he is thriving. This would have never happened in the ‘burbs.
            FWIW, I am the product of PG/Fairfax/Charles County Schools. None of those systems every invested in me what DCPS has invested in my children.

        • Oh, just to add, my kids go to darling Powell. The reputation is well deserved, trust me. Proficiency levels are raising in the school. Schools do not transform over night, that’s just the way it is. But I will agree that the only reason our waiting list is high now is because of the press we have gotten. Before that we were just another LSE school in a sea of LSE schools. Powell is where it is at today because of the excellent leadership, amazing teachers, and families who work hard to ensure success. This exact formula is repeatable in other schools across the city. The real problem is how people cling to the handful of schools that get good press and then get pissy when they don’t “win” the lotteries.

        • I’m also zoned for Truesdell and took a tour last year. I came from a very average school system and definitely don’t feel the need to get into the best schools, etc. My kid will do fine. The two things that bugged me about Truesdell were 1)the concentration to increase test scores led to a lot of focus on testing type things and academics. My kid will be 3. I want him outside and running, not doing very directed play that will turn to test prep in a couple years. I think they only have about 20 minutes of recess for 3 year olds. 2)The high number of ELL kids there. I think it’s a little different from Powell b/c Powell is dual language. Truesdell isn’t and I feel like my kid will potentially stall in his language development. I’m hoping my impressions are off and I’m hoping to take another tour this year to see if it’s better.

  • The issues for us dictating why we want to leave DC, and ideally the area not just fleeing to the burbs (which aren’t much better, or even worse as some have said) is the insane price of housing and the insane cost of childcare. The two combined make it very difficult to have any real savings rate – and we make a very good living. I’m not OK with that. I never actually did get in to any day care programs that were reduced for federal employees (we got in to CCLC but by then had a nanny we love). If I ever have another child, the stress of finding childcare and the stress of paying for it? Nope.

    • Cost is relative. What to you is “insane”, isn’t to someone else, and compared to the inner burbs, DC is actually cheaper on both accounts

  • How many people here talking actually have a child enrolled in DCPS? My guess is very few.

    My daughter is in 4th grade and has been going to DCPS since Pre-K and in addition to reading & doing math way above grade level, she speaks fluent Spanish and can read/write Spanish as well. She’s gotten a damn fine education via DCPS and they have provided her with many things her mother (a college professor) and I can not.

    Are things perfect? No. Recently I had to have a brief conversation with the principal about one teacher’s choice to use, “Are you down with OPP?” as part of their call & response. There are definitely some kids in my daughter’s class who don’t get the same level of love & support at home that she does, but I consider that a part of her education: that not everyone is like you, not every family is like yours. Yeah it can lead to some difficult conversations, but I prefer that to my own bizarro suburban experience where differences and problems are papered over by the relative affluence of the area.

    Maybe when she gets to middle or high school I’ll feel differently, but for now I will defend DCPS at every opportunity.

    • ^100. Love your comment.

    • This is very interesting and encouraging. Thanks for the comment.

    • Middle school is 18 months away for her. What’s the plan?

    • On the other hand, for kids just entering the system, the supply-and-demand imbalance makes it hard to accept that all the DCPS success stories are accessible. It’s fortunate that so many parents *are* interested in public or charter schools now, but that same demand makes some of the goodwill experienced by parents just a couple years ahead of us feel further out of reach. Really hoping there are ways to expand the supply — otherwise, it’s not much comfort to hear how much better the schools are, when you can’t get into them.

  • From somebody living in DC with 3 kids and not anywhere close to being among the 1%: it takes sacrifices. We lucked out several years ago on a house in a (then) sketchy neighborhood when we had no kids. It has enough space that we weren’t concerned about raising a family and getting too cramped. Even with 100%+ growth in home equity in the intervening years we still could never in a million years find a house as big in a good school district, in DC or in a close in suburb. So we applied for financial aid at several of the big name privates for elementary in addition to rolling the DCPS lottery dice. And one of them came through with an FA amount that works for us. It’s not free, but it’s also nowhere $40K/year per kid. We sacrifice in other ways to make that work, but on the flip side we aren’t in the car for hours a week and can walk many places to take advantage of the awesome things this city has to offer.

    Believe it or not most of these schools WANT a diverse student population: racially, culturally and socioeconomically. I think people would be shocked at the amount of money that some of these private endowments have for FA each year. Most people assume they could in no way afford it and never even look at going private, but it’s an option. The privileged adults that come along with the territory can be a drain some times, but we’ve found our group or like-minded school friends and .the kids couldn’t be happier.

    • Wow. I NEVER would have thought about applying for FA at a private school. Thanks for the information.

    • Yes, and it helps greatly to be in a minority group. If not, or if earning just a tad too much, then FA is a dream as much as Sidwell

  • My wife and I live in the B-Dale/LDP neighborhood of NW with our two young children (younger than 4). The older one is in a public school near our house, which we love, and we’ll send the younger one there too. Many of our neighbors with similarly aged children have fled to the suburbs. The reasons they give vary from schools, to cost, to wanting to have more living space (both indoors and out). I’m surprised by how our calculus on these issues is so much different than theirs when we are pretty much working with the same economic constraints. The public and charter school options available for kids under the age of 10 seem perfectly fine to us. I am the product of the NYC (Brooklyn) public elementary school system, which was fantastic, and the school my older child is in now is at least that good. It also gets better every year more students whose parents support the school are enrolled in it, so we like to think we’re paying it forward. I admit to having no preconceived ideas about what happens when the kids turn 10 (or thereabout). The middle and high schools that exist today have a long way to go before they reach acceptable levels, in our opinion, and I hope our elected officials make good on at least some of their plans for putting more resources to improving schools for older kids…. I don’t understand the cost thing at all, particularly when people move to Silver Spring or Bethesda and still work in the City. The suburbs of DC are some of the most expensive in the country, and living there with kids means owning a car (probably two), commuting to work and probably paying for before-care and/or after-care for school. I understand the more indoor space thing (I guess), but not the more outdoor space thing. Between Rock Creek Park, the National Arboretum and the various neighborhood parks throughout the City, there are plenty of places to let the kids run around and explore. And all the really remote hiking spots are a car ride away from the suburbs the same as from the City. Anyway, I’m rambling. I just wish more families with young kids would make a real go of it here before bagging out. Staying is a self fulfilling prophecy the same as leaving.

    • I think a distinction has to be made between people who years ago bought into some of the DC neighborhoods where the schools are not great but improving (e.g., Bloomingdale, Brookland, Petworth etc.) and those with kids who are looking to buy now. If you bought years ago in one of those neighborhoods, then your mortgage is probably far less than what it would be if you today bought a house in a relatively close-in DC suburb with good schools. So, assuming you like living in the city, it makes sense to stick it out and see if the school situation improves. Worse case scenario you sell at a profit and move out to the suburbs.

      But if you are looking to buy today, a rowhouse in Bloomingdale or Hill East or Petworth costs almost as much (if not more, in some cases) than a house in some of the NW DC areas with good schools, some parts of Bethesda, Silver Spring, and parts of Arlington. Sure, there are some areas of DC that haven’t yet exploded where the housing stock is cheaper than the suburbs, but those few remaining areas don’t in my view offer the benefits of city living that some of the more centrally located areas do (Woodbridge comes to mind). So faced with the choice of buying an OK rowhouse in Bloomingdale for $750K (if you’re lucky) and the marginal schools that come with it — and potentially being stuck in a really bad situation if you don’t “luck out” in the lottery or if you’re local school doesn’t in fact improve — or spending the same (or less) on a house in a suburb where you don’t have to worry about the schools, I think a lot of parents with kids very understandably opt for the latter.

      • As a fellow Bloomingdale resident considering kids in the near future I’m happy to hear this. I hope there are a lot more of my neighbors taking this approach too!

      • Please show me a nice $700k house of comparable size to Petworth in an equitable close-in suburb. I’ll buy 2! While we bought a while ago, if we sold and moved, we’d be starting over or worse in mortgage size.

    • Hi neighbor! I don’t want to put you on the spot but would you mind sharing which elementary? This is so nice to hear as a B’dale resident considering kids soon. We were recently rezoned for Langley though which makes me a little nervous.

      And to your other points, I completely agree. Also, I grew up in a “perfect” suburb with great schools and it was miserable, and I was surrounded by boring racists. And even though we weren’t getting caught or in trouble, there were huge drug problems at my school – most people I knew did cocaine regularly. I guess I just feel like the suburbs may solve some of the challenges of city living but they bring up a whole different set of problems that people don’t talk about as much when they talk about leaving the city.

      • Langley is a work in progress. I think the improvements will come faster now that almost all of Bloomingdale is zoned for it, but you’ll probably be on the leading edge. All of that said, it’s still perfectly suitable for the pre-school-aged and probably even kindergarten-aged kids.

  • I’d be curious to see homeownership data along with this, which shouldn’t be hard to compile since they seem to have access to those tax records anyway. I think some of the points mentioned here about housing affordability ring true to a lot of people, including myself. I’d love to stay in DC and invest in my neighborhood, but I can’t afford to rent a much bigger place to raise a family, let alone buy a house. I work at a nonprofit and my husband is a government employee. How the hell can a middle class family survive in this city if they didn’t “get in” a few years ago? I feel leagues behind current DC homeowners.

    • jim_ed

      I totally get how impossible finding an affordable home in a decent neighborhood in DC can seem, but it is doable, it just takes a lot of work and patience. I don’t want to lecture you if you’ve already gone through looking for housing, but my wife and I did this two years ago, so I’m more than happy to share some tips if you’d like.

      • That would be great and I’d very much appreciate that! You can email me at

        We started to look several years ago and got pretty frustrated/demoralized. Now, we’ve put our search on the back burner, and only passively monitor trends and whatever’s hitting the market. My husband is from outside of Houston, so he has a lower threshold for what an acceptable mortgage is. I grew up in Brooklyn in the 80’s, so I totally watched my parents rise from being straight-up poor to middle-class (by NYC standards…) just by sticking it out and making a few wise real estate choices. So, I’m definitely not above making the same kind of sacrifices that my parents made with me, because I turned out fine. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “work” part of this process, because right now we’re just sorta eating time and squirreling away money as best we can. THANKS!

      • HaileUnlikely

        I was able to score something that was affordable to me two years ago as well. My perception, which might be wrong, is that it is much harder to do so now than it was two years ago.

    • We felt the same way 8 years ago. Our friends who had bought homes 3-4 years prior lived in Hill East or the outskirts of U Street. We were priced out of those places by a mile. So, we bought a house in Trinidad. We certainly couldn’t afford to buy our home at today’s prices, and our friends who are in the market now are looking at at Carver-Langston. I wish I had better advice, but I think you have to be willing to find today’s Trinidad, buy there, and wait it out.

  • I have three children enrolled in DCPS and live in the 20011. I am really not surprised that most middle-income folks leave the city. Here’s my theory: the city is actually a good place for lower-income folks. I fall into this category, and thanks to Universal Early Childhood Education, I no longer pay for daycare. I also don’t pay for after-care or school lunch because of the high-proportion of low-income kids in the school. Sure, I would probably qualify for this elsewhere too, but at least in DC my kids aren’t facing social stigma for being poor. Also, my kids now take the bus to school for free thanks to the DC One program. Sure, it would be cheaper to live elsewhere, but then I would have a huge commute, have to pay for daycare and before/after care, never see my kids because of my monster commute, etc. So as a low-income person, these are many of the reason I stay.
    For high income folks, they can afford the private schools and largely live WOP. They don’t leave because they like living in the city and don’t want to move to Potomac or wherever because they prefer the city. They also tend to be older families. They’ve weathered the Elementary and Middle School years, and have Wilson to send their kids to, or just send them to private or charter school. The money they have allows them to fix the problems they have – kid falling behind and needs a tutor? No problem. Kid wants extra-curriculars? No problem. Hate DCPS? No Problem.
    As far as the middle income folks go (which, I have to say, is going to include a lot of the newer parents at my children’s school), they come into it with getting the experience of the high income folks and are shocked when they don’t get that. You see it ALL THE TIME on in the comments here – how dare we have violence in this neighborhood, that house just sold for $900K! The education is so bad (based on what exactly?)! Having seen them in action at my kids’ school, they are also the least likely to get involved (with a few exceptions) but the first to bitch when something doesn’t go their way. So am I surprised these people turn tail and run? Nope. It’s also the reason why the first three levels of the school are a good mix socio-economically and demographically and after 2nd grade the school is pretty much homogeneous. They come for the Early Childhood Education and trickle out in kindergarten and 1st grade.

  • Schools. Our future in DC largely hinges on the results of this year’s lottery. My in-boundary school is awful and I don’t have the stomach or time to be a trailblazer.

  • My comments mirror a lot of what has been said here. We live in Mt Pleasant & are optimistic about Bancroft, from what we’ve seen. We do not intend to leave in the next few years; my daughter is 19mo now. There are so many benefits to being where we are:
    we can walk to nearly half a dozen parks within 15-20 minutes
    public transit instead of driving–I can pay more attention to my kid while we’re commuting & when she goes to school, we’ll likely walk
    so many educational opportunities nearby (museums, zoo, botanical gardens, etc)
    less homogenous makeup of classmates & experiences compared to where I grew up
    we will be involved in our daughter’s school regardless of where she goes–that’s an important part of being a parent and I’m way too Type A not to do so. I honestly can’t imagine leaving the city unless we have to leave the area for some reason. Granted, we’re not in DCPS yet, but that’s where we are for now.

  • Although it’s always interesting to read a report like this with detailed data, I can’t imagine that anyone is surprised by the overall concept that people move out of cities to raise children. It’s typically due to the combination of factors that have been repeated through the comments: space, safety, cost and schools. For some reason it often seems like living in DC is the one and only city-dwelling experience for many and so they don’t realize that issues they have with DC are just urban issues versus an otherwise rural or suburban experience, but I assure you that people leave NYC, Boston, etc. as well to raise children.

    Is that to say that there shouldn’t be continued improvements in school districts or that parents shouldn’t be encouraged to stay? Not at all, having families in the city is just one aspect of urban diversity and those families without any options or desire to relocate deserve a good education from the District. But cities are generally accepted to be expensive, even if DC has just been catching up to that general trend in recent years, and overall there are different priorities for many in their manner of living once children are involved.

    Essentially, I’m just saying that there is never going to be an overhaul to make DC the ideal place for many to raise a family, and while improvements in schooling, playgrounds and other issues important for children should continue, there will always be an exodus to the ‘burbs for most at some point after the kids arrive.

    What is changing is that now once the kids are raised and on their own, more empty nesters are moving back into urban areas. That has been a different pattern of relocation over the past decade or so.

  • I can’t imagine leaving DC for the burbs. We’ve managed to make it to ages 6 and 4 without a car because of the great public transportation here. As for schools, we’re in neighborhood DCPS that is just fine. Sure, test scores are lower, largely attributable to the majority ESL and low income population. But our kids are learning and happy, and the commute to school is about 1 minute. We can hit libraries, museums, the zoo, and cultural events every weekend, as well as hitting re centers, parks, and walks through neighborhoods. An awesome town.

  • 1. Parents are a far more indicative of the success and failure of a child in terms of education rather than the school itself. A big reason why some big city schools do poorly is to high a concentration of functionally illiterate parents. Over time many of these poorer parents are going to be priced out of DC. I really do think this is a good thing. Warehousing inter-generational poor people in cities remains one of the worst public policies that we have arrived at. If cities wanted more middle class families with high achieving kids, instead of fighting the disbursement and displacement of poor families, it should be trying to figure out how to accelerate the process. With DC this would mean reducing the amount of “affordable (ie low income)” housing and public housing projects. Never mind the fact the city remains having an oversupply of low skilled labor compared to local demand. The only way to improve the schools in this city are breaking up high concentrations of poverty in neighborhoods. Make a strict 15% rule regarding neighborhood poverty. And year this means losing a 1/4 of low income residents and children in this region. Almost all data suggests neighborhoods over 20% poverty have the worst issues. Instead of policies to preserve the worst neighborhoods and increase urban poverty, we need to realize that anti-clustering of poverty should be the prime policy if we want good schools. Yes, this means displacing people, but these neighborhoods have major issues.
    2. The fact 1/3 is staying is encouraging. Once the neighborhood changes over time eventually this will sort itself out. Gentrification over time will basically wipe out much of the poverty.
    3. The cost of living is going to basically discourage the people who are lower middle class (those closer to $35,000) from living in the city. This is a good thing. They are far higher risk for poverty.

    Let the gentrification continue, in fact pour fuel on the fire, and the schools will improve as the better educated parents come in who are more capable of educating their kids at home.

    • ^So ‘The Plan’ is real…lol
      I am kidding of course. With that said I know there are many people who feel this way. ‘Let’s move the poor and let it be someone else problem.’ People know and feel when they are looked upon with disdain and people wonder why there is such an air of tension in certain parts of DC? I honestly believe most people value diversity but there are other who are like ‘displace them all and let Rushern Baker sort them out.’

      “Parents are a far more indicative of the success and failure of a child in terms of education rather than the school itself. ”

      I also believe this but I offer an alternate plan – stay in DC, invest in the schools, be kind to your neighbors, share what you know with a younger generation who may not look like you., You will see change.

      • Actually, plenty of studies show that economic diversity is best. Not 100% rich or poor, but a spectrum. So I agree that we need less pockets of poverty, but that’s different that no poverty. We can push for gentrification as long as it’s not absolute. Absolute poverty is the worst curse of all.

    • Blithe

      Manifest Destiny Redux?

  • A thought experiment: Picture a world where DC’s schools actually do improve. They actually are the kind of place you’d like to send your children. So you don’t move to the suburbs.

    House prices will E X P L O D E.

  • My husband and I are expecting our first child and recently moved out of the city to Alexandria after living in DC for 10 years. It wasn’t schools that influenced our decision — it was housing. After living in one bedroom apartments for the past decade, we wanted to find a place to buy that we would grow into a bit. We weren’t looking for a mansion, mind you… just a house with two or three bedrooms and a little more storage for when we had kids. But after months of searching, we found it so difficult to buy an affordable home in DC that we began looking in NoVa and eventually landed in Alexandria. It was worth the sacrifice of extending our commute a bit (although we’re still near public transit) for the extra space at an affordable price.

    And FWIW, my husband and I both have good paying, stable jobs.. I don’t know how low-income families could possibly expect to do it.

    • Alexandria is no cheaper than Petworth, more so by my searches. So not sure what your “affordable” price is.

      • The prices in Old Town rival the city, but if you get out of Old Town, there’s actually a lot of seciton. We aren’t in Old Town, a little bit further out. Once you get out of Old Town the prices drop pretty dramatically, actually. Alexandria is actually a pretty big city. There’s lots of different types of houses, including townhouses like ours.

        Arlington/Fairfax/etc., is pretty similar. Prices in the immediate blocks of a metro stop rival the city, but if you are willing to get away from the immediate blocks, the home prices drop.

  • Here’s a great idea! Let’s cut all the three- and four-bedroom row houses up into 4 one- or two-bedroom condos each! Then we’ll have loads of properties for singles, few options for families, and an over-inflated housing market run up by the developers who build the actual condos! And then when your population is not broadly invested in children, no one will make public schools a priority, and then everyone will wonder why families move out to suburbs where the schools are supposed to be better!

  • This is somthing we just went through.

    1st kid is due in April.

    We really wanted to stay in the city, looked at million options and none made sense.

    Just closed on a 3 bedroom house in Vienna.

    DC, I will miss you dearly.

  • We tried to talk ourselves into staying, but those schools we said aren’t that bad, they are getting better were in comparing to other schools in DC. Step back and compare those schools with schools outside DC and you really see how bad even the “good” ones are. We miss the heck out of the city, but education out ranked the amenities for us.

  • We are playing the lottery this year for PreK3, and regardless of the results we are staying, We were fortunate to buy a house during the free fall of the housing market so home affordability is not an issue as i hear it to be for many families. I love the convenience of all, i have 2 supermarkets and a farmers market 3 blocks from my house, the metro is 3 blocks away, plus 4-5 bus lines, within 4 block or so in several directions we have choices of 3 different and nice (newly renovated) playgrounds, 20 mins metro ride from downtown/mall, we love to bike around the city with our 2 1/2 year old, we love the free pools, etc. Sure the in boundary school for my daughter is not great but we are determined (along with many other neighbors) to make it work.

    The analysis presented does need to make a point that in absolute numbers, the number of families with small children is growing, there are so many DCP schools that over-subscribed (more students than capacity) at least near my home whether that is Bancroft, or Barnard, or Bruce Monroe, or Powell, all DCPS all with more children than capacity.

Comments are closed.