Wednesday, February 4, 2009

is this whole "consortium" thing getting through to people?

Montgomery Blair High School: a top school, but a disappointing vending machine selection.

The online magazine Slate has a new blog, "Newmans Own," about Nora and Michael, a young couple trading an apartment in North [or "Poseur"] Cleveland Park for their first home somewhere in East County. I'm totally happy that their depiction of Silver Spring and Takoma Park as idyllic suburbs will help bury a previous casting of East County as a veritable war zone, but kind of bummed about their jumping to conclusions on other things.

House #1 is a storybook cottage so cute your teeth will rot located in the North Hills above Sligo Creek Park. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Not right. Apparently, they hear that the "neighborhood high school isn't one of the county's better schools."

That school would be Northwood High, which just re-opened four years ago. The school's demographics don't look encouraging - just a quarter white, half the student body on free and reduced lunch. But they fail to realize that (or the Realtor doesn't tell them, because as my Realtor mother explains, incorrect information will get you sued) Northwood is one of the five Downcounty Consortium high schools, meaning their seventeen-month-old son could instead choose to attend Montgomery Blair, a top performer both in the region and nationally, or one of the other three in the district.

It's only funny because the couple gushes over a far more expensive (and, IMO, less cute) house in Takoma Park that is also in the Consortium, meaning that all the whining and moaning they do about their toddler's education is really for nothing. I mean, these are real educated people, magazine editors and Washington Post columnists and the like, the type you'd expect to be drooling over Bethesda and its vaunted List of 67 Things, but are moving out of D.C. because their poor kid's not going to get a decent education in the city's public schools. But what it sounds like is that they're going for the house in Takoma Park because the neighborhood looks like it should have good schools, even though it doesn't really matter.

But at the end of the day, that's what the Consortia are about: placating affluent white families while secretly using them as pawns for a giant mandatory-busing scheme. Hooray! I can't wait to find out where Nora and Michael look next.


Sligo said...

That first house is only a couple blocks away from mine. Oh, how home prices have fallen... :'-(

Their problem is that they don't know the proper way to walk to the Metro from there. No way in hell would I go up Colesville.

Kim said...

I'm sad the post prior to this was removed, re: Hyattsville. Maybe it was meant to be posted elsewhere but it was a great post and I wanted to comment!

Seth Grimes said...

I live a couple of blocks from that Takoma Park house and my son goes to Northwood High School, which he chose over Blair and the other Downcounty Consortium Schools, in part because has 40% the student population of Blair. There's no shortage of challenge classes for students who are up for them.

Dan Reed said...

The Hyattsville post is coming back. I put it up by accident; it'll come back soon.

Beth said...

That first house is right next door to mine, so I'm admittedly biased. It's a gem, as is the family who owns it. My husband and I consider ourselves very fortunate indeed to live in this lovely neighborhood with our two young daughters who learn more important lessons from living in a wonderfully diverse community among caring neighbors than they'll ever learn in ANY MoCo school.

After reading his Slate post I can't say I'm unhappy that Michael and Nora didn't move in-- we hope to welcome new friends and neighbors in that home who can more finely appreciate the lovely home, neighborhood,close-knit neighbors and fabulous location.

Gabe and Margy said...

It seems that the writers don't really want to find the right house too soon, or their new column will be short-lived. So, I'm taking their dislike of anything with a grain of salt. It's all just faux journalism, not to mention more of the "journalists lives are so interesting, so obviously everyone wants to read about them" stuff that is such a turn off. Takoma Park can have them, as far as I am concerned.

Thomas Hardman said...

Beth: Maybe those folks decided to look elsewhere for a home because they didn't want to live next door to a Kool-Aid swilling propagandist, or possibly Realtor.

Dan, there is a definite need to bus white kids out of their little enclaves. I insist that white kids from Olney be bussed into Aspen Hill, Wheaton, and Colesville.

Beth said...

Yes indeed Tom, the background check on me would be REALLY scary. You're right, I don't think anyone will want to live next to me...shucks, I'll pick up my toys and go home now.

WashingtonGardener said...

Off topic - but how come MOST of the 67 things "great about living in Bethesda" are NOT in Bethesda?