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City of Olds: Even as Boston's population increases, number of kids shrinks

Map showing neighborhoods with dramatic drops in kids: From Allston to Dorchester

From the Boston Foundation report.

The Boston Foundation reports a Manhattanizing Boston increasingly split between the well off and the very poor is rapidly losing its under-18 population:

Even though our city’s total population has increased from a low point in 1980, we’ve actually lost school-aged population at the same time. And, if it weren’t for immigration, Boston’s school-aged population would have decreased even further. ...

Boston’s got a lot going for it, but we’re gradually becoming a city of high-income, childless professionals. We’ve also seen growth in the number of lower-income families, in part driven by those who are fortunate enough to get off of waitlists and secure subsidized housing. But we’re losing other families who can’t afford the city’s rising housing costs, and our middle class is hollowing out.

The report's main focus is what this means for a BPS system in which students are, save for the exam school, increasingly poor, black and Latino:

Boston is a far more diverse city these days than it was even a few decades ago. But this diversity masks a growing mismatch, as Boston’s children are significantly more likely to be children of color and to come from low-income families than city residents overall. Boston children are also more likely to attend schools that have become far less integrated in recent decades, both racially and socioeconomically. This is troubling in light of the wide range of important benefits associated with educating children in integrated schools. A large and growing body of evidence consistently finds that students who attend diverse schools have better academic,social, behavioral and economic outcomes - all advantages that collectively position them to succeed in an increasingly diverse workplace and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty

The report adds:

Suburbs to the west of Boston, many of which are higher income, have seen some of the region’s largest gains. Towns like Winchester, Belmont and Sudbury each saw school-aged population increases of more than 30 percent. Some of these families come from Boston itself, moving out to the suburbs once their kids become school-aged, while many others move to Boston’s suburbs from elsewhere in the U.S. Still others come from abroad, and instead of settling in Boston, move to other places in the region seeking things like lower housing costs and local community ties to their countries of origin. Whether or not such assessments are fair, the perception that K–12 schools are “better” in the region’s higher-income suburbs is probably another driving factor behind some of these geographic moves.

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Comments

crime has been dropping too. Damn kids GET OFF MY LAWN!!

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Can live out their dreams of having a family. It's sad. With so few kids the BPS still sucks though.

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You can send the thank you cards to Judge Garrity, buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Wellesley.

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The lovely residents of the city of Boston had more than ten years after the first desegregation orders hit US cities to get over their racism and play fair.

They didn't.

That left the judge with very few options.

So write those thank you cards by the thousands - I'm sure there are still some of the responsible bigots around to thank for a mess that could have been concluded in a civilized manner a decade before a judge had to step in had they not let their racism rule their ignorant lead-saturated heads.

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Voting closed 8

Murkin, you're (still) blaming Garrity? Seriously?
He took action to try to solve the problems of the time. Necessary, as Swirly said, because of inaction by others.
Unfortunately, a lot of the remedy was put on the backs of children and families. After all, children don't have the as much legal/political muscle to resist.

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Lots of people live in the city that have CHOSEN not to have children.

We are not childless, we are child-free.

Big difference.

Plus I know LOTS of families that could afford to raise their kids in the city - but for lots of reasons choose not to (but they'll move back almost as soon as the kids are out of school).

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so few wealthier families who move into the city have children, or, if they do, they enroll them in private or parochial schools. As a result, there's not enough of a tax base to pay for improvement of Boston's public schools at large, which is unfortunate.

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Wait, you’re saying if I live in the city and send my kids to private schools in get a lower tax rate than my neighbor who sends her kids to public schools? Is there some kind of rebate form I need to fill out for this tax break? How do I get my tax money back, because I’m being taxed at the same rate as everyone else who lives here, kids or no kids.

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Can live out their dreams of having a family. It's sad. With so few kids the BPS still sucks though.

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Attempting to "maintain neighborhood character" and limiting housing development inevitably means its going to change on you anyway. ("affordable" lotteries and rent control being wholly ineffective, the latter making things actively worse)

Also like with most DNC candidates, school choice for them & the rich and public schools for the rest (for their own good)

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Just the dnc candidates sent their kids to private schools? Trump sent his kids top public school? How about Romney?

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But they ALSO want YOU to have alternative options.

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It's merely there is no point bringing up Trump and Romney when they didn't campaign on restricting options for others that they themselves took advantage of.

Criticism of the DNC and similarly shitty local policies/mindsets is not some endorsement of scumbag in chief. Don't even know why you reached for that.

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Only the very rich and highly subsidized poor can afford to have children in the city. Everyone else in the middle doesn't have the wealth or .gov assistance to be able to afford raising children in Boston.

Without zoning reform to increase the number of family units built each year to keep up with population growth the problem is only going to get worse. The city council and mayor also seem keen adopt the same 'solutions' from increasingly unaffordable and stratified NYC and San Francisco which haven't worked instead of trying something different which might work.

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It’s the rich who are highly subsidized. That’s how they got rich.

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It’s the rich who are highly subsidized. That’s how they got rich.

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It’s the rich who are highly subsidized. That’s how they got rich.

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It’s the rich who are highly subsidized. That’s how they got rich.

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once was enough and nope

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That isn't the problem.

Want to free up those units? Build more of the housing that the people now living in them would prefer - aka fewer roommates.

The reasons that families don't live in Boston are complex. We considered buying in the city, but the schools were a definite non-starter for us. Not the quality of the schools - the hassles and bureaucracy and uncertainty.

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For a city that likes to consider itself 'world class' its public schools are pretty awful and generally unfriendly to families. So who would intentionally send their kids to these schools if they can afford not to?

Along with rapid transit, Boston desperately needs to fix its schools.

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That statement is too broad to be helpful.

There are 125 BPS schools. All 125 are "awful?" What does your awful even mean? Poor curriculum? Low resources? Declining MCAS scores?

Seems hard to believe that all of the schools would be all of those things. One could assume you would see strengths and weaknesses that differ from school to school.

The article tells us that our public schools have an increasingly more impoverished population. It sounds like that is where a lot of the struggles are coming from, not BPS policy failure. The solution would be getting middle-class families to not run away from the schools.

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I don't have a solution about how to fix them - I'm not sure it's possible. But until the Boston Public Schools are truly good and lose their reputation as being horrible, families who can afford to will leave the city.

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They lick their lips at the sound of a budget increase.

BPS is an employment agency first, voting block second and a school system third.

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The British Thermal Unit?

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At lot of the schools are actually good. If you're a middle class Roslindale resident, you have pretty much all good choices and there are 1500 seats at the exam schools so you have a good shot of your kid getting into one.

However.... you will not find anywhere to live which provides a family of say four with 1500 sq ft. of living space without having to sink a lot of your money and earnings into it.

If you listed 20 homes for sale at under $600k in WR and Roslindale (1500 sq. or larger lets say), they would all sell this weekend to families who want to live here.

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And those are two of the cheaper neighborhoods!

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Uncertainty, dealing with the bureaucracy, the lack of communication and stonewalling, the byzantine selection process. All are daunting, and sometimes more than some parents are willing to deal with.

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If all schools were quality schools, it wouldn't matter where your kids went. Unfortunately, some schools are better, some worse. Sounds like you didn't want to take the chance your kids wouldn't get one of the better schools.

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I'm not sure the map supports your theory. If it's about the quality of the public schools, why did the school-age population rise in West Roxbury and Hyde Park? The reputation of BPS, good or bad, has been fairly consistent for a long time, so it doesn't seem obvious to me that it would be driving a recent demographic shift.

It seems more likely that what's changed is housing costs. The places with the biggest losses are also largely the neighborhoods that have been gentrifying, filling up with well-paid young professionals and seeing their housing stock increasingly cater to that demographic. There are very few family-sized units left in Allston anymore that are both affordable to families and not already overstuffed with college students. The core neighborhoods that gained school-aged population have been expensive forever, so there's less displacement.

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Here's a link to # of suicides in MA, second leading cause for the youth category: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/state-fact-sheets/#Massachusetts

We're seemlessly creating a hell situation for our youth, if you're in a position to support them please reach out. Thanks

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Are showing some of the highest increases of child population in the city. As local business, just got solicitation letter from the North End's Eliot School, laying out plans to raise over half a million dollars this year for school programs (donations into non-profit supporting school). Not going into regular BPS fund, school-specific. Creating a private school - excuse me, neighborhood school, is getting flies to the honey jar, where they stay. Not saying it is equitable, but it's what BPS put into place years ago to save schools in the area from closing.

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I teach in Chelsea and rode the 111 with one of my students the other day. We passed by the new Eliot School building and she was staring at it. When I told her it was a school she both awed and pissed that somebody would build such a nice-looking school.

Something something "I can't believe they spent that much money on that. Where did they even GET the money anyways?"

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are also fighting tooth and nail to structurally prevent additional housing to be built and therefore eliminating the need to pay for new school buildings.

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It’s much less expensive to buy a single family house with a yard in a Boston neighborhood than in any suburban town with good schools. And property taxes for owner-occupied homes are much lower in Boston, especially when you include the residential exemption. And Boston spends over $22,000 per student (2018 figure), more than almost any other community in Massachusetts, including wealthy towns like Wellesley and Dover.

What's wrong? On paper, living in Boston should be a family's dream come true! For one thing, the city spends over $100 million a year driving kids all over the city in half-empty buses. If that’s supposed to solve any racial segregation, it’s not working. None of the city's major non-exam high schools has a white population over 11%. Take that $100 million and spend much more of it on better schools.

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The total cost of housing and tuition often comes out the same. Re moving to the 'burbs for better public schools, Megan McArdle noted "your tuition fees came bundled with granite countertops and hardwood floors."

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We considered moving to Newton or similar for the schools. However, we would have had to trade our beloved Victorian in Boston for a small ranch in another city. For us, doing private school and then Latin was a better move than moving for the schools.

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What specifically about the schools do you want to see better? What do you want to be changed.

I don't see schools failing, people seeing schools failing then running away.

I see schools getting poorer and darker skinned, people running away from that, which leads to them getting even poorer/darker, which leads to even more people running away from that, etc., etc.

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On the streets and on the MBTA because the data clearly shows that the number of teenage males no longer roam the streets and subway stations. There used to be close to a hundred thousand kids taking the subway when school got out and the T was out of control. No troublesome teens, no trouble on the T.

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It's not as simple as saying "it's the schools", because there are so many factors in people's perception of the schools.

White families fled the desegregation order in '74. A district that serves largely black and brown students was left to physically crumble until facilities became an embarrassment. Decades of city leadership ignored these students while their white former peers attended well-resourced schools in the suburbs.

During this time, the largely white and suburban Boston press painted the district as “inferior”. Privileged families consumed this fiction, bolstered by conscious or unconscious white supremacy and the belief that black and brown schools are “bad”. This is specifically cited in the report.

Meanwhile, education research shows that ALL kids benefit from attending well-integrated public schools. As Thurgood Marshall famously said in his Milliken v. Bradley dissent, "Unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever begin to live together.”

There's nothing inherently special or more desirable about white, middle-class kids. We should have taken care of the kids that were here for the past 40 years, but our leadership decided they weren't important enough.

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and more about families' economics and parents' education. Doesn't matter if your white, black, brown, or any other color - if parents/caregivers put education as a priority, the child will do better in school. Unfortunately, a lot of lower income families have other issues that may be more pressing at the moment than whether junior is behaving in class and finished his homework and has studied for tomorrow's test. Until education is the priority in homes, schools will continue to fail.

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City lost school age children. Not families with school age children. People aren’t having big families anymore.

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Young people move to Boston; party; get married; have a kid or two; then realize that BPS is going to spin a roulette wheel, and their 5 year old may have to sit on a bus for 3 hours a day, driving to some school on the other side of the city instead of going to the perfectly good school down the street.

So, family moves to a suburb where they have some predictability in schooling. 18 years later, leave the empty nest and move back to the city.

End this nonsense policy, and watch families actually move to the city, not flee.

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White parents (and black and Latino) who live in Dot, WR, Roslindale and JP and send their kids to schools in those neighborhoods or private/parochial schools. Black/Latino parents who live in Roxbury, Mattapan, Dot neighborhoods without goods schools have to put their kids on buses for 3 hours a day to get to a better school in the whiter neighborhoods. Or to charter schools, also in other neighborhoods.

I know some white and middle class parents in the Parkway whose kids have longish commutes to private schools or charters but I don't know of any who put their kids on long bus rides for general BPS schools outside their neighborhoods for k-8 seats.

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I concur. My friends with children in BPS (Dorchester, Roslindale, Hyde Park) don't send their kids far away to school. Certainly not to what one would consider the other side of the city.

Small sample size, but it hasn't given me the impression that if I put my kid in BPS that they would have to travel far away.

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You want neighborhood schools? Where would you put them?

Keep in mind that the state requires a minimum acreage for k-5 and k-8 that means tearing stuff down to build them.

Furthermore, where would you put them such that the meet the requirements for non-segregation? The catchments would have to span neighborhood lines.

I agree that spending childhood on a bus or in a car isn't the best idea - show us all how you would make it work, and how much it would cost.

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Housing and education are fiercely connected. The development in the Boston has gone in the wrong direction: absentee luxury condos, millennial professional and student housing all amounting to an emphasis on a transient population that has no engagement in the social fabric of a healthy city.

The Mayor and City Council need to BE BOLD and step up to the plate SOON while the BOOM continues.

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I know it’s not the focus of this discussion, but that map really irks me:

1. Why include precinct lines if the results are only summed at the neighborhood level?
2. Why label all neighborhoods aside from the North End?
3. Why misrepresent all of Logan as East Boston instead of leaving off the Winthrop piece?
4. Why include any blue at all for the Charles River if there isn’t any blue for Boston Harbor?
5. Why include the Riverway/Emerald Necklace orange coloring as a spigot of Jamaica Plain instead of Fenway/Longwood?

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My daughter is only in Kindergarten but so far the BPS school in Hyde Park has been good in terms of education and having a community. Hyde Park is also still relatively affordable compared to housing costs in many other parts of the city and has lots of green space.

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Boston has become a city for the rich. If you can’t afford to live here, we don’t need your kind here. Get over it. Times are changing.

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