Data suggest New York City parents are turning away from public schools

America’s most politically progressive cities are well-known for not putting into practice what they preach. Advocates for school choice love to point out that many of the celebrity keyboard warriors and liberal policymakers who attack homeschooling, charter schools, and vouchers send their own children to private schools and likely would never entertain a public alternative. This is true even when top-notch public schools are available in their own backyard, stealing resources from kids in less affluent neighborhoods where parents have fewer alternatives. It’s no surprise that charter schools are coming to dominate these areas.

The actual numbers of families choosing not to put their children in traditional public schools in New York City is stunning.

An article today’s Wall Street Journal points out that 28% percent of all students in New York City are enrolled in private or charter schools now. The difference is even more stark when you look at data on a neighborhood level.

About 18% of 1.24 million city children in kindergarten through 12th grade attended private schools in the last academic year, and almost 10% went to charter schools…

Among families residing in affluent District 2, which includes Tribeca and the Upper East Side, for example, about 42% of roughly 57,100 children attended private schools, although many public options there are high-performing. Within easy traveling distance are more than a dozen well-known independent schools. Some have annual tuition and fees topping $50,000…

Private-school attendance was also high in Brooklyn’s District 14, which includes Williamsburg, where many Orthodox Jewish families choose yeshivas. About 60% of 36,100 children who live in that district went to private schools in the last academic year.

The city system is divided into 32 geographic districts of varying sizes. In elementary years, children are typically matched to public-zoned schools in their neighborhood. They often travel farther from home in upper grades.

About 656,400 children went to traditional public schools in their home districts, and about 246,200 went to public schools in other districts last year.

About 118,600 children citywide attended charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately operated. Charter operators typically open in high-poverty neighborhoods with concentrations of black and Hispanic children to provide alternatives to struggling district schools…

In central Brooklyn’s small District 16, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, about 30% of the 11,900 students went to charters. About 41% of students living in District 16 attended regular public schools in other districts. About one-third of students in the district’s traditional public schools passed state tests in reading and math in the spring, according to city data.

For decades, education policy in this country has been about folks with no dog in the fight telling other people how to raise their children. People with resources get de facto school choice. People who do not have resources get to send their children to failing public schools unless free-market activists establish a charter school there. That’s how economic elites in these cities shelter their own children from competition.

But you know that’s not what they are saying to their nominally progressive friends on Twitter.

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