Now, let’s exploit those white folks for better schools!

Meredith School
The Meredith School is a huge selling point for homeowners looking to sell or buy in Queen Village.

In our last post on the bleaching of urban America, including some Philadelphia neighborhoods like Northern Liberties and Point Breeze, we remarked that the influx of these better-off white residents actually represented a golden opportunity for our cities, this one included. The education policy analyst who posted the statistics clearly holds this view too. Here’s why.

Many of these (we assume) more affluent recent white arrivals in city neighborhoods are not following the traditional migratory path of young families over the past few decades, which is: Graduate college, move into city for urban excitement, find mate, marry, have children, move to suburb with schools that don’t suck.

Nebinger School
Nebinger, just south of Meredith could be too - it performs well on state assessments. It could perform even better with assistance from involved parents.

Instead, they are staying put – and even taking their chances on the local public schools. Many go to great lengths to make sure they live in a neighborhood with a good public school (some local examples: Meredith in Queen Village, Penn Alexander in University City) or put their kids into the lotteries for the better charter schools like Independence.

The point, however, is to spread their wealth – and their concern – around. Penn Alexander full to bursting? Let’s go to work to make Lea better through involved parents, which these new arrivals definitely are. Can’t find a home in the Meredith attendance district? Move to the Nebinger district next door and join the effort to build on its demonstrated strengths.

While some consider this fact inconvenient, it nonetheless remains true: Poor children do better in schools where there are many middle-class students too. And many of these new white arrivals want – or at least say they want – truly diverse environments for their children to live and learn in. They are creating them by their arrival. They can maintain them by working with the longtime residents, both on their blocks and in the schools they all can attend.

Some local civic groups have already figured this out. We will take a look at some of their efforts in future posts.

-By Sandy Smith for

Photos from Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license