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Public school not good enough for Obama's kids

A name from the past - former Boston City Councilwoman and U.S. Rep. L. Day Hicks - has been pretty much consigned to the Orwellian memory hole in educational-policy circles in the last few years.

Hicks committed two unforgiveable political sins. One was her prediction, which turned out to be accurate, that mandatory Boston school integration across class lines would cause middle-class flight.

The other prediction was her equally accurate observation that the typically upper-middle-class activists pushing for such integration were safely ensconced in suburban or exurban school districts sufficiently distant from such initiatives so that their own kids wouldn't be affected.

Mrs. Hicks, the reviled antibussing voice of the '70s, died five years ago; the only recognitions of her insights which you'll find in the contemporary educational literature are the uncredited changes in their integration talking points.

They're surfacing now in the context of Burlington's proclaimed intent to carry out Socio-Economic-Status integration in a couple of the low-SES elementary schools by turning then into "magnets" so attractive to middle-class families that they'll voluntarily send their kids to them.

Thus, integration advocate Richard Kahlenberg of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council no longer defends the 1954 Brown v. Board SCOTUS decision for black or low-SES kids benefitting from sitting next to white or middle-SES kids; his new claim is that white or middle-SES parents demand higher-quality schools, and black or low-SES parents don't, and so "low-income schools spend about half of what more affluent schools spend per pupil" and are therefore worse.

So I looked up spending, by State, in the 50-State Comparison published by the Taxpayers' Network. Top-spending "State" for 2006-7 was the low-SES District of Columbia public school system, at $16,540 annually, per pupil.

The national average was $9,557. Top median-family-income State, Connecticut, was 7th at $13,005. Vermont, at no. 20 for household income, spent more ($13,385) than no. 2-for-income Maryland and less than such now-high-poverty cities as Boston, with a 26 percent poverty rate and $14,602 in per-pupil spending in 2002, as reported in the 2005 National Digest of Educational Statistics.

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