Thursday, May 31, 2012

WP: Can DC Grow W/its 20 Somethings?

This Post opinion piece discusses the influx of new residents, and wonders whether the District can mature to meet their needs as they have and raise children. You may have noticed a bit of a baby boom in the H Street Corridor. It started on Capitol Hill, but is also happening Trinidad. I'm noticing that many people who moved to the neighborhood within the past several years (sometimes past few) are having children, and making it clear that they don't plan to head for the suburbs. On Capitol Hill, involved parents have worked together to improve the DCPS schools. We've also seen the formation of new charters like Two Rivers.


monkeyrotica said...

Around a third of the people I know who've had kids end up staying in DC. Once the kid get school age, unless they can afford private or get locked into a good neighborhood school with a lot of neighborhood involvement, they bail.

Anonymous said...

I have no desire to bail on Trinidad at any point, but I've got to admit to having some concerns for a few years down the road. I went to a pretty poor public school where I grew up (on the west coast), and, frankly, I think I suffered for it.

I'm hoping we can get into a school like Two Rivers and then that we can find other good options as the kid gets older, but it's a real issue for me.

--Trinidadian with a baby

Kenny G said...


Yeah, that used to be the case. Not so much anymore. Our son is finishing up at Brent Elementary this year. We were considering to bail when we got him in there as 'out of bounds'. At the time, the school was still struggling. It has completely transformed in his tenure there thanks to the hard work of a huge group of parents and a whiz-bang principal who was not afraid to shake things up.

We have been watching Maury undergo a similar transformation and will be sending our daughter there 'in bounds' in a few years.

There is still a lot of work to be done in many of the elementary schools, but there is a groundswell of improvement.

Don't get me started on middle schools, though.

Anonymous said...

dear middle class people,
PLEASE stay in the city when you have kids. you may not be able to change the world but you can absolutely help change this city. we need you.

Anonymous said...

Kwame Brown hates 20 somethings. Hence he cut all funding for NoMa parks.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad your children will suffer because of your selfish desire to remain close to trendy theme bars. I mean a VA education vs. a DC public school education? Bitch, please....

Anonymous said...

Most people roll out with equity to the suburbs after the 3rd grade and return as empty nesters. Others will need to get a weekend house in the country to keep the kids out of trouble as they get older.

Anonymous said...

If I had children I wouldn't send them to DCPS.

How many Hill parents are home-schooling?

Anonymous said...

just turned 30. when i start to have kids, im not raising them in dc. no way

Dave B said...

I went to below average public schools growing up. They put the smart kids in classes with other smart kids and everything worked out fine. Dont they still do that?

Maybe a very very very good school (likely private) can get an average student into a very good college instead of a good college. But more likely than not, your child's success will depend on getting lucky with the gene pool, the values you instill in him/her, the expectations you set for them, and what happens in their lives before they reach the normal suburban kindergarten age of 5 (DCPS actually has various PreK programs (Montessori, etc) that many school districts don't offer for 3 year olds).

I would not send them to DCPS if I felt they were in physical danger. DCPS I think also has shitty sports programs.

However, this is all sort of irrelevant to me now and should be to many twenty somethings who dont have kids yet. If I were to have a kid today, DCPS/my neghoborhood school would still have 5 years to improve before I had to make a decision. That is a long time to remove the few crackbabies that are largely screwing up the schools for everyone and replace them with non crackbabies. Or maybe the rising tide lifts all boats and the would-be crackbabies dont become as much of a problem as they see a culture develop in the neighborhood/school that doesnt value being jackoff

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:35 - Kwame Brown hates 20 somethings, the middle class with kids, (cut funding for NoMa playgrounds), H St and improved transportation options (pulling Tommy Wells out of the Transportation Committee Chairmanship).

Anonymous said...

12:32, 1:48, 2:18:

We have two kids, and we've stayed in the H St neighborhood because we like it (and our neighbors). We could have moved to the suburbs, but didn't. We haven't gone to the trendy bars since we became parents - our children are in DC, but not because of "our selfish desire."

We were skeptical about the DC public schools as well. We have, like many of our neighbors with families, been able to get the kids into surprisingly good DC public schools. It took some research, and some time on wait-lists, but it's going well. Like our friends, we have high standards for what we want for our kids, and high expectations for their schools. So far, the kids are thriving.

Anonymous said...

responding to anon 10.06
we are "middle class" and we'd like to stay in the city when we have kids. i don't defend the 'in your face' style of michele rhee, but she was reforming the dc schools. the electorate of the city didn't seem to like that, the dc teachers union spent a lot of money, and grey and his cronies were able to win without any platform at all. dc public school teachers deserve a lot of credit for their efforts, but the union officials seem to want the status quo. all grey has said about school reform is 'we have to work with the unions.'
it's hard to think about sending kids to school in a city this committed to "the status quo" when the status quo is so obviously dysfunctional.

mizage said...

As a Cap Hill resident with two kids I've had no problems with DCPS. My 4 year old currently attends Ludlow Taylor, and although the outside of the building badly needs a paint job, I have no complaints. He has a great teacher and I'm very pleased with his progress.

My other kid attends Brent, which is a very good school.

As a product of the suburbs I'm not too keen to get back there. The reason I stay has nothing to do with trendy bars. I think the overall experience a city offers to someone growing up is much better then the average suburb. Don't worry my kids get plenty of time in the woods! :)

ibc said...

If I had children I wouldn't send them to DCPS.

If you had children (and lived in DC) you might know what you're talking about. Since you don't, it's understandable that you don't.

Anonymous said...

There are good programs out there in DC. There are quite a few good charter schools like Two Rivers, LAMB, Yu Ying, Mundo Verde, and Capital City. There are some pretty good elementary schools in DCPS as well like Brent, Janney, Key, Capitol Hill Montessori, and Ludlow Taylor. You do have some do some research, and have a bit of luck, but there are options and you don't have to bail for the suburbs.

SunnyFloridaAve said...

Spot on IBC, I also really like your root beer.

Hillman said...

Just because you grow up doesn't mean you have kids.

I for one would welcome amenities for grownups, sans kids.

Like restaurants that take reservations. Like adults used to do it.

And restaurants that don't strive to make a noisy, diners on top of each other atmosphere.

Again, like adults.

Robby Mann-Thompson said...

We don’t have children, we may never have children. I live across the school with an amazing Principle and seemingly good teachers. What makes that school bad seems to be the students. I’m not sure how you fix that, some of the students even go to the Charter school right down the street from the DCPS school, they have the same issues. DC can invest in DCPS, Charter Schools or Vouchers, but save for home schooling you are at the mercy of the student population.

I attended what is now Takoma Elementary Campus out of bounds. In the 80s this public school had more resources than most private schools in Ward 3 did. 3-4 computer labs, Entirely separate gym building with full facilities, three lunch rooms, full Science Lab, full Auditorium, Art studio, full medical suite, massive fields and multiple play grounds, and more. However, while there were bright and wonderful kids there, there were also troubled kids from very unfortunate homes. The school was k-8 and after 6th grade the issues magnified. I begged not to go to the public school with them for HS, and I didn’t. My mother scraped to send me to a private school. She should not have had to, but this was the early 90s and DCPS was FUBAR. Violence was rampant, teachers were burning out, and buildings were falling apart. It’s funny now, the very high school I begged not to go to, was recently listed as one of the best in the country. The teachers really didn’t change, the building was fixed, and the demographics of the students change. Middle class families increased and lower class families moved or started sending their kids to charter schools in hopes of affording them better opportunities. In a strange way Charters spread the low class around vice keeping it in one area. Well, that is for low class parents who care. Nevertheless it took almost 20 years for that school to turn around. Kids have 2 years of PK 1 year of K and then 12 years of schooling. Who has 20 years to wait?

Part of DC’s school problem is its class problem, and part of its class problem is its school problem. It’s odd that DC’s not focusing on it for the goal of helping the people who’ve been here, but to help keep the people who are moving here. It’s kinda Orwellian (Animal Farm not 1984).

Future Trinidad Parent said...

Hillman - Plenty of places take reservations throughout the neighborhood and offer a more "adult" setting. Atlas Room, Ethiopic, Boundary Road, Kushi and plenty of others. For those with kids there are places like Argonaut and Liberty Tree where you can go for an early dinner and clear out before the non-families come in. I've even had a good time at Biergarten and The Pug during the day with friend's kids. Lots of options for everyone around here.

Anonymous said...

TwaB here again.

There are so many problems with life in the suburbs it's hard to even get started. Let me put it this way: I live in the city not just because I like having multiple coffee shops within walking distance, but because I believe cities are better for people and better for the country than suburbs. Those car parks and '50s fantasy villages are soul-sucking.

That's my perspective, of course. As I mentioned earlier in the thread (9:24), I've got some reservations about school. And it's not just a life-in-the-city vs. life-in-the-suburbs debate.

I went to a crappy school system in semi-rural Washington State, and I [expletive] hated it. Middle school was particularly horrible (though I suspect that middle school may always be horrible).

When I went to college, I couldn't believe how many things my peers had studied and done that I hadn't. I'd been getting trotted around as one of the smartest kids in my class, much to my detriment, while kids in better schools were getting challenged.

Frankly, my life would be different if I'd gone to schools as exceptional as some of those in the NoVA suburbs. As much as I hate the [again, an expletive] suburbs.

But is it worth dooming my child to a minivan-transported shut-in lifestyle? I dunno.

oboe said...

Hillman - Plenty of places take reservations throughout the neighborhood and offer a more "adult" setting.

I think Hillman was just hijacking the topic. Surely he can't believe that restaurants are the way they are in DC because they excessively cater to parents with small children?

Damn Sticky Rice & Toki Underground for ignoring the needs of childless adults!

Anonymous said...

I'm happy we chose to raise our kids here, two blocks south of H Street. Capitol Hill is an amazing community to be a part of. While I once fretted that they would never get to explore on their own they are now old enough to walk or ride bikes to the park, the corner store, to their friends house. Like regular kids!

We loved our kids public charter elementary school and are excited to send them to a new one in the fall. It's going to be the most challenging public middle and high school in the city next fall. They will take a city bus!

It's not perfect. The suburbs have many more paying fields for sports and the High School sports scene is confusing here.

I think the suburbs are too child oriented. It's such an artificial lifestyle. Here my kids are a part of a community with young people and older folks. They know the world doesn't revolve around them and their needs.
I still do more driving around than I'd like for some of activities but we are all getting better about biking and that will only get better.
And the suburbs suck for teens. All that aimless driving terrifies me. My kids won't need to drive for a long time. I hope. Maybe there will even be a streetcar for them!

Anonymous said...

We have a young child and are districted in Payne Elementary, by all accounts a horrible school, even though we are physically closer to Watkins, by most accounts a good school. We're not sure what we'll do when our child is school-age. We've heard horror stories about waiting lists for traditional public and charter schools, and can't afford private school.

We want to stay in the city, but don't want to be trapped into going to Payne if waiting lists don't work out. I went to a poor public school in a medium-sized city and turned out OK, but nothing in my school that made it "poor" compares to the stories about DC schools like Payne I've heard from friends and acquaintances who have experiences teaching there. We'd even be willing to suffer through a few challenging years if in the long-term we were confident that Payne could improve, but I think unique factors make it more challenging in this particular case (some big public housing developments are districted in Payne, which could explain why its demographics and test scores have stayed the same while many other elementaries on the Hill have changed over the past few years).

I doubt we can afford another house elsewhere on the Hill without downsizing, so unless we get an early sign that we'll make the cut on a waiting list, it looks like it's the surburbs for us.

heyktb said...

As the parent of three grown children, all of whom went to suburban schools at one point growing up, I can honestly say I feel like a sell out now that I live back in the city. If my kids were still small, and we lived in our neighborhood now, I would so send them to out local ps, JO Wilson. Although I never bought into the minivan culture and worked hard to make sure they experienced other cultures through travel and living abroad, the relentless monotony of
cul de sac living was mind numbing and soul sucking.
The suburbs do encourage an extreme degree of helicopter syndrome in parents.
You must fight hard to resist the borg! And when you are successful in doing so, you are seen as an imperfect parent for not baking another 4 dozen cupcakes.
When our youngest left for college, our house went on the market and we fled the burbs...I just wished we had the guts (and financial resources!)to do so when they were still in school. The good news is that now our kids want to come home to visit...H street is a great incentive!

Apple pie said...

I am a product of DCPS and I gotta say if I had children I would probably move to VA. Washington Lee in N Arlington is one of the best schools in the country. Why pay for private school when you can just move to Arlington or even Chantilly where cost of living isn't as expensive. I love DC but the schools system needs work.

Anonymous said...

There are some pretty good elementary schools in DCPS as well like Brent, Janney, Key, Capitol Hill Montessori, and Ludlow Taylor

um ... which one (at least, but especially one) does not belong? I'm not even sure this includes the really good NW ES options -- anyone in Upper NW can tell you what JMLSE stands for.

I've come to appreciate that 20 somethings know absolutely nothing when it comes to school options, much like I did in my 20s.