Only the best for you, my pretty
Leaving the City for the Schools, and Regretting It
By WINNIE HU
Published: November 13, 2006
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Mimi and Gol Ophir left behind their Riverside Drive apartment with views of the Hudson a decade ago to move to the Westchester suburbs, reluctantly trading comfort and convenience for what they believed would be better public schools for their growing family.
Only the suburban bargain the Ophirs thought they were getting turned out to be no bargain at all. They chose the Yorktown school system, a relatively well-off district whose students consistently outscore their peers on state tests. But the Ophirs came to view the schools as uninspiring and unresponsive, and now they pay $51,000 a year for their children, 11-year-old Dylan and 9-year-old Sabrina, to attend the private Hackley School here — on top of $23,000 annually in property taxes.
“That’s the whole point of moving to Westchester: you pay the high taxes, but you get the good schools,” Mrs. Ophir, 43, a full-time mother who formerly worked as a lawyer, said with anger and frustration. “That’s the tradeoff, I thought.”
Like the Ophirs, many New Yorkers with the means to do so flee the city when they have children, seeing the suburbs as a way to stay committed to public education without compromising their standards for safety and academics.
Yet a small but growing number of such parents are abandoning even some of the top-performing public schools in the region. In school districts like Scarsdale, N.Y., and Montclair, N.J., where high test scores and college admission rates have built national reputations and propelled real estate prices upward, these demanding families say they were disappointed by classes that were too crowded, bare-bones arts and sports programs, and an emphasis on standardized testing rather than creative teaching.
Some are private school graduates themselves who, try as they might, feel guilty giving their offspring anything less. Others were spoiled by their children’s experiences in private school in preschool or the early grades before leaving the city. Still others simply found that public school programs in suburbia did not live up to their promise.
So they forsake city living to wind up shouldering the double burden of high taxes and tuition bills. Or they end up moving back to Manhattan or commuting with children in tow to the city’s private schools.
“It was not part of our plan at all, and I’m not sure how sustainable it is,” said Tracy Fauver, of Bedford, N.Y., whose three children attend the Rippowam Cisqua School in the town; tuition there runs from $17,500 to more than $26,000 per student. She said her husband’s Ford Focus had become something of a joke parked alongside his co-workers’ Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, as the family has forgone fancy cars and vacations to afford the tuition.
Here's the irony, the region's best schools are public, as they are in the city.
posted by Steve @ 1:31:00 AM