Michael Lewyn posted this article on Planetizen about what is perceived as an “anti-family” orientation in urban areas. He first addresses a variety of New Urbanist developments in Dallas and Stapleton in Denver. The developments ranged from downtown, to outer urban area, to suburbs. He first of all makes the point that New Urbanist developments should and usually do have a mix of housing types, including single-family homes. Stapleton in particular is an extremely family-friendly area, with lots of park space and good schools. He then goes back to families in old urban areas, such as the original streetcar suburbs and the Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
It is my opinion that part of the reason people don’t want to raise their kids in urban settings is because urban schools are terrible. They have suffered from poor investment, a lack of qualified teachers, and from the fact that those who live in the community and are able to donate time and money often aren’t willing to stay in these neighborhoods when they move up in society. The Congress for the New Urbanism has put out a variety of publications on school choice, including charter schools and vouchers, as ways to improve urban schools. Despite the fact that these systems have practically had universally positive results, they are often hard to implement, partially due to political inertia and in a large part due to opposition from the teacher’s union. Normally I’m all about unions, but in this case, the union is hurting our kids and our cities, and they need to wake up and stop it. I hope that those who read this will be willing to work to improve school choice in their cities so as to invite families back to urban areas.