How Very Sad

May 18, 2011

I live in the City of Mount Vernon, New York.

Mount Vernon is a small city (70,000 residents) located immediately north of New York City.

As a stand-alone city, Mount Vernon is fully self-sufficient, including a school district.

The Mount Vernon City School District (“MVCSD”) currently has about 8,600 students.

According to recent census statistics, there are about 12,500 residents of Mount Vernon in the 5 to 18 age group, which implies that nearly 4,000 young people who live in the City of Mount Vernon attend schools outside of the District.

What seems to have occurred over the past several decades is an economic exodus from the MVCSD, among families with economic resources in search of school environments that have a high probability of both admission to — and graduation from — a “good” college or university that will lead students to a career which allows income (cash-flow) sufficient to support a middle class life style.

This economic exodus has helped to support and/or encourage a concentration of higher need students into MVCSD (and other similar districts which are predominantly urban).

Dozens – maybe hundreds – of studies have confirmed that the primary predictor of success in school is highly correlated to household economic status.

Subsequent demonstration projects have shown that creative interventions can offset socio-economic disadvantages, and put children from economically challenged households on par with their middle-class peers.

On May 17, 2011 a small group of eligible voters – less than 10% — flocked to the polls in Mount Vernon and defeated the proposed MVCSD budget for 2011-12.

I am not smart enough to determine if the proposed school budget was an optimum budget, but I do know that the presented budget was very much like the contingency budget that will likely be adopted instead.

So, the small percentage of eligible voters who came out to the polls accomplished little, except to highlight that the civic participation among citizens of the City of Mount Vernon is awful.

No excuses.

In a city where over 30,000 residents are eligible to vote, why are just 8.5% turning out to vote?

I think the MVCSD is one huge culprit in this mess.

Where were they with proactive information?

I’m not a happy tax payer. I really would like to think that young people in my community have an equal opportunity with their peers in other communities, across New York State, and the U.S.

I don’t think we are there now, and I’m angry!

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