The current economy has been increasingly compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s in the popular media. In that context, it is striking to read a New York Times story about school choice in New York and the trials and tribulations of middle-school parents.
A two-sentence passage captures the extreme fear mongering at work, comically dropping the words “worry,” “fleeing,” “urgent,” “frightening specter,” “fear,” “impending,” “endanger,” and “surliest” in rapid-fire succession.
What could they possibly be so freaked out about? Is it an armed insurrection?
See for yourself (from the New York Times):
“This year, worry that the economic downturn could create an influx of students fleeing private schools has only ratcheted up the anxiety in the city’s wealthier neighborhoods. In the lowest-performing districts, the pressure is more urgent because of a new retention policy that could hold back many failing eighth-graders, raising the frightening specter of hallways populated by bearded teenagers. Many parents also fear that impending budget cuts could endanger the arts and sports programs they rely on to captivate even the surliest adolescent.”
For the record, retaining more “failing eighth-graders” — even at the risk of excessive facial hair — would do wonders for students who are unprepared for high school. And giving parents more information about how school funds are spent might enhance prioritization in spending, risking fewer valuable programs.