The Middle Class, Urban Schools, and Choice

24 Pages Posted: 25 May 2017

See all articles by Michael Lewyn

Michael Lewyn

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Date Written: May 24, 2017


It is common knowledge that middle- and upper-class parents tend to disfavor urban public schools, and that they often move to suburbs in order to avoid having to send their children to those schools. Thus, the condition of urban public schools contributes to suburban sprawl—that is, the movement of people and jobs from city to suburb. Because most suburbs are highly dependent on automobiles, such sprawl makes it more difficult for people without cars to reach jobs and other destinations, as well as increasing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of automobile related pollution.This Article discusses a variety of possible solutions to the unpopularity of urban schools among middle-class parents. Part I of this Article suggests that this problem is a cause as well as a result of middle class flight: that is, urban schools have poor reputations because their students come from lower-class backgrounds, thus causing poor test scores, thus causing poor reputations, thus causing additional middle-class flight. Part II of this Article describes the legal doctrines that have led to the status quo. Part III discusses the pros and cons of several policies that might lure middle-class families into cities, focusing on policies designed to enhance parental choice. This Article concludes that each of these solutions could make cities more appealing to affluent parents, but no solution is cost-free.

Keywords: Urban public schools

Suggested Citation

Lewyn, Michael, The Middle Class, Urban Schools, and Choice (May 24, 2017). 4 Belmont Law Review 85 (2017); Belmont University College of Law Research Paper No. 2017-17. Available at SSRN:

Michael Lewyn (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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