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Jun. 21 2010 - 5:36 pm | 155 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Did D.C. get screwed by Parenting magazine – and is race involved?

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Parenting mag has unveiled its newest list of Best Cities for Families – and Arlington, Virginia has landed the top spot. It’s not too surprising – the article praises the city’s school system, its home values, and for having numerous historical sites nearby, “including the Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial and a World War II Memorial.”

It doesn’t take a geography whiz to realize that the latter two attractions are in nearby Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, which despite a resurgence of coolness that has attracted “The Real World,” “Top Chef” and “The Real Housewives” franchises, is waaaaay further down on the list, at No. 71.

P.J. Orvetti of NBCWashington.com rightly takes Parenting to task for the rankings differential, noting that Arlington is praised for many things that are true of D.C., and is lauded for many historical treasures that actually belong to the District:

D.C. is great — and Arlington is great, and Alexandria and Silver Spring and all the surrounding cities and towns are great — precisely because we have such a unique mix of the urban and the rural, the cultural and the pastoral. This whole region deserves to top any parent’s list.

Orvetti also wonders how other cities earned praise for their parks and open spaces, when D.C. has both, and is situated close to numerous outdoor recreation areas and forests.

But what Orvetti doesn’t touch on is the obvious implication – particularly when Parenting applauds Arlington’s schools system – is the race differential involved. Now, no one is questioning that D.C. schools have long struggled. But they are improving, particularly under Michelle Rhee’s leadership, and the fact that Arlington is a mostly white suburb, while middle-class families whose kids attend D.C. public schools are mostly black makes me wonder if race was a silent factor in ranking two cities so similar, that enjoy so many of the same advantages.


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    I'm a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focusing on pop and politics, race and culture, and where Gen-Yers fit into it all. My writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, WashingtonPost.com, the San Francisco Chronicle and People magazine. Among other things, I'm Oregon-born, hip-hop-addicted, and weirdly optimistic that the journalism business will stay alive.

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