Private School Stats: The Hispanic Factor

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Jed Kolko writes in CityLab on private school stats:

Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, private school enrollment tends to be highest in places that are richer, more educated, and more Catholic, though less Hispanic, than the national average. Among the top 10 metros for private school enrollment, income is particularly high in Honolulu, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Wilmington. New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Cleveland also have a high share of Catholics. Finally, in all of these metros except San Francisco, the Hispanic population share is low.

Top 10 Metros with the Highest Private School Enrollment
# U.S. Metro Private school enrollment
1 New Orleans, LA 25.1%
2 Honolulu, HI 20.7%
3 San Francisco, CA 19.9%
4 Baton Rouge, LA 19.1%
5 Philadelphia, PA 18.4%
6 Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ 17.6%
7 Cleveland, OH 17.5%
8 Milwaukee, WI 17.0%
9 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 16.9%
10 St. Louis, MO-IL 16.7%
Note: among 100 largest U.S. metros. Grades 1-12 only.

Besides Catholics, having a lot of blacks drives up private school enrollment for white flight reasons. New Orleans, Honolulu, and San Francisco all have Old Money and SF has New Money (and Timeless Money) too.

On the flip side, the 10 metros where private school enrollment is lowest are in the Southwest or West. All except Salt Lake City have large Hispanic populations—a reminder that private schools are popular among non-Hispanic Catholics, but not among Hispanic Catholics. Additionally, Fresno, El Paso, and Bakersfield are all relatively low income.

Top 10 Metros with the Lowest Private School Enrollment
# U.S. Metro Private school enrollment
1 Fresno, CA 3.7%
2 El Paso, TX 4.3%
3 Bakersfield, CA 4.6%
4 Las Vegas, NV 5.5%
5 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 6.0%
6 Phoenix, AZ 6.2%
7 Houston, TX 6.2%
8 Salt Lake City, UT 6.9%
9 San Antonio, TX 7.2%
10 Austin, TX 7.2%
Note: among 100 largest U.S. metros. Grades 1-12 only.

In my SoCal experience, a surprising fraction of Catholic school kids with Spanish surnames turn out to be Filipino. The Catholic hierarchy demands more Latin American immigration, but they ought to keep in mind that Mexicans don’t send their kids to Catholic schools much. I don’t know whether it’s Mexican anti-clericalism or, more likely, Mexicans just aren’t all that much into this whole investing in your children’s education thing.

Neighborhoods with extremely high private school enrollment include wealthy areas in big-city school districts. Examples include the Upper East Side of Manhattan (72% private), Upper Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington, DC (73%), and several upscale neighborhoods in mid-size cities. In addition, the much lower-income, orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Monsey, NY, and Lakewood, NJ, also have high private school enrollment. In several neighborhoods across the country with large Amish, Mormon, and other religious communities, private school enrollment is over 50 percent. New York’s Upper East Side, parts of Lancaster County, PA, and Colorado City, AZ, may have little else in common, but they are all communities where private school is the norm.

Colorado City, AZ is a polygamous Fundamentalist LDS town. I’d be surprised if the patriarchs are paying for all that private schooling out of their own pockets. They usually have multiple scams going to fleece the state and federal taxpayers.

Kolko even goes on to consider something that everybody talks about in their own lives but never seems to get quantified in the press:

Time To Do the Math: Do Private Schools or Great Public School Districts Cost More?

Like most things with active markets, it turns out to be something of a toss-up, but Kolko has some interesting numbers such as:

So let’s call out 10 ZIP codes with low private school enrollment, but where families have higher incomes, parents are highly educated, and the school district has an average GreatSchools rating of 8 or more (This list is for illustration only because small sample sizes mean high margins of error.)

Upscale Neighborhoods Where Kids Go to Public Schools
# ZIP code Neighborhood U.S. Metro Private school enrollment Median asking price per SQFT
1 10514 Chappaqua New York, NY-NJ 2% $326
2 11753 Jericho Long Island, NY 2% $340
3 08536 Plainsboro Edison-New Brunswick, NJ 3% $202
4 01719 Boxborough Middlesex County, MA 4% $185
5 02466 Auburndale Middlesex County, MA 4% $354
6 60564 Naperville Chicago, IL 4% $155
7 07028 Glen Ridge Newark, NJ-PA 5% $243
8 01778 Wayland Middlesex County, MA 5% $288
9 77094 Eldridge- Green Trails Houston, TX 6% $131
10 01730 Bedford Middlesex County, MA 6% $308

Chappaqua is where the Clintons maintain their legal residence.

Anyway, it’s a good collection of data so check out Kolko’s article, complete with better formatting of tables.