White Oak Music Hall’s Partial Debut Approaching; Icehouse Living


Photo: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


24 Comment

  • East End got mentioned as #2 for hot neighborhoods. Guys, the propaganda is working. Muhahahaha!

  • Why Houstonians are actually upset with public housing is that for schools to be good there needs to be a high concentration of kids from families that value education. Middle class and up families tend to value education as its mostly how they became middle class and up. We should help people break out of the culture of poverty by rewarding people who demonstrate commitment to education. Reward them with transfers to schools with likeminded families running things in the PTA. Things like expensive facilities are not what makes a school good. Lots of great teachers work in terrible schools so it isn’t that either.

  • Will the housing authority use the list to find “high opportunity neighborhoods” suitable for public housing?

  • Public Housing – The reason kids are at risk in low income areas are because of these STUPID FREAKING Superintendents. Three of the projects on that list go to Bruce Elementary. During the month of Feb, they have the kids do a whole Black History Month Education course culminating with a Black History Month Olympics. I wonder why these kids have trouble reading or doing math at their grade level when local leaders are more interested in indoctrinating kids, rather than teaching them.


  • The real issue with the Housing Authority’s proposed Galleria development is the reported $6 million “developer fee” in the overall $52 million dollar budget. To call this fee “above market” in the private sector is simply an understatement and borders on the line of criminal. Whoever is involved in this development should be ashamed to allow a fee like that to be paid with public funds.

  • @ Commenter7: Maybe something was lost in communication because my gut instinct is to accuse you of advocating for a class-based version of the white man’s burden, but only selectively in instances where meritocracy does not conflict with aristocracy. Please very simply elucidate valid and objective criteria that a school district might theoretically utilize to measure 1) which family units value education, or 2) which individual students demonstrate commitment to education. For right now, ignore existing federal and state law.

  • @ Mr. Clean19: I had an opportunity some years back to notice the same patterns playing out in La Marque ISD as played out in Northforest ISD previously. About that, a community that has become radically segregated not only by ethnicity but by socioeconomic class, which is politically disenfranchised through gerrymandering, voting restrictions, a lack of media interest (due to media consumption habits and low wealth in the population itself), and whose ostensible leaders in many cases seem to have incentives to prefer it that way…well yeah, that’s not a healthy situation at all. The problem is non-linear and insidious.
    It may be that one solution is to re-conceive of the concept of school districts altogether and go for regionalism. IIRC, all schools in the general vicinity of Houston are classified as “Region 4”. Maybe that would be the appropriate scale of a school district.

  • @Niche – no one in my family is a member of an aristocracy however you define that. People worked and studied to get ahead. I also grew up with underrepresented minorities who did the same. The neighborhood did highly value education and was very upwardly mobile as a result. People get upset when a culture of poverty gets super-imposed on an existing successful model. I think school districts can figure out who the good students are who care about learning and so I won’t come up with policies for admitting them. How is government determining who gets the housing vouchers?

  • It is interesting that the debate over housing gets tied to schools. Both are suffering from the same problem. When you pile all the low income people and kids in the same housing and schools, you get bad results. The community gets overrun with crime and the schools are overrun with all the problems at risk kids bring to school with them. Law enforcement gets overwhelmed with crime and the community gives up on trying to deal with it. Schools get overwhelmed with all the additional attention at risk kids need and parents give up on it. But when you end warehousing and mix low income people and their kids with middle to high income families, the outcomes are very different.

  • If you want to take Houstonia’s suggestion about where to go in GOOF (puhleeze! *eyeroll*) about dining, I do recommend Doyle’s, but it has recently closed for weekends, so make sure you go on a weekday. Tacos A Go Go is opening soon in the former Roznofsky’s, though, which is even closer to the bayou.

  • John Henneberger is wrong to suggest people in Houston aren’t begging for more high quality schools. I’ve seen them. I’ve begged myself. And I’ve also never seen people more grateful to get an overhauled school, than the parents I saw at Sharpstown International.
    The thing to understand is that school districts are beholden to the Federal Government and watchdog activists just like housing authorities are. It would be nice if HISD would spend its scarce resources to expand its high performing schools and attract more middle class parents whose kids will give them the high test scores they want. But if they then don’t put enough money into helping the low performers raise test scores, and ensuring that low performing schools get adequate funding – they could get in a lot of trouble.
    It’s a shame, really. I, personally, wish they could just invest more in magnets and high performing schools to attract middle class parents. I wouldn’t have had to leave Houston for the suburbs, but more to the point here: this is why HISD doesn’t just do the logical thing and expand Briargrove Elementary and its overflow to accept additional students from the Hillcroft project and the other new apartment complexes in the area.

  • @Commenter7. Damn dude you aren’t even sugar coating it here. None of the vague hand waving arguments about overcrowding or whatever. You’re just straight up saying that people in public housing will drag down the quality of the school because they don’t value education. Not even sure how to respond to this tbh. I guess I appreciate the honesty?

  • @MrEction – Have you ever spoken to a teacher? Let kids who stay out of trouble and do their homework transfer in to good schools. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Anyone who has escaped a project will tell you it’s about escaping a bad environment, not relocating the bad environment into a good area. Liberal guilt does not help poor people succeed.

  • Can anyone name an example of a truly “mixed income” area in Houston? The only “mixed” areas I see are those that are are in transition, either in decline or being gentrified. In these areas, the “mixed” condition only exists for a limited period of time. This was my experience growing up in Spring Branch in the 70s and 80s. The high and middle income people were moving away or dying off and lower income residents were becoming the majority.

  • @ Commenter7: Even if the implications of a policy may be skewed in terms of race, espousing a desire to segregate people by socioeconomic class is not the same thing as being a racist. I am not accusing you of that.
    Yes, of course there are non-white kids who keep it together and do alright for themselves! Everybody knows that, and also those kids take it upon themselves to escape crappy neighborhoods as soon as they can afford to, and that generates a kind of brain drain. Although geographic scales tend to vary, this pattern affects poor white neighborhoods and poor non-white neighborhoods alike. The folks that are left behind…yep, they and the children in their care are afflicted with a community-based problem. You are right about that much.
    What you are totally completely 100% wrong about, however, is that people from such a community are able to taint a community that DOES value education on a one-to-one proportional basis. There is a tipping point, yes, but you’ve got to tilt the demographics very far if you’re going to find it (and if you’re doing that then you’re courting a repeat of this year’s SCOTUS ruling by expensive and unpopular means by a different avenue, by creating a “low opportunity” neighborhood from scratch). Here’s the thing to remember: a community comprised of socioeconomic plurality is not a suitable medium within which to communicate the disease about which you express concern. Plurality itself is the cure.
    Now…I say that in conclusion of a great deal of research that I am leaving uncited. Please don’t dismiss this as merely some “liberal guilt”, whatever that means. I tend to approach things with a libertarian bent with a mindfulness that the best of government intentions tend to unravel into a mess over time; but also, I have to accept a political reality that is not ideal with a mind to making the best out of the situation. If you put me 100% in charge of crafting federal-level and state-level housing policy then you yourself would probably be very satisfied with what I would come up with. But that’s not going to happen, not to me, not to anybody. Electing a new president won’t result in that, regardless of their bombast or intelligence or political acumen. That’s not going to happen with the relevant agencies. That’s totally implausible and discussing it seriously is not worthwhile or productive.

  • I don’t see how a low income apartment next to a neighborhood is a community. That’s more like two communities. It seems like people are living in fantasy land when they argue that educational opportunities diminish when schools get bad. That’s the real reason Houston extends 50 miles out. There are lots of great neighborhoods within 30 miles of the city core but the schools keep getting bad anytime a good one sprouts up. When cinco ranch, woodlands, Katy etc schools go south – where do people move?

  • If school “quality” (however that is measured) is to be a metric for determining whether a particular location is a “neighborhood of opportunity”, then determining the “tipping point” for the maximum share of lower-income children attending any one school for retaining the children of middle class and affluent parents, vs. having them pull their children out of school or avoid moving to that particular school zone, is paramount. The Houston region has plentiful examples to be studied – not just Houston ISD but Pasadena, Alief, Spring Branch, Aldine, Fort Bend, Klein, and (most recently) Spring ISDs. Katy and Cy-Fair ISDs, as with Spring Branch and Houston ISDs before them, offer examples where the district is bifurcating as higher income parents choose specific school zones within the district in which live and send their children to public schools, based primarily on their perception of the demographics of the students and the perceived association of that factor with the ability of their own children to obtain a high quality education. As higher income parents leave that school zone, in most cases perceived school quality drops, sometimes precipitously.
    That said, Stratford HS would be an interesting case study, as it has maintained a wide spectrum of household incomes in its student body. I’ve heard that there is segregation within the school, however, as the bulk of higher income students supposedly track into accelerated / gifted classes and the lower income students into the “regular” classes. Given the freedom higher income parents have to choose their residential location and whether to send their child to public school, that may be the most straightforward solution that is feasible for now.

  • I want them to move a whole bunch of poor people into that neighborhood and make a reality show out of it. Two film crews, one following a poor family, the other following a rich family.

  • The neighborhood you grow up in has a far stronger correlation with future success than ones grades or school record. As such, sending the “educationally advanced” to magnet schools will not have nearly the same impact on their future as moving them to live in a better neighborhood zoned to a magnet school would. It’s more about the friends, connections and environment that you’re surrounded by and are exposed to that open you up to “higher opportunities”, not your grades.
    There needs to be a larger / more in-depth debate about socioeconomic integration though. The city and all of it’s residents would benefit with higher wealth and incomes if there was more economically diverse neighborhoods and if schools weren’t simply divided across whose parents chose a high-income career, middle-income career and whose didn’t. Kids should not be punished for the career paths and family/economic histories of their parents. That’s why doing something such as ZAW suggest (” I, personally, wish they could just invest more in magnets and high performing schools to attract middle class parents.”, and I know he meant this would good intentions to “turn around” bad neighborhoods) is not only un-american, it would curtail the cities future growth and jeopardize it’s future health by not ensuring an evenly skilled labor supply across the whole city.

  • @ Commenter7 & Local Planner & joel: The criteria that I have set out relates to the life outcomes of students that attend schools with certain characteristics. To test for that, you’d have to control for other relevant variables using a massive, robust, and longitudinal dataset and using multivariate regression. (This has been done recently, BTW. The New York Times carried it as a major story last year. Findings were that the most impoverished and also the very most elite neighborhoods appeared to have deleterious effects on kids raised in them. Not mentioned in the NYT article and hesitantly acknowledged on the researchers’ website was that any significant concentration of black children in a community draws down the entire community. They did not delineate a threshold. This finding did not apply to any other racial or ethnic group.)
    If you DO NOT follow that sort of methodology then yeah you will tend to find that communities have outsized effects because…socioeconomic segregation is a real thing with price often the limiting factor. The people that tend to be able to afford expensive real estate tend to either be intelligent or otherwise very capable human beings or they’re the offspring of such and their kids will inherit their genes and — surprise — be like them. Their kids will be successful, but not because of the communities they grew up in or the schools they attended. They will be successful on their own terms because they were genetically loaded for it. That’s not fair, but that seems mostly to be how it is and they will self-segregate into cliques and later into institutions and lifestyles — and also communities — that are mostly in accordance with their abilities and preferences. It is easy to mistake school performance or “quality” for good or bad effects, but that seems to only happen on the margins. For most people, to the extent that school “quality” is a top consideration, and they have paid more for it, that is an error in judgement. There are individual exceptions, such as a student that has found themselves a target for bullying or fallen in with a bad clique and that needs to reinvent their identity, or a student that is totally mismatched for the curricular offerings and peer groups in a school. There are the extreme margins where community really is the issue. But for most, school “quality” is a non-factor.

    @ joel: My instinct is to give some credit to the hypothesis that social contacts from childhood can influence life outcomes much later. I can think of a particularly bizarre example within a niche of Houston’s real estate community which involves middle-aged white men that attended Sugar Land HS in a very narrow window of time. But none of them (as far as they or I know) knew each other back then. Yes, opportunities come a little bit more easily to kids of wealthier families which have tended to geographically segregate themselves. But…is it causal insofar as their neighborhood is concerned? That seems dubious. You’ll have a better luck making the case for the “quality” of a university, but then you have to sort out admissions processes which are statistically very noisy places. There are many ways in which individuals segregate themselves, intentionally or otherwise, and all are influential upon motives and outcomes apart from ability.

  • @ Niche: I don’t disagree at all with anything you’ve said here. My only point is that more affluent and educated parents perceive (note that I deliberately choose the word “perceive”) that the “quality” of non-selective public schools (as opposed to magnets, charters or privates) is primarily dependent, at least for the general main of educational topics (as opposed to specific programming for an artistic ability, specific career field or cognitive condition) on the demographics of the student body. More importantly, there seems to be a strong and pervasive belief that their own child’s education and life prospects will be harmed if there is a significant share of lower income students in the school, no matter their own child’s academic abilities and proclivities. This is what leads to the decisions on whether to attend a particular school, and, in most cases, where to live (unless private or magnet school is a reasonable option).
    Now, apparently many studies have shown that, at non-selective schools, household income of students is closely related to academic performance as measured by test scores, post-high-school educational paths, etc. What I haven’t seen much evidence of is statistically valid demonstration that a significant presence of lower income kids actually damages the education and life prospects (and general happiness) of the higher income students – not that it isn’t necessarily true, I just personally haven’t seen the results of studies on that. But most more affluent parents seem to take it as given, because it results in the school and real estate decisions that I described previously. Otherwise, why not save money and commute time by living in a school zone with a higher share of lower income kids, especially if other factors (crime etc.) aren’t particularly problematic?

  • TheNiche, thanks for sharing and I was gonna type more but I gotta leave work. I definitely can’t get onboard with all of those hypothesis. I haven’t seen any studies that clearly show genetics to play a larger role in success than environment does. Additionally, what you mention from the NYT study about poor/rich neighborhoods having a large effect on it’s offspring would speak to that. And I won’t even touch this one with a 10-ft pole (“that any significant concentration of black children in a community draws down the entire community”) as there’s simply no way they could control for all variables to simply discern that any one racial group, regardless of income, would play such a large role in a neighborhood.
    Statistically, even higher performing middle class kids won’t reach the same wealth (I know, success in life has no relationship to wealth) as under-performing higher class kids. High performing lower class kids have even less statistical chance. Never underestimate just how big a safety net and of a boost your immediate familial standing provides. The professions and learned skills of your parents, of your friends parents, nearby leaders in civic/private organizations and such all help someone glean a better understanding of the job market, various professions and the intricacies of navigating such fields whether they realize it or not. It’s one thing to say you want to be an engineer. It’s entirely different to say you want to be a petroleum engineer and are familiar with the starting salaries, best schools to attend and general pathway to how one actually gets there.

  • Parents (or parent singular) raise kids and influence their child’s social development. Schools and environment do not raise kids although to some degree have some minor influences. I am tired of everyone being politically correct and blaming it only on social income, environment or a bad school district. What we need is an intervention program on parenting skills and laying the foundation for good old fashioned ownership by parent(s). So sick and tired of parents passing the responsibility of “parenting” on to schools and at same time blaming bad schools/teachers yet take away all tools and ability for schools to discipline and teach not only the basics but socialization skills as well. It’s ironic we now have programs and non-profits that teach young adults socialization skills, work ethics, behavior management, image projection and interviewing skills. Its unfortunate for these young adults all the time wasted and lost to the absence of good effective parenting and basic socialization.

  • Only in Houston, Texas is there a guy with some money who can buy buildings and preserve them and some snarky blogger who “doesn’t get” preservation trying to shame him.