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Do urban public schools provide a strong enough education?




A parent and child arrive to school on November 5, 2012 in the East Village neighborhood of New York, United States.
A parent and child arrive to school on November 5, 2012 in the East Village neighborhood of New York, United States.
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Parents in Southern California face a lot of choices when it comes to schools.

If they have the right admissions connections and about $30,000 a year to spend on tuition, there's the private school option. For families that can't afford that, there are several well-performing charter and magnet schools to consider, if your child can get in and you can make the commute work. 

And then there are the neighborhood public schools, which for the price and the convenience, can't be beat.

Many parents fret about low test scores, shrinking arts programs and the facilities themselves, many of which pale in comparison to private schools. They're left with a choice: Do they move to a suburb with better schools, but farther away from things they love about the city? Or do they take their chances with public school?

Michael Petrilli understands the dilemma all too well. He's the executive vice president of a DC think tank focused on education policy, and the father of two young boys. His new book is called the "Diverse School Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools."