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Update: Rethinking The NYT Ethicist's "Breezy" Public School Cop-Out

As you may have seen, the NYT's ethicist recently told some Bay Area parents that they were not ethically obliged to send their little kid to the local school that seemed safe but had low test scores:

"There’s no recognizably human world where parents treat their own children the same as everyone else’s. This doesn’t license lack of concern for those other kids, and you’re right to worry that your dysfunctional neighborhood school is failing those it serves. But you can do something about that — through involvement in local and state politics, for example — without sacrificing your son. And what you owe is not heroic commitment, ‘‘turning the school around’’ by your own efforts. You owe only your fair share of the duties of an engaged local citizen."

But, over at The Billfold, a Hartford public defender named Josh Michtom took issue with that advice, suggesting that the NYT ethicist had blown the answer. His piece, If You Don’t At Least Try Your Local School, You May Be Part Of The Problem, says that, "To say, simply, “Don’t worry about it” is the wrong answer, and it is a pernicious wrong answer. It is the answer that tells people with both the resources and (theoretically) the philosophical disposition to fight segregation on a voluntary basis that they needn’t bother. It’s a cop-out, and if this topic is to be resolved with a cop-out, it deserves a soul-searching, garment-rending, morosely guilty cop-out."




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