The problems in one of the best American communities, Falls Church, VA

Newspaper editorials or commentary that discuss how wonderful a particular community is can be interesting. I recall one humorous article about Naperville from the early 2000s that defended the community for “wanting the best.”

This editorial about Church Falls, VA moves from the positives to things that still need to change:

With the release of data by the U.S. Census Bureau, it is now official. As we reported in last week’s edition, the City of Falls Church is officially Number One in the entire U.S. of A. in the categories of median household income, and percentage of the adult population with college and post-graduate degrees.

These statistics don’t lie, although some could argue that degrees in political science and sociology aren’t of the same gravitas as physics or biology. But still, given that it’s lawful that political majors are more prominent here, given our proximity to the nation’s capital where almost everyone works, the puzzle is all the more pronounced.

It’s this: How can the smartest, most politically savvy, best-off people in the nation turn out barely a quarter of its registered adult population to vote in local elections?…

Then there is the issue of affordable housing and a serious commitment to diversifying the community, economically and socially. Clearly, being “well off” financially does not correlate with generosity. This City’s leadership has permitted embarrassing repudiations of these principles, in practice, and no one seems to mind.

Of course, the school system in Falls Church is second to none, but not without a ferocious struggle by administrators, teachers and staff to maintain it in the face of recent years’ funding scale backs, and if that process continues, something is going to give fairly soon.

Even as the schools’ quality is above reproach, however, the issue of the well-being of the students in it, operating as they do under enormous pressure to perform at a high level in academics, athletics and everything else…

If that’s the case, then it may be that a lot of people in Falls Church should be reassessing their priorities in life.

From the outside, it looks like a town filled with self-indulgent people who care for nothing but their home values, on the one hand, and their kids’ SAT and other test scores, on the other. And this, ladies and gentlemen, this is the crème de la crème of America.

Several quick thoughts about this editorial:

1. This editorial comes off as fairly negative. Do the majority of Falls Church residents agree with this assessment about things that need to change? Or is this newspaper arguing for more than the community would be willing to tackle?

2. Is the concern over these issues the mark of a well-educated, wealthy community? If these are the primary concerns and things like a lack of jobs, bad schools, crime, high taxes, and stretched local budgets are not really an issue, then this community is indeed in good shape.

3. The quip that “political science and sociology aren’t of the same gravitas as physics or biology” is intriguing. What exactly do they mean? People take biologists and physicists more seriously? They are seen to be doing “real science” versus interpretation or commentary? They make more money and therefore deserve more respect? And this comes from a newspaper that admits that political science degrees are more prominent due to its location near Washington, D.C.

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