Local Commentary

Editorial: Best & the Brightest?

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?

We are at a loss, and nobody seems to have the answer. We used to argue that it was because the busy people who live here are, by not voting, providing a tacit vote of confidence for the existing town leadership. But with the difficulties that have plagued the City Council and City Hall in the wake of the recession, this cannot hold.

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. The documentary film, “Race to Nowhere,” presented by the George Mason High School PTSA last week at the school auditorium was a wake up call, at least for some, that wall-to-wall structured itineraries for teenagers day in, day out, can lead to unhappy results.
True, the median income number for Falls Church derives from a very high percentage of two-income households, from two college degree holders, and that creates pressures on time for involvement in local community issues.

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.