New Rochelle Dropped in Bogus BusinessWeek List of "Best Places to Raise Your Kids"

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New Rochelle Dropped in Bogus BusinessWeek List of "Best Places to Raise Your Kids"

November 23, 2009 - 17:09

New Rochelle has been dropped from BusinessWeek list of Best Places to Raise Your Kids* 2010 list. The school district has repeatedly cited the BusinessWeek article to claim that New Rochelle is one of the best places to raise your kids in the United States.

So what does this mean for New Rochelle?

Not much, the entire premise for the BusinessWeek list is about as solid as the financial footing of the magazine itself which was recently sold to Bloomberg for a pittance by McGraw-Hill due to declining circulation and ad revenues where a magazine that covers business by the week has found little demand in a world of 24/7 news coverage and round-the-clock trading in global markets.

The "best places to raise children" list exists solely due to its ability to drive interest in the magazine among the places listed in the magazine and the controversy their questionable methodology elicits.

New Rochelle school officials, who have always placed PR value over actual results love the BusinessWeek list about as much as they despise a more respected Newsweek list which evaluates school performance based on the amount and level of Advance Placement testing. The school board vote to "not participate" in the annual Newsweek survey for the first time ever after New Rochelle dropped precipitously over the past two years (Newsweek obtained the data anyway and New Rochelle fell again in the Newsweek rankings).

These same officials routinely fail to mention is that after receiving criticism for past lists which consisted primarily of smaller, affluent, predominantly white suburban school districts, the editors at BusinessWeek altered the criteria. First, to create more "winners" they named a winner for each of the 50 states (and two runners up) and to eliminate towns like Scarsdale and Bronxville, they limited the "competition" to towns with at least 50,000 residents (that cut off was lowered to 45,000 this year which serves to highlight how they tweak their criteria to achieve a desired outcome), and require median family income between $40,000 and $100,00 (the Census Bureau tracks "Median household income" which includes homes with no children so this is another way to manipulate the date).

So, just how many "towns" are there that meet this criteria?

For starters, let's remove 49 states from consideration and look only at New York which has 62 counties, which are subdivided into 932 towns, 62 cities, and 9 Indian reservations. All residents of New York who do not live in a city or on an Indian reservation live in a town. When you shake this all out, based on the 2000 census, there are 21 towns and 12 cities that have a population over 50,000 for a total of 33 municipalities that qualify.

The BusinessWeek article says that they only consider "towns" which would seem to eliminate the 12 cities except that New Rochelle is one of those 12 cities so the criteria is already being ignored to include New Rochelle. I could not find any readily available census data by "town" so I will confine myself to the 12 cities above 50,000 which are as follows: New York City (8,274,527), Buffalo (292,648), Rochester (208,123), Yonker (196,086), Syracuse (147,306), Albany (95,658), New Rochelle (72,182), Mount Vernon (68,321), Schenectady (61,821), Utica (60,651), Niagara Falls (55,593), White Plains (53,077).

Of these, just four cities have a median household income of between $40,000 and $100,000: White Plains ($58,545), New Rochelle ($55,513), Yonkers ($44,663), Mount Vernon ($41,128).

From these four, BusinessWeek then narrows the list based on "school performance; number of schools; household expenditures; crime rates; air quality; job growth; family income; museums, parks, theaters, and other amenities; and diversity. We weighted school performance and safety most heavily, but also gave strong weight to amenities and affordability."

All four of these cities are near New York City so will score the same on criteria such as "museums, parks, theaters, and other amenities" and "air quality". Yonkers and Mount Vernon are knocked out due to their relatively high crime rate leaving this a battle of New Rochelle v. White Plains.

If someone can find me the data for "towns" over 50,000 I will look at the data but I do not believe it will change the sample size much.

This is all very similar to the language of the Senate version of the health care bill which spends a great deal of time describing states that qualify for a special allocation of $100,000,000. When you actually cut through the verbiage you find there is only state which qualifies: Louisiana. It just so happens that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is currently a "no" vote on the Senate bill but was convinced to allow debate on the bill after the language was added.

As it applies to BusinessWeek, the magazine created a filter out of which only two cities could qualify and then picked one of the two. It should have been obvious to anyone familiar with New York that the combination of a population over 50,000 and a median income over $40,000 would narrow the field considerable when you consider the vast differences in cost of living for the area around New York City and "upstate" New York. No surprise that of the four cities that made the first cut, all of them were in Westchester, on the border with New York City.

In the 2010 list you can see how the magazine tweaked the filter so that municipalities near New York City were eliminated from consideration. The result? This year's winners are all suburbs in the Great Lakes region around Niagara Falls (Buffalo and Rochester).

There are 4 Comments

This is dirty reporting at its best. Its a mixture of your personal opinions and fact and word manipulation, just so you can put out yet another hostile and negative piece about the city. You are criticizing Business Week and its process for determining such lists, then you critique why the city is on the list and whether it really should be (even though you make it clear that it doesnt matter), then you criticize the city for its response to being on the list.

Is it the preoccupation that Americans have with such lists that is what you are trying to get at??? Then it makes to critique the magazie, the rankings process and how people respond.

Still, the last thing that you should feel entitled to do is criticize the ways inn which the city responded to its selection and ranking on the list. Their actions are not unlike those of any other 'winning' community. And what about colleges that get ranked on their list of best schools? You dont think that selected schools use it in all their public relations related materials? That is what they do!!

And whats up with your choice of a headline? just because you find the list to be 'bogus' does not mean iit is. If intended to word it as you did, with New Rochelle as the subject, that has been "dropped" from the list, then your intent was to create a false headline??

Some issues covered on this site are interesting and important but you fill it with too much one-sided, often unverifiable, crap. I dont know about you but I actually enjoy living in new rochelle. . . and so do my neighbors, friends and colleagues who also reside here. It is also the popular consensus that this website is less concerned with reporting the news than it is on creating divisiveness and alienating individuals from one another.

Robert Cox's picture

You are welcome to write "positive" uplifting unifying stories on this site.

Instead, you spend the time it would take to write such an article to take issue with my article. You are free to do both so your choice is revealing.

This site is not going away so you might want to reconsider your strategy here. If you were really serious about your supposed concerns you could ignore MY articles and simply post your own. If you are so enamored with life in New Rochelle then pick a topic -- a restaurant you like, a favorite neighborhood, some historical tidbit -- and write about it. As far as I can see you and a few likeminded individuals are less interested in make this sort of effort and more interested in trying to tell me what I am allowed to think and write.

BTW, the reason the BusinessWeek list is bogus is because the filter they used, at least for New York, limited the choices last year to TWO places out of the entire State of New York. This year they made a few changes which limited the list to know more than 21 but effectively eliminated places near New York City (due to the higher cost of living) which means last year the only choices were in Westchester County and this year those same places were filtered out of the final analysis. In my view the criteria used are manipulated to get desired outcomes. Last year they wanted to eliminate affluent, white communities and this year, for New York, they wanted to eliminate place in the New York City suburbs. Thus the results are largely pre-cooked.

I would like to see a report on how families with a median income of $55,513 can afford a house at the median price of $700,000.00.

Robert Cox's picture

great question..