Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Enrollment fraud reminds us that many public schools aren't public

Sign at a middle school in prosperous north Edmond, Okla.

"Enrollment fraud is an example of where the reality of public schooling conflicts with the rhetoric of public schooling," Mike McShane writes.
No, great public schools aren’t always open to all comers. Public schools can, and do, act to exacerbate inequality. School choice is not something that only occurs when a state allows for charter schools or starts a voucher program.

In fact, the debate around school choice in this country would vastly improve if all of us were simply more honest about the de facto school choice programs that already exist in our communities. Rather than acting like a state “gets” school choice the day that a charter school law is passed, we would recognize that many Americans, from suburbanites to posh urbanites ensconced in exclusive attendance zone enclaves, exercise school choice. The fact that people want to choose a school increases the value of homes within its attendance zone. That premium keeps poor children out of that school. It functions like tuition, making a public school a private one. And this doesn't even touch those for whom attendance zones don't apply because they are politically connected, which is a worrisome feature of the educational landscape as well.

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