Monday, August 31, 2009

Dumb Luck

D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty is embroiled in a minor controversy regarding where his kids are attending school. According to the Washington Post:
Fenty (D) has repeatedly declined to discuss how he enrolled his children at Lafayette, one of the District's most coveted elementary schools, rather than West Elementary, his neighborhood school.
It seems many parents also try to get their children into other schools:
About half of all D.C. public school students attend a school outside their neighborhood. Parents seeking an out-of-boundary school enter a lottery in which they can pursue spots at up to five schools.
The controversy centers on whether or not any rules were broken getting his kids into the other school. Frankly, it doesn't matter. What matters is that children of caring parents want to get their kids out of failing schools and into better ones. The mayor may or may not have received special treatment (chances are good he did), but the fact that waiting lists exist means that some people who want to attend better schools are trapped in failing schools. This is the tragedy that results from a monpolized public school system. In a market for education no one would be trapped in any failing school. Those schools would go out of business because caring parents would send their kids elsewhere.

What if the Mayor were unlucky (assuming no favored treatment) and his kids weren't selected? Do you think he would have sent his kids to a failing school because he didn't win the lottery? Of course not, he has money and he would have used it. Getting a good education schouldn't be a matter of luck. School choice is what people with means already have, how about that for the rest of us.


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