If Middle Class Kids Left …

One knock on school choice is that if the children of the middle-class left for private schools, the public schools would go to hell in a handbasket. That’s the argument put forth by “Todd” in the discussion forum of this Lawrence Journal-World story.

It is true enough that poor families aren’t served well, especially if they live in urban districts where poor families live in large numbers. There are doubtless many reasons for that, but here’s one that does not get enough notice: the poor are, by virtue of being poor, less likely to move to another district or send their kids to private schools. Why? Lack of funds.

In districts with a wealthier population, by contrast, parents who are dissatisfied with the district performance can leave–and staff and administrators know it.

So back to the question of whether districts with a lot of poor people would inprove if a voucher system was in place. Most likely. Some middle-class parents would take their children to other schools. But so would low-income parents. For the first time, they could make a fiscal impact on the district by yanking out their children.

And there’s nothing like the threat of lost revenue to get somebody’s attention.

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