An African-American mom spent nine days in jail and was released last week for falsifying her address to get into a better school district. The 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar now has a felony conviction for lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to terrible Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.
A Washington Post columnist, Kevin Huffman, wants to know what does it say when parents’ options are so limited they are willing to commit a felony to avoid terrible public schools.
“In this country, if you are middle or upper class, you have school choice. You can, and probably do, choose your home based on the quality of local schools. Or you can opt out of the system by scraping together the funds for a parochial school.”
“But if you are poor, you’re out of luck, subject to the generally anti-choice bureaucracy. Hoping to win the lottery into an open enrollment “choice” school in your district? Good luck. How about a high-performing charter school? Sure – if your state doesn’t limit their numbers and funding like most states do. And vouchers? Hiss! You just touched a political third rail.”
“Williams-Bolar lived in subsidized housing and was trapped in a failed system. In a Kafkaesque twist, she was taking college-level courses to become a teacher herself – a dream she now will never realize as a convicted felon. It’s America’s version of the hungry man stealing bread to feed his family, only to have his hand cut off as punishment.” …
“As Dan Domenech of the American Association of School Administrators told NPR last week, ‘The correlation between student achievement and Zip code is 100 percent. The quality of education you receive is entirely predictable based on where you live.’ And where you live in America today depends largely on income and race.”
I have a friend with kids in one of the best City of Atlanta schools and she says people make up fake addresses all the time to be in her school. (She says they often give the address of the Kroger shopping center down the street.)
I know many would say well buy in a better neighborhood to get a better education for your child? But what if you can’t afford to buy a house in the better public school neighborhood?
They are public schools shouldn’t everyone get the same education from them? But we know now that isn’t the case.
Now in some states, you can apply to go to any school as long as they have openings. Would that solve this inequality? Should more states do this? What effect would it have on the schools? On the property values? On the families there? Would exposing those kids to kids that can’t afford to live in their neighborhood be good? Would it be too hard for the kids with fewer resources?
What choices do parents have to get their kids a better education if they don’t have money to move to a better district or send them to a private school? What would you do?