31.10.07

CREATING DROPOUT FACTORIES. The tussle over school vouchers continues.
Actually, this makes me think that a lot of the opposition to vouchers is about that affluent suburbanite's need to maintain the delusion that they care about inner city public schools. Memo to suburban voucher opponents who "support public education": you're already sending your kid to private school. You're just confused because your tuition fees came bundled with granite countertops and hardwood floors.
That reminds me of McCormick, Shughart, and Tollison's 1984 "The Disinterest in Deregulation," wherein the rents are concentrated and the welfare gains small and costly to collect. And yes, genuine competition among school districts is likely to bring in its train some capital losses to current homeowners whose mortgages include that test-score premium in the house price. But it doesn't have to be those upscale accessories. Take Milwaukee Hamilton, onetime flagship of the public system, now borderline dropout factory. More than a few parents, including my own. purchased new houses in that area in anticipation of having a new high school when their kids came of age. More than a few of those kids, based on the (admittedly unscientific) observations I've been able to make, have purchased houses in nearby suburbs that, while pleasant, aren't in the granite countertop class. But yes, we do have school choice in the United States. It comes under the rubric of residential location, with the attendant self-selection tradeoffs.

There's a differing perspective on the voucher argument, with more than spirited bull sessions in progress.

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