2.10.19

I'M GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK FOR THE SELECTION EFFECTS.

Corey DeAngelis, an affiliate of Reason Foundation and Cato, asserts, "Yet another study shows school choice programs reduce crime."  Not just any studies, either: Harvard working paper, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Social Science Quarterly.  School assignment might be by lottery, but somebody has to sign the kids up for the lottery.

Read on and ponder.
Traditional public schools hold significant monopoly power because of residential assignment and funding through property taxes. Families upset with the quality of their public school only have three limited options: They can purchase an expensive new house that is assigned to a better public school, pay for a private school out of pocket while still paying for the public school through property taxes, or complain to the school leaders and hope things change.

Because these options are expensive and inefficient, there is not a lot of pressure for residentially-assigned public schools to provide the best character education possible. In contrast, private and charter schools must cater to the needs of families if they wish to remain open.

School choice puts power into the hands of families. And families usually know what’s best for their own kids.
The selection effect is particularly salient given that compound noun, "character education."  Residentially-assigned public schools in prosperous neighborhoods, which is to say where your good school comes bundled with a granite countertop, tend to be public schools where bourgeois norms are honored in the observance, no matter how woke the residents might pretend to be.  Thus, the people who have the means to buy the bundle tend to be people who insist on their common schools doing a proper job.  (Put another way, the expensive house buys the equivalent of a high-status private school with school leaders accountable to the constituents.)

That's where that "families usually know what's best" matters.  The sentence presupposes some semblance of a family: not necessarily the case in the poorer quarters where serial shacking up might be the way people exist, and frequent moves might accompany the domestic turmoil.

That makes comparing like-with-like in school districts offering charter schools harder.  "School choice could also reduce crime by matching students to schools that interest them, and by exposing students to peer groups and school cultures that discourage risky behaviors." What we might be seeing is that the parents most interested in passing along responsible habits to their children are reinforcing those habits in their children and doing what they can, including signing up for the charter schools, to obtain institutional support, including in the form of classmates to interact with.

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