As long-time readers of this column know, I support parental choice, even though I’ve repeatedly stressed its shortcomings. The latest evidence is seen in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest (“LAUSD guide: How to get into a magnet school or specialized programs in Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 5).
Although every K-12 student is guaranteed a seat in a school within their attendance zone, parents who are unhappy with that particular school must jump through a series of hoops requiring the skills of a Philadelphia lawyer. There are deadlines, applications and rules that are complex enough to frustrate most parents. As a result, many parents simply give up and enroll their children in a private or religious school.
In an ideal world, of course, every neighborhood school would be so good that few, if any, parents would look elsewhere. But that is never going to happen. In fact, I don’t think that public education in this country will be recognizable a decade from now. We’re already seeing evidence of that in the form of tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and vouchers. Blaine amendments are being challenged in court, with the likely result that public dollars will be legally spent at religious schools.
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