Monday, March 24, 2008

Competition for Public Schools

Why would any parent drive their kid across the bridge through heavy traffic every morning just to go to one public school over another?  Seattle Times finds a bunch of people who gladly do that so they can get their kids into Mercer Island's supposedly relatively good schools.

The prospect of one district actively competing with another for students and the accompanying state funds strikes some school administrators as wrong. Edmonds Superintendent Nick Brossoit said he "wouldn't want to be a part of" a plan that used public money to market one district at the expense of another.

Funny how some people dismiss competition for schools as somehow "wrong".  What would happen if we "wouldn't want to be part of" a plan to market one grocery store over another, or for that matter one political candidate over another?  On the flip side, what if every school district had to compete heavily for each kid who enrolls?  Do you think schools would perform better or worse?

I'm actually not a huge fan of open enrollment, at least not unless I can carefully control which kids get in and which don't.  But at some level the best way to measure a school -- better than WASL scores, better than graduation rates -- is by seeing what happens when parents and kids actually have a choice on which one they attend. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hard to argue against competition!

That article you reference about "relatively good schools" relies heavily on how many AP courses/tests are taken. Beware that such a figure is able to be manipulated by a district (for example, by encouraging/forcing all kids to take (multiple) AP cources/tests regardless of interest, ability, etc.)