The Unintended Consequences of School Choice

Diane Ravitch's blog

Harvard Magazine published an interesting article with fresh thinking about school choice. No blue-sky claims, like the Friedman Foundation. No fear-mingering. Some thoughtful comments about unintended consequences.

“A recent paper models a choice system that assigns schools according to families’ preferences, allotting seats at more sought-after schools by lottery. Parents would compete for access to the best schools, so that each school would not only reflect the socioeconomic mix of the community but also become perfectly equal—and average—in quality, Avery explains. But such a result, the model shows, would encourage wealthy families to abandon the system for better-than-average schools that are either private or in another district—a “flight” phenomenon widely documented already.

“Pathak and Avery also show a second mechanism—the effect of school quality on home prices—that forces flight not by wealthy families, but by the poor. “When you introduce school choice, school quality compresses…so the house-price distribution compresses as…

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