Thursday, March 25, 2004

Schools, Courts and Cities

America's schools have been in decline for too many years. If not our worst social problem, surely a contender. All sorts of causes and many reforms and remedies have been proposed over the years. Most of what has been attempted has failed. The least credible of these, from the education establishment and their allies, has been "spend more money". Being an adjunct of politics, this approach is usually tried first. An earlier post alluded the to the evidence accumulated by researchers that puts the popular prescription into doubt.

Heather MacDonald reviews two recent books that highlight a problem that every parent (even politicians with kids) understands: too many public schools are unsafe. There is no way that kids can learn. What has changed? The law and the extension of new rights and privileges to children. Civil rights lawyers and judges typically presume that they are on the side of the angels but, according to the books reviewed, have done far more harm than good.

Those worried about "urban sprawl" might want to imagine how our cities would look if escaping bad schools were not a family priority in so many places.