Phoenix and New York City are separated by 2,500 miles, but the distance between them in terms of education innovation can only be measured in light years.
Last week, the Arizona Republic ran a story titled, “How school choice has reshaped Arizona,” looking at open enrollment policies, the number of charter schools, and education savings accounts, the most innovative education solution in the country. And don’t forget tax credit scholarships, virtual schools, and a homeschool law. With all these options for parents, “districts from the southwest valley to Paradise Valley have poured money into specialty programs that cater to niche interests in their communities” and “Arizona students can learn to speak Mandarin, study dance, become young engineers or delve into the medical sciences.”
Traditional schools, charter schools, and private schools try to attract parents and their children by out-doing one another through challenging programs. What an amazing place to live, where schools are watching where parents are going and trying to offer classes and programs that get their attention.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent in New York City, the New York Times ran a story titled “The Get-Into-School-Card,” referring to a family’s address. “Moving to a particular neighborhood in order to land a seat at a coveted public school has long been the middle-class modus operandi for obtaining a high-quality education in New York, where placement in many elementary schools is determined by home address.”
Unfortunately, New York families are finding out after they move that overcrowding in good schools is causing them to be re-zoned into boundaries for other schools. Parents wind up putting children on charter school waiting lists or resort to an “outright lie by borrowing an address from a friend or relative to get their children into a school.”
For parents looking for a great opportunity for their child, Arizona has told parents they have choices, and traditional districts are “inspire[d]…to improve options.”
In New York, parents without a good neighborhood school have to do it the old fashioned way: Move.
Goldwater Institute: School Choice Catalogue
Arizona Republic: How school choice has reshaped Arizona
New York Times: The Get-Into-School-Card