Single parent Kelly Williams-Bolar has just been released from jail after serving 9 days for her felony conviction for falsifying public records. The falsification consisted of her lying about her address, stating that she lived 2 miles from her actual home, to get her children into a better school district. Her conviction initially yielded a 5-year prison term, which the judge thankfully immediately reduced to 10 days, including time served. You can read more of the story here, but I want to highlight two statements from the article.
Dan Domenech, of the American Association of School Administrators: “The correlation between student achievement and zip code is 100 percent,” he says. “The quality of education you receive is entirely predictable based on where you live.”
Bob Dyer, who lives in Copley – the town Ms. Bolar claimed to reside in: “I pay a lot of money in property taxes, 53 percent of which go to the schools, and I want that money to go to people who live in the district.”
I understand, and sympathize, with both of these views.
I paid what I paid for my tiny little house so my children could be in one of the best school districts in the city in which I live.
But should this be so?
Is it right that the quality of education in schools governed by the state’s curriculum guidelines and granted the same amount of money per child (theoretically, at least) from the state treasury varies so widely from one district to another?
Is it right to state that I want the taxes I pay to benefit only the people who live in my district? Bob Dyer isn’t even claiming that he wants the money he pays in taxes to benefit his children directly, but the children in his district. I don’t know if he even has children. But does he live in an enclosed, isolated community; one in which he never encounters any hapless soul who was unlucky enough to be educated elsewhere? And if we are going to make this argument, can’t we make the argument that only people who have children should be paying the portion of their taxes which support schools? We ALL pay taxes to support schools because we recognize that having an educated populace is good for everyone — a socialist idea if there ever was one. Can we actually say that everyone should be educated, but only the children in our district deserve to be educated well?
I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m sure there isn’t an easy one. I know we are all “in it” for ourselves, that our ambitions and efforts and the discipline which we impose on ourselves to succeed comes from blatant self-interest and the desired preservation of the health and well-being of our friends and families. What I wish is that more people could recognize that what’s good for everyone IS what’s best for each of us.