The Education Monopoly Strengthened

More proof today that New Mexico’s education system is moving (running?) in the wrong direction. As many states and communities around the country are contemplating education reform which would break the public school system’s monopoly on education, we in New Mexico are talking about strengthening that monopoly.
This morning’s Albuquerque Journal reports (subscription required) that six Albuquerque schools are going to start requiring that parents produce four proof-of-residency documents in order to enroll their students. Apparently, there is a concern that these schools are overcrowded. Many suspect that there are students going to these schools who—gasp!—don’t live in the district!
James Monroe Middle School principal Vernon Martinez said that his school is even considering home check-ups to verify residency.
This is very sad.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a day when providers of education are subject to the same level of competition as grocery stores? Wouldn’t it be great to see a day when schools are no longer assigned their customers but actually have to work for them like any other business? I hope that some day every public school in the state will compete with every other public AND private school for the privilege of educating our youth. Economics would predict and empirical evidence has shown that when schools do compete, education standards improve.
When I was in grade school I was lucky enough to have an industrious mother. She and an equally-industrious mother of my good friend worked diligently to navigate the red-tape and get us transferred to Jefferson Middle School. I feel that the education I got there was far superior to what I would have received in my home-district school (which shall remain anonymous). Every year our mothers hunted down the obscure forms and applied for a transfer. My friend and I came from a privileged background. We had parents who could afford to spend the time to figure out how to get around the red-tape. Unfortunately, most in New Mexico are not so lucky. Most are forced to accept the school to which they are assigned. Now it looks like even more students will have to accept mediocrity.

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