Where I take issue with Yglesias is his suggested remedy. In what he calls a "zoning-free Yglesiastopia," no weight would be given to local residency in school enrollment. Yglesiastopia must be a place with infinite resources, one in which the good schools are large enough for all, and where no allocation process whatsoever—financial, racial, ethnic, linguistic, or residential—need be implemented. Let students flock to the quality schools and the problems in our educational system will disappear. Hail Yglesiastopia!In reference to Yglesiastopia, he cites a snippet by Matt Yglesias, Slate's perennially naive economics blogger, who at least has an intellectually honest observation that good public schools with an extremely high private barrier to entry (an expensive home districted with that good public school) are effectively private institutions. Don't mistake that for giving Yglesias any credit for his position. He probably just doesn't have any kids eligible for K12 education yet. I fully expect his position to "evolve" when that happens.
The Atlantic writer, Theodore Ross, has an incredibly selfish motivation for deriding Yglesiastopia. In the status quo, his child is guaranteed a spot in the good public school within his residential district. How would he support a system in which his kids would have to mix in with the poor kids from the wrong side of the tracks?
The busing and desegregation of the 1970s, by most accounts, worked, and could again in this situation, by placing students from poor neighborhoods into my son's school. I would welcome that, assuming a place for my son remained. That's the part I shouldn't be asked to give up—a good education for my children.Yes, he's all for reforming the system and making it more equitable provided that his interests are not hampered in any way whatsoever.
I have no idea who Theodore Ross is, but I bet he's another "progressive" writer (just about every writer on The Atlantic is, this is not a huge leap of faith to make) unwittingly revealing that he and people of his ilk are just as nakedly self interested as the billionaire Republican caricatures that they love to deride.
Until we, as a society, get buy-in from people like Theodore Ross (who, for better or worse, mostly worse, is part of the opinion-shaping media) for education reforms with real teeth (vouchers, breaking collective bargaining for teachers, decoupling local property taxes from education funding), we will never see a national system that delivers the real goal of progressives: an excellent education for children of every socioeconomic background.
Oh, and one final tidbit:
And Yglesiastopia doesn't address that root problem—why there isn't high-quality education in poor neighborhoods.So really, Ross' endgame is pretty simple. Separate but equal. Keep the poor kids on their side of the tracks and away from his, just as long as they get a "good" public school. The worst kind of selfish person is the person who doesn't realize they're selfish. This is an example of that kind of person.