A recent column by Heather Wilhelm highlights a huge issue in America: In order to get into a good public school, you often have to spend more on a home. Heck, brokerages have developed search tools to help you focus on the school attendance areas you want, weeding out perfectly good homes that have imperfect schools.
Wilhelm, a political columnist in Austin, dissects the intersection between public education and real estate in her recent Dallas Morning News Op-Ed, “Public Schools — The Craziest Government Program of Them All.” For the most prescient example, look at HPISD and the Lakewood Elementary attendance area.
Read on for more.
With so many oddities in our current system, it’s hard to know where to start. Across America, arbitrary school district lines radically distort real estate markets. Anyone who has house-shopped in the U.S. knows one sad truth: Better school districts command a premium. (The other truth is that you probably won’t like the kitchen.) Despite lofty government rhetoric regarding free and equal public education, the fact remains that better-off families can buy their way into better schools.
It gets crazier, because despite this disparity, public school funding doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. The average American public school spends $11,455 per pupil, and that’s just the average: Washington, D.C., home of legendarily horrible schools — among eighth-graders, 17 percent are proficient in reading and 19 percent proficient in math — spends upwards of $18,000 per student. That’s from the U.S. Census Bureau; the Cato Institute estimates that D.C. might actually spend $25,000 per pupil. Nationally, inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has tripled since 1970. Test scores have been flat.
I also find it interesting that, per pupil, private schools spend far less than your average public campus. It’s fascinating. Read the whole thing and then tell us: Are arbitrary boundaries causing pockets of poverty and wealth and distorting home values?