Free Minds & Free Markets

The Environmental Case for School Choice

Allowing parents to stay in cities can help families and alleviate traffic congestion.

Among the main reasons families with young children move out of cities and into suburbs is that urban areas often have terrible schools. Cities lose people and working parents face long commutes back into downtown. There's a cost to the environment too as more infrastructure has to be built to serve people over larger areas.

"There's a tremendous amount of money spent on infrastructure just to get people from where they live to where they work, "says Bartley Danielsen, founder and president of Environmentalists for Education Reform and associate professor of business management at the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management. "If people could live near where they work, then their lives would be better and the lives of people in cities would be better."

To reverse the flight to the suburbs, Danielsen argues, cities must convince parents to stay downtown by providing more school choice and educational alternatives.

Danielsen recently sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss the environmental benefits of school choice and its potential to revitalize American cities.

About 5:30 minutes.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Joshua Swain. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Alexis Garcia.

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  • Christophe||

    The 5-9 year olds vs 0-4 year olds metric is really clever.

  • Inigo "Chip" DuBois||

    There has to be more reasons to live in a city than simply avoiding a long commute. For me, it came down to a choice between suburban outings (cinema, dinner at a chain restaurant, shopping at the mall) and outings in a city (cinema, concerts of virtually any kind of music you want, art galleries, museums, dinner at any one of hundreds of good restaurants, shopping in 50x as many stores as the suburban mall, etc.). If that doesn't make the choice easy, then a city probably isn't your cup of tea in the first place.

  • TSowell Fan||

    This is a caricature of both the suburbs and the city center. Nothing but chain restaurants in the suburbs, eh? Umm, no.

    And, what does a long commute -- a daily burden -- have to do with travelling into the city to visit an art gallery, museum, concert or restaurant -- an occasional treat?

    50x more stores in every city than in any suburban mall? Umm, no. What does that even mean? 50x more store square footage per capita or 50x more types of stores or 50x more stores of any given type or ...?

  • fuckyougotmine||

    And, hey, if "school choice" destroys public education -- well, that's just a feature, ain't it?

  • Will4Freedom||

    I don't understand your assertion. If the desire of a parent is to get the best education they can afford for their children... does it really matter who provides it? Why does it "HAVE" to be the government?

    You have options in package delivery, don't you? Does that "destroy" the US Post office?

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  • TSowell Fan||

    "Among the main reasons families with young children move out of cities and into suburbs is that urban areas often have terrible schools."

    Would that be among 3, 15 or 32 main reasons? In what percentage of cases is it among the top 5 main reasons? In what percentage of cases is it the main reason?

  • the_strickler||

    I've been saying this for years. People choose the best neighborhood nearest work. Everyone defines best in their own terms, but if the schools suck, crime is bad, real estate is expensive, and taxes are high, then you end up going somewhere else assuming you can afford it.

    It's about time that cities improve quality of life and become attractive places to live or just admit that they are the problem. It is not the suburb's fault. People don't move to the suburbs because they love traffic.

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