Are they ever fair or equitable? But is there a good alternative?
DC has never really invested equally (or equitably) in all schools across the city. Instead, city leaders have shifted the blame and responsibility to parents -- good schools exist, it's your job to get in them. Let's think about how we define school quality. If we define it in terms of resources, then it's certainly theoretically possible to provide similar resources across all schools (AP classes, number of science teachers, supplies in art room), right? This is a solvable problem that DC isn't willing to implement. If we define school quality in terms of proficiency rates (which are very strongly correlated with family resources), then we're saying the good schools are those that serve students from more privileged backgrounds, and the students themselves are the reason why the schools are of high quality. But if it's the students that make a school "good", serving more lower achieving students makes the school "worse", so how does that work to ensure equitable access to "good" schools? The fairest option would be to equally divide the high-achieving students across all schools in the city, but no one is advocating for that, even those that believe "good" school means the students served.
I would say put way more money into schools (and other services) in high poverty neighborhoods? All kinds of potential revenue raisers to get that additional money:
Former CM's Grosso's mansion tax idea
CM Parker's proposed pause on lowering commercial transaction tax
More investment in collecting $890m in unpaid traffic tickets from 2022
Land Value Tax!
More progressive RPP fee structure
I love the questions raised in this piece. I was surprised you didn't note that neighborhood schools are really good for the environment! What a joy it is to walk a kid to school in 5 minutes! It shouldn't be a privilege but a right for people living in cities.