June 7, 2020

A choice of schools for everyone but us?


You learn a lot by watching commercial television.

For instance, I’ve tried many times to point out that people who argue against “choice” for parents selecting schools conveniently fail to acknowledge how they benefit from choice themselves. Now, thanks to the gods of industry, those who cater relentlessly to what people really want rather than what they say they want, we have an picture of what school choice actually looks like.

In this heartwarming advertisement for Zillow, a real estate and lifestyle website, a military wife and her soldier husband talk via internet about their housing search. She’s emailed him the listing for a charming little home in the $245k range.

“So what did you think of the house,” she asks.

“It’s got a great kitchen, but did you see the school rating?” he replies.

Flash to the website: We see that Zillow has conveniently listed nearby schools, color coded them (red bad, green good), and, unfortunately, the ratings are low.

Time to choose a different address, one that will provide a precious leg up.

The couple continues to search until their diligence pays off in the form of a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 3,052 square foot house next to a park and presumably within distance to a school with acceptable ratings.

A “sold” sign shows ¬†they have purchased it. Mother inserts the key so she and her daughter can enter their empty house. Except, it isn’t really empty. The soldier husband stands there with flowers awaiting a tender hug.

Cue the mist in eyes.

In the end a kindly narrator says¬†“you’re not just looking for a house, you’re looking for a place for your life to happen.”

It’s an insightful summary of the home buying decision.

Families with children equally as precious as this family’s child are seeking a way to select and deselect schools to the advantage of their kids. Given the wave of foreclosures that have savaged so many families, Zillow won’t be helpful in their search for great schools.

They need school choices where a mortgage and down payment are not the cost of admission.

They’re not just looking for a school. Their looking for a place where education can happen.

Again, misty eyes.


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