Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I can't think of a witty title, but Rob sent this and it deals with Cleveland and schools

You are always affected by the region in which you live; believe you me, moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Morgantown, West Virginia hammered that one home. As such, since I'm in West Virginia, a decent amount of blog posts here on TPS (more in the past, but still somewhat true today) deal with West Virginia. As my TV gets Pittsburgh local channels, I can cover that as well. Justin covers the same ground as I do at the moment, though he will be moving to Bloomington, Indiana here in the near future, and I suspect he will comment on the unique happenings there.

But TPS readers can also thank loyalist Rob Holub for making this blog a place for Clevelanders (Clevelandites?), too. We're becoming a regional force. Watch out, Columbus!

Rob sent forth this piece about the Copley-Fairlawn School District in Ohio. In short, since the C-F schools are more highly regarded than their neighbors, parents have been using fake addresses to get their children into the district. This is nothing new-- but the solution to the problem is: Offer $100 to anyone to rat out an illegal member of the school. Only four people have taken the school's $100, though others have come forward and refused the reward. More still have preemptively left for fear of being caught. All in all, 45 students have left since September. I'm curious what the attrition rate was before the program began. This could be a very normal number. If it's not, the momentum from the program driving out students ahead of them being reported has to make the school district happy.

The most shocking part: Six students have decided to stay and pay the $7600 tuition. Wow. Is there that much of a shortage of private schools in Ohio? I guess 6 isn't a lot...but $7600?! For a public school?!

First off, public school choice would all but eliminate this problem. You could still have school district lines that couldn't be crossed, but if public school choice evolved, I could similarly imagine a cross-district move to be worked out as well. Especially since funding is largely at the state level.

Is there an arbitrage opportunity here? Probably not; there could be charges of perjury brought upon you, or you could be sued for back tuition. Otherwise, register away and split the reward money! Do it once a semester!

And would it kill the district to sit the kids down and explain to them that incentives work and make an economics lesson out of this?

Per the public school choice issue-- maybe we should start a list of unseemly behavior that could easily be cured by letting markets work. Public school choice cures district jumping. Allowing sports teams to auction tickets cures scalping. Any others?


Anonymous said...

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Justin M Ross said...

Yes it is "Clevelander." There is no shortage of private schools, nor charter schools in Ohio. Copley-Fairlawn has a very successful athletic program so they might be capturing some of those. I'm not surprised that a public school charging students tuition is very high because they are in many senses cost maximizing via bureaucracy models. There are more successful private schools in the Akron area both academically and athletically, but they are more expensive as well. $7600 might be a bargain for some.

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