Last year I met Dr. Bart Danielsen, the Founder of Environmentalists for Education Reform. What a brilliant concept! As a long-time environmental economist, and urban economist, I should have recognized the vital importance of the connection between at least the “school choice” part of the urgently needed transformational education reform and environmental impact, not to mention the very fiscal and economic sustainability of central cities. Family flight to the suburbs has been a disaster; tax base loss, loss of business/jobs, and environmentally. The latter disaster arises from the blight of property abandonment and infrastructure decay, loss of open space to suburban sprawl, and increased driving which means more pollution.
Once the connection fully sank in, I recalled that my The School Choice Wars discusses a 1990’s Denis Doyle paper that describes survey results that said “school choice” would have kept a lot of middle/upper income families from moving to the Baltimore suburbs. Nathan Gray and I discovered a similar phenomenon in Edgewood, west of downtown San Antonio, TX. School choice attracted families and business, and drove public school improvement.
Well, thankfully, Dr. Danielsen recognized the vital importance of the connection. He’s working hard to give it prominence through publication, networking, and the documentation of additional examples. Hopefully, this will significantly broaden the pro-transformation, pro-choice coalition.