April 18, 2007
Education reformers have long argued that school choice is already widespread--among the well-to-do. Foes counter that choice programs are nothing but a "life raft" to save a few while letting the ship sink. Here's a new twist: St. Louis firefighters--union members all--are steamed that state law requires them to reside in the city of their employ. With its public schools in turmoil (see here), these men and women in uniform want a life raft of their own, namely the right to move to the suburbs and take advantage of their good public schools. "I'd be living out in Fenton and sending my kids to one of the best school districts in Missouri--and not paying for it," one of the firefighters explained. Fanning the flames is a 2005 decision allowing veteran police officers to escape from city to county schools. We're all for educational freedom, so give the firefighters what they want. But how unjust if the same state legislature that recently rejected school vouchers for the city's neediest families gives the green light to this form of school choice for city employees. What's good for the rescuers is also good for those who need rescuing.
"St. Louis firefighters are battling city schools," by Jake Wagman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 2007