The Good Schools Property Value Bubble?

The first of an ongoing series about the ‘future foundation’ of our land-use patterns…

The spread of charter and magnet schools, online education and personalized albeit remote tutoring capacity has left me thinking: ‘what happens to land value premiums assigned to ‘good school districts’ if ‘the ‘spatial relationship’ that most home-buyers account for no longer matters as much?

When successful charter and magnet schools widen availability to counties at large or even metropolitan areas (multiple counties), what will that do for families who have bargained away income security for a home in the better school districts? This was always a high-risk, high-reward choice, one Dr. Dan Abbott rightly uses to enrich Elizabeth Warren’s (in)famous “two-income trap” theory.

Dr. Abbott:

The bidding war for good schools, along with the breakdown of widespread sexual discrimination, encourages both men and women to work, and use the excess income to buy housing near a good school. This means that if the husband loses work for whatever reason, the wife cannot temporarily increase the family’s income by taking additional part-time work. Further, in the event of a medical emergency in the family, the wife cannot act as a “free” caregiver. In both cases, America’s two-earner encouraged by our bad schools increases the financial risks of families, and thus increases domestic violence, divorce, and economic ruin.

I am not claiming that the current model prevalent from the metropolitan areas of Boston, Chicago, Dallas, etc., will suddenly halt overnight, leaving wealthier families who bought homes in the best school districts on the outside looking in as poor kids come streaming into formerly exclusive or nearly-exclusive schools.

However, the charter school movement may yet move beyond its current restraints and experience a string of tangible, lasting successes. Magnet schools will proliferate further, as will vocational schools such as those in FL incubating the industry-specific educations of fledgling medical professionals.

Besides, I can see a storm on the horizon that threatens to gore many sacred cows, including that of public education’s unique claim on public resources re: property taxes, about which I will have more detailed thoughts forthcoming.


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