Affordable Private Education and the Middle Class City
22 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2009 Last revised: 22 Mar 2010
Date Written: 2010
This Essay, which was prepared for a University of Chicago Law School’s symposium on “Rethinking the Local Government Toolkit,” argues that affordable private schools serve an important urban-development function: They partially unbundle the residential and educational decisions of families with children. Thus, state and local officials hoping to make our make central city neighborhoods attractive places to raise children should consider employing a familiar urban development tool - tax incentives - to make quality private schools more financially accessible to middle-income families. The Essay proceeds in three parts. Part I builds the case for a middle class city. Part II demonstrates the centrality of quality educational options, including affordable private schools, to the goal of building a middle class city. Finally, Part III suggests a use of tax policy to help make private schools accessible for those of modest means. Specifically, the Essay proposes that either state or city governments grant tax credits for charitable donations to nonprofit organizations that award scholarships to children attending private elementary and secondary schools. Seven states already have such “scholarship tax credit” programs in place, which could either be replicated in other states or adapted to the local government setting.
Keywords: local government, private school, education, central city neighborhoods, middle class
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation