Obama's America: 'Educational theft' on the rise

Actually, this sort of thing has been going on for years. It is not unknown that parents living in the inner city will use a relative's address to enroll their child in a better school.

But hiring investigators to tail a kid home to make sure he lives in the right district? Now that's Obama's America.

Wall Street Journal:

In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.

An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.

Ms. Williams-Bolar caught a break last month when Ohio Gov. John Kasich granted her clemency, reducing her charges to misdemeanors from felonies. His decision allows her to pursue her teacher's license, and it may provide hope to parents beyond the Buckeye State. In the last year, parents in Connecticut, Kentucky and Missouri have all been arrested-and await sentencing-for enrolling their children in better public schools outside of their districts.

These arrests represent two major forms of exasperation. First is that of parents whose children are zoned into failing public schools-they can't afford private schooling, they can't access school vouchers, and they haven't won or haven't even been able to enter a lottery for a better charter school. Then there's the exasperation of school officials finding it more and more difficult to deal with these boundary-hopping parents.

From California to Massachusetts, districts are hiring special investigators to follow children from school to their homes to determine their true residences and decide if they "belong" at high-achieving public schools. School districts in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all boasted recently about new address-verification programs designed to pull up their drawbridges and keep "illegal students" from entering their gates.

The argument that merit based enrollment should not be used for better schools because it will bunch all the failed and troublesome students into a few schools just doesn't wash anymore. Keeping a large percentage of kids who want to achieve, who have the desire to better themselves from doing so is cruel, capricious, and wrong headed. Desperate parents take desperate measures to see that their kids can compete. Instead of punishing them, they should be given medals.

Reform is needed but is being resisted by the usual suspects; teachers unions, school boards, and the education industry that believes kids left behind in a merit based system to attend inferior schools will suffer from low self esteem. It's the same nonsense that justifies moving kids into higher grades even though they aren't scholastically ready.

The answer to this problem is not arresting parents, treating them like common criminals because they want what's best for their kids. The answer is to change the system, reform the schools, allow vouchers, expand charter schools, and give parents greater control over the educational destiny of their kids.

Kids aren't failing in school as much as the schools are failing them.