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The incredible shrinking classroom

Because of endemic social injustice in the left's "Amerika," I was never able to enroll for free at the Harvard Business School. I was still able, out there on the mean streets, to learn the basics of economic Darwinism: the customer is always right and maximize your customer base.

One of the basics, interestingly enough, came from little Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., in the early 1970s, when the administrators-faced with a per-student deficit they deemed unfixable by adding more students-decided to seek fiscal balance by reducing enrollment instead.

More typically, loss of market share (a little HBS lingo, there) is cause for management distress, review of policy, output quality and pricing, and hopefully, a successful reversal.

Recently, Caroline Hoxby of Harvard ran studies showing that public schools subjected-oh, the inhumanity of it-to charter school competition managed to change their teaching ways to retain students. It showed up through improved student test scores. Ms. Hoxby isn't at Harvard any more.

For a while after Brown v. Board (the 1954 SCOTUS ruling which outlawed de jure school segregation), public K-12 urban-district educators claimed the moral high ground by blaming their loss of market share on racist white flight, and that the children of the reprobate parents, if they couldn't be enrolled back into the (enlarged) city districts by legal force, should be left to the immoral surrounding counties and good riddance.

In 1971, SCOTUS upheld the right of the Charlotte, N.C., school district to re-capture students who had been moved by their newly-suburbanized parents to outlying Mecklenburg County schools. But then in 1974 SCOTUS, in the Milliken v. Bradley decision, denied the Detroit School district a similar privilege of forcing integration with surrounding county districts. Since then, slowly, the label of "white flight" has been changed to "middle-class flight", because the fleeing reprobate parents are now more likely to be non-white. Case in point, the efforts of the Memphis, Tenn., City School District to obtain a legal marriage with surrounding Shelby County. Some Shelby-ites aren't pleased.

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