If cities want to avoid situations like the current mess in Chicago, then John Cook at Gawker has some advice: Make all private schools public. Rich parents (and politicians like Rahm Emanuel and the Obamas) are less likely to care about public school conditions, because they can afford to send their kids to private schools. In order for legislators to lobby for better conditions in the classroom, they need to be worried that their own kids' schools might be jam-packed with students and lacking an air-conditioner (or a library, like 160 public schools in Chicago).
Cook acknowledges it's a "radical" solution, but he's serious. "Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth," he writes. "Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn't be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally." Read his full piece here. (Read more Chicago schools stories.)