Anyone who tells you that public schools are public because anyone can go to any school is lying. You can only go to the schools where you can afford to live in the neighborhood, and the school quality is part of the expense of that house. In effect, our public school system remains separate and unequal, still.

The important thing to realize about this situation is that there is no direct correlation between a public school’s budget and the performance of its students. For years, Washington schools ranked among the lowest in student achievement, despite spending more per student than almost any other district in the country. The key to revitalizing America’s urban schools is not just funneling more money into a failing system, throwing good money after bad. The key is creating accountability for the teachers in these schools. You see, affluent families who do not like the quality of education that their children are receiving can afford to pick up and leave. Poor inner-city parents cannot.

In effect, America’s urban public school system functions as a monopoly. As with all monopolies, there is no incentive to change. The Gates Foundation grant makes an important first step toward busting this monopoly precisely because it focuses on teacher performance — on holding teachers accountable for the performance of their students. Rather than simply funneling more money into a dysfunctional bureaucracy, the grant money is directed toward teacher improvement. This is the single most important step that we can take toward ensuring that our children reach their full potential.

Williams can be heard nightly on Sirius/XM Power 169 from 9 to 10 p.m. EST.

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