John Stossel's 'Stupid in America'

Inspector John Lozano works for the district going door-to-door to check if kids really live where they say they live. And even seeing that a child is present at a particular address isn't enough. Lozano says he needs to look inside the house to make sure the student really lives there.

Think about what he's doing. The school district police send him into your daughter's bedroom. He even goes through drawers and closets if he has to.

At one house he found a computer and some teen magazines and pictures of a student with her friends. He decided that student passed the residency test.

But a grandmother who listed an address in his district is caught. The people who answered the door when Lozano visited told him she didn't live there.

Two days later, I talked with the grandmother who tried to get her grandson into the Fremont schools.

"I was actually crying. I was crying in front of this 14-year-old. Why can't they just let parents to get in the school of their choice?" she asked.

Why can't she make a choice? It's sad that school officials force her to go to the black market to get her grandson a better education. After we started calling the school, the school did decide to let him stay in the district.

School-Choice Proponents Meet Resistance

When the Sanford family moved from Charleston to Columbia, S.C., the family had a big concern: Where would the kids go to school? In most places, you must attend the public school in the zone where you live, but the middle school near the Sanford's new home was rated below average.

It turned out, however, that this didn't pose a problem for this family, because the reason the Sanfords moved to Columbia was that Mark Sanford had been elected governor. He and his wife were invited to send their kids to schools in better districts.

Sanford realized how unfair the system was. "If you can buy a $250,000 or $300,000 house, you're gonna get some great public education," Gov. Sanford said. Or if you have political connections.

The Sanfords decided it was unfair to take advantage of their position as "first family" and ended up sending their kids to private school. "It's too important to me to sacrifice their education. I get one shot at it. If I don't pay very close attention to how my boys get educated then I've lost an opportunity to make them the best they can be in this world," Jenny Sanford said.

The governor then proposed giving every parent in South Carolina that kind of choice, regardless of where they lived or whether they made a lot of money. He said state tax credits should help parents pay for private schools. Then they would have a choice.

"The public has to know that there's an alternative there. It's just like, do you get a Sprint phone or an AT&T phone," Chavous said.

He's right. When monopolies rule, there is little choice, and little gets done. In America the phone company was once a government-supported monopoly. All the phones were black, and all the calls expensive. With competition, things have changed -- for the better. We pay less for phone calls. If we're unhappy with our phone service, we switch companies.

Why can't kids benefit from similar competition in education?

"People expect and demand choice in every other area of their life," Sanford said.

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