“Choice is inherently inequitable”
Because some people make choices that their betters, like Ms. Fewer, do not agree with, government needs the power to override individual decision-making. We will come back to this, but it turns out the problem here may not be too much choice, but too little.
The entire article is about school choice (defined VERY narrowly as the ability to pick what monopoly government school you want to attend, not the ability to take a voucher and pick any school) leading to a greater racial sorting, rather than mixing, in San Francisco schools.
I have no idea why that would be. And I still have no idea, because the article presented absolutely no facts. Oddly, my first guess -- that racial sorting of schools might match racial sorting of neighborhoods since people want to send their kids to a school that is close with kids and parents they know -- is not even mentioned until, in passing, it comes up around the 35th paragraph.
One of the issues that seems to be confusing the author is that people sometimes express preferences they don't act on. You see that in the very examples in the article. All the parents interviewed say they want a multi-cultural school, perhaps because they are really passionate about that or perhaps because they know they are supposed to say that, but it is not hard to see that these folks care more about having a school nearby with kids and parents with whom they are culturally comfortable. I find it a little weird that the city with possibly the most famous ethnic neighborhood in the country (ie Chinatown) has trouble understanding that there are totally non-racist reasons why ethnic groups, particularly those who speak other languages, might voluntarily sort.
One funny thing in the article that I have pointed out in other contexts: in the absence of facts people like to explain bad trends (and it is not even established that this is necessarily a bad trend, just a trend that planners don't like) with whatever they were against before the trend revealed itself. Teachers don't like the school choice system, so school choice is to blame. Social activists are concerned with income inequality, so they blame the problem on income inequality.
In fact, a lot of the article pursues the inequality thesis, but the interesting lede, in my mind, was buried way way down in the article:
Though the number of racially isolated schools jumped by 22 percent over three years, according to a district study, to date none are more than 60 percent white. Yet in a broader sense, white children are the most isolated in the city.
Whites are 42 percent of the city’s overall population, 33 percent of the children but only 12 percent of public school students. Why aren’t more white children in public school? Again, money appears to be the key factor: The average white San Franciscan makes three times more money than the average black resident. Whites on average also make 66 percent more money than Latinos, and 44 percent more than Asians. Possibly as a result of this wealth, white children are much more likely to be enrolled in private schools than other racial groups.
So the reason public schools are sorting into minority-majority schools is that whites have mostly bailed from the school system altogether. My response to this is not that "choice" has created inequality but that choice hasn't gone far enough. Don't just give public school kids a choice of which crappy public school they want to attend, but hand them the public money the system was going to spend on their education and let them go anywhere for school, just like rich kids.