Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Information

77 U. Chi. L. Rev. 201 (2010)


This Essay, which was prepared for a University of Chicago Law School’s symposium on “Rethinking the Local Government Toolkit,” argues that affordable private schools serve an important urban-development function: They partially unbundle the residential and educational decisions of families with children. Thus, state and local officials hoping to make our make central city neighborhoods attractive places to raise children should consider employing a familiar urban development tool - tax incentives - to make quality private schools more financially accessible to middle-income families. The Essay proceeds in three parts. Part I builds the case for a middle class city. Part II demonstrates the centrality of quality educational options, including affordable private schools, to the goal of building a middle class city. Finally, Part III suggests a use of tax policy to help make private schools accessible for those of modest means. Specifically, the Essay proposes that either state or city governments grant tax credits for charitable donations to nonprofit organizations that award scholarships to children attending private elementary and secondary schools. Seven states already have such “scholarship tax credit” programs in place, which could either be replicated in other states or adapted to the local government setting.


Reprinted with permission of the University of Chicago Law Review.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.