A reader writes:

It worth noting the fact that by having the "failing" stigma attached to schools, there could also be downward pressures on real estate markets where those schools are located.  I am an urban planner. While this is anecdotal, the number one thing I hear from new suburban devotees is they are living out in the 'burbs for the benefit of their children's education.  Often this is the only reason I here from parents, as they often lament the isolation and traffic.  If schools across the nation are being slapped with failing ratings, I suspect that real estate agents are more frequently having issues selling in communities that they once had no trouble selling in.

I got thinking about this unintended outcome of NCLB after remembering your post about The Origin of Sprawl.  As the suburbs grew, their central city counterparts collapsed and so did their tax bases and abilities to provide services – good schools included.  This became a downward spiral.  Though, while the "good schools" argument may not have been an original cause of sprawl, it certainly has helped sustain its growth.  If suburban schools are being slapped with the "failing" rating, and then worse fail to get out from underneath it, the communities that support those schools could find themselves in the same downward cycle that the inner city schools found themselves in.

This scenario is of course a bit speculative, but so too is most of real estate.  This makes me wonder about the suburban and exurban communities hardest hit in the real estate downturn who also have the misfortune of having "fail" ratings attached to their schools.  Will "failing" ratings be just one more daunting impediment for these communities to overcome?  If so, we could easily see these communities as the analogy to what inner-cities became in the late 20th century.

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