This would of course be a radical and highly disruptive step. It would involve forcibly transferring ownership of all existing private schools to the school district in which they reside, and readjusting local tax schemes to capture the tuition parents currently pay (the nationwide average is $8,549 per year, which means a total of $47 billion is spent each year on opting out of the public education system). Then access to the newly "nationalized" schools would have to be distributed on some fair basis to local students, with the wealthy kids who don't make the cut into their old schools being sent to the regular ones, without air conditioning or libraries. And resources would have to be redistributed within the school districts so that the resources formerly lavished on private schools could be spent shoring up the failing public ones.
This is not an original idea. Billionaire wise hobbit Warren Buffet once told school reformer Michelle Rhee that the easiest way to fix schools was to "make private schools illegal and assign every child to a public school by random lottery." In England, the notion of banning private education—while highly unlikely—has long been a part of the political debate entertained by major-party candidates.
And while it would have the practical effect of forcing school boards and municipalities to be accountable to their privileged elite as well as their poor families, there's also a moral argument for banning private education. Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth. Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn't be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally. Even if we stipulate that radical inequality is OK for adults—once you are out in the world, you rise or fall by the work of your own hands—when it comes to children, it's perverse to dole out educations based on arbitrary circumstances completely beyond their control.
In other words, if Mitt Romney's sons and Barack Obama's daughters had to attend public schools, I'm betting public schools would be remarkably better than they are. Instead, America seems increasingly going the opposite direction: privatization (and profitization) of public education. We're already seeing the disastrous results of that in Florida and Louisiana. When the point of public school become making a profit and not teaching kids, everybody loses in the end.
But of course, Cook's solution will never happen. The rich will continue to stay rich through domination of national resources, and that includes education. He who has the gold, makes the rules. We've been Darwining off the lower class in this country for decades. now with globalization, we're Darwining off the middle-class too.