When I was in grade school I attended West Windsor Plainsboro Middle School based on the fact that I lived in the West Windsor area. My parents relocated in 1990 to Princeton, partly due to the fact that the public schools in the area were supposed to be a lot better. Of course, I ended up attending The Peddie School, a private school that was not at all tied to where I lived as people came to the school from all over the world.

I remember my father telling me that the taxes that he paid for public schooling shot up by quite a lot when we moved to Princeton — the local government took more in property taxes for schools in one area than the other and the schools were, in theory, substantially better as a result.

This brings us to the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, who some are comparing to Rosa Parks in terms of what she tried to do for her daughters — put them in a school where they weren’t actually supposed to go.

Using the address of the children’s grandfather, who is a resident and pays taxes to Copley Township, Williams-Bolar enrolled her two daughters into the Copley Township school district, a much whiter and wealthier suburb in her home city of Akron, Ohio, in the hopes of pulling of them out of their own dangerous and poor performing school district.

There are numerous issues I take with the linked article, the least of which is the tone — implying that there was absolutely nothing wrong with what Williams-Bolar did. The next thing I found problematic with the article is how it plays at your heart strings by referring to her action as pulling them out of a dangerous and poor performing school district.

It is not a far stretch of the imagination that the taxes paid to the Akron school district are significantly lower than those paid to the Copley Township school district. By doing what she did, Williams-Bolar effectively bought a one thousand dollar item by bringing a one hundred dollar price tag to the counter and then wondering why she is being accused of a crime.

I would certainly not argue that her daughters should attend a crime ridden school — rather, if she wants to move them into the better school, she should have her daughters go and live with their grandparents. Perhaps she could live with their grandparents.

Is it fair that people who live in higher income areas have children that go to schools that are funded by higher property taxes and therefore receive the education associated with a higher priced school? Let us agree that all children should receive an excellent education — this is not debatable. However, we should not lie, cheat, or steal in order to get a good education for our children — for it ultimately teaches them that cheating to get what we want is an acceptable thing to do and this is not a lesson we should teach our children.


  1. This is a difficult topic, Gordon. I understand the annoyance with people “taking advantage” of a system that separates educational opportunities by a tax base, and I also feel for the parent who wants her kids to get the best possible education available even if she can’t afford to live in, what to her, is a closed neighborhood.

    Here’s a larger question: Is it fair if access to public schools in the same city are based on your address instead of your ability — even though everyone pays the same property tax rate?

    1. It is difficult, David — and I struggled with writing it because of the difference between what is fair and what is currently legal in the education system. Everyone does pay the same rate but the same rate is a greater amount if you live in a three million dollar home than a three hundred thousand home.

      Some would ask: is it fair that the Pentagon gets to order as many missiles as they would like but schools have to do bake sales to raise funds?

      1. This is a good topic for discussion, Gordon, and you’ve inspired to write my own angle on this topic next week!

        With your article, I guess it comes down to this question: Do you believe poor children should be offered the same access to an excellent education as children of the rich? If yes, how does one manage that trick without being labeled a “thief” and, if not, then how can we ever break the cycle of poverty that enmeshes those who cannot afford the luxury of a better home address?

        Should we punish poor children by forcing them to have the same lot in life as their parents based only on the circumstance of their birth?

        1. When I was at the Peddie School, there were many students that were there that could not have possibly afforded it and were given scholarships based on their academic achievements.

          I don’t think there currently is any other way to get the education of a rich child without stealing. Bothersome.

  2. I’m torn on this, too. I think students should have a choice in the schools they attend. If everyone leaves the bad schools for the better schools then the bad schools will have to get better or close, right?

  3. I want to say thank you so much for talking about my (case) situation.I began blogging because it is therapeutic and I started noticing many blogs about my case. I am filled with over whelming gratitude and I give thanks to everyone that signed my petition and spoke on my behalf. I went into a great depression. Many people do know know that my father as well went to jail and he died in prison all for the education of my two daughter’s I will have a autobiography coming soon. Hopefully before the new year. I wish every one well Thank you so much. We are all a family in some form or fashion. Feel free to highlight and stay up to date with my blogs. God bless http://students4revolution.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-kelley-williams-bolar-story-we-all-have-a-story/

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