The fact is, Americans across the country — but especially in large, urban school systems — are voting with their feet and abandoning traditional public schools, to the point that teachers are facing layoffs. Some are going to charter schools, which are still public but are run more flexibly. Some are leaving for private schools. But many others are going another step beyond traditional education, and switching to online school or even pure home schooling. …

Traditional public schools haven’t changed much for decades (and to the extent they have, they’ve mostly gotten worse). But the rest of the world has changed a lot. The public who eagerly purchased Henry Ford’s Model T (available in any color you want, so long as it’s black!) now lives in a world where almost everything is infinitely customized and customizable. That makes one-size-fits-all education, run on a Fordist model itself, look like a bad deal.

For “notoriously inadequate” public school systems, as I argue in a new “Broadside” from Encounter Books, The K-12 Implosion, the risk is that the outflow of kids will turn from a trickle into a flood. At some point, it’s a death-spiral: As kids (often the best students) leave because schools are “notoriously inadequate,” the schools become even more notoriously inadequate, and funding — which is computed on a per-pupil basis — dries up. This, of course, encourages more parents to move their kids elsewhere, in a vicious cycle.