Kelley Williams-Bolar is a felon in the state of Ohio. A jury recently found her guilty of fraud and forgery, but prosecutors could not make the case for grand theft. Nevertheless, she will be forced to pay $30,000 in restitution to the government.
The judge in Williams-Bolar’s case said she wanted to make an example of the woman. Whatever you do, do not lie about where you live to get your children into a good public school.
Though she served
just one day nine days of a 10-day jail sentence, the state clearly has made an example of this Akron single mother of two, who used her father’s address to send her daughters to a school in a nearby Copley-Fairlawn district school.
The editors of the Akron Beacon-Journal the other day asked whether Williams-Bolar deserved that felony conviction for creating fraudulent documents to place her two daughters in a better school district. The answer is no, but the law is the law. Yet in the course of an extended lament for Williams-Bolar’s plight, the editors offered no real solutions.
Here’s one: Change the law so that parents who happen to live in a ZIP Code with predominantly failing schools aren’t tempted to commit fraud to give their children a decent education.
A better education finance system would fund children, not schools. More than 20 years of experience with vouchers, opportunity scholarships and tuition tax credit programs in 14 states have put the lie to the old arguments against school choice. Study after study shows student academic performance improves, parental satisfaction jumps, and taxpayers save money. Although the argument may be obvious to some, it remains less so to others.
Reformers and others are rallying to Williams-Bolar’s cause, and there is even a petition drive underway asking Gov. John Kasich (R) to pardon her. The bottom line, however, is this isn’t merely about one woman getting a raw deal from the justice system. Kelley Williams-Bolar and parents like her in Ohio and elsewhere simply deserve better options for their kids.