It’s common for people to pretend public education is free. But it’s not. Parents buy access to certain public schools with their mortgage or rent check. A 2012 study of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas found houses near high-achieving public schools cost approximately $11,000 more per year, or 2.4 times as much, as houses near low-achieving public schools. It also found the typical low-income child attends a school that scores below average on state tests, whereas the typical middle- or upper-income child attends a school that scores above average.