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Wednesday, 20th May 2009

Food for Thought: Building a High-Quality School Choice Market

Food for Thought: Building a High-Quality School Choice Market
Source: Education Sector

The neighborhoods of Southeast Washington, D.C., are among the poorest in the city. There, the grocery stores, banks, restaurants, and other institutions that suburbanites take for granted have long been in short supply. In recent years, however, government and nonprofit agencies have begun turning things for the better. A brand new, government-subsidized shopping center recently opened on Alabama Avenue, providing one of the few full-service grocery stores in the area, along with a new sit-down restaurant and mainstream bank branch.

But reformers are finding that such initiatives won't fix decades of market dysfunction overnight. Not far from the new Super Giant grocery store and Wachovia Bank are older businesses that continue to draw a steady stream of customersócorner stores that sell little fresh food, fast-food outlets that serve meals low in nutritional value, and tax preparation firms and check-cashing outlets that charge high fees. Markets are complicated, and improving them requires more than just creating incentives for new providers to set up shop.

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