The fact that markets are better than the alternatives does not mean that they are perfect. Markets, by themselves, don’t ensure the level of access for low-income families that most Americans consider to be absolutely indispensable for the maintenance of a just society. From classical Greece to modern Pakistan, market schools have done a superior job of serving the poor children who have attended them, but poverty has limited the access of many families to market schooling, or shut them out of the education marketplace altogether.

The meritocratic promise of American society hinges on every citizen having a real shot at success, and that promise will remain a lie unless we can implement an education system that ensures universal access to good schools. Determining how best to ensure that universal access in the context of an effective education marketplace is the subject of the following section.