How would you react if the government said you could no longer shop at a supermarket outside your local area? Or get a job more than a few miles from your house? You'd probably find the idea absurd. So why do we accept it for schools?
Catchment areas are designed to suit providers rather than customers. The system works to keep bad schools open by leaving parents no alternative choice.
That, in turn, leads to selection by house price. Parents looking for a good school have to buy into its catchment area – pushing up house prices. So poorer families are priced out.
The good news is that free schools are increasing choice. A new report by the Centre for Policy Studies shows that allowing people to set up new schools wherever they want has dramatically improved education standards in the poorest areas.
But we could go a lot further. Why not give parents control over their share of the education budget – and let them spend it on whichever school they want? Why not let all schools decide their own curriculum, instead of setting it nationally, and let families choose which is best for them?
Fundamentally, why should bureaucrats in Whitehall and the town hall decide how your money should be spent on educating your children?
In my new book, Rebel, I show that tax revenues have been captured by an oligarchy which runs public services to suit its own interests – not the public's. To get better services, the people must take back control.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex