In an otherwise admirable editorial highlighting a new report that shows New York City paid 235 teachers $81 million over two years to do nothing, the New York Times includes this paragraph:

Under the new free-market system, teachers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts, program curtailments or school closings are supposed to go into a reserve pool for a short time before they are hired elsewhere in the system. An overwhelming majority of more than 2,700 teachers sent into the pool in 2006 did just that.

Did the New York Times really just describe New York’s public school system as ‘free market’? How is it a market at all? We understand from the rest of the editorial that the teachers unions recently agreed to a rule change that allows principals to refuse transfers from senior teachers they do not want, but do these principals now have the right to fire the teachers they already have that they do not want? No. Can principals hire whomever they want regardless of union status or state certification? No. More importantly, do the parents of New York’s children have any say in where their children go to school? Can poor families dedicate the money New York would put into the public school system into an educational option for their children of their choosing? No.

So how exactly is there a ‘free-market system’ in the New York public school system again?