Archived 9-18-06

thepragmaticthinker.com

 “The Future of Public Education”

By Larry John

I would like to discuss some ideas and recommendations I have concerning the future of education in the United States. For years there has been a public outcry to “fix” the PUBLIC educational system of the United States. First of all, this will be impossible, because “fix” cannot be defined. Some say that “fix” means to have better and more modern buildings. Some say to “fix” mean to pay teachers more. Some say to “fix” means to have our students pass progress tests. Some say to “fix” means to be able to have our students more effectively compete in the world arena of science and business. Some say to “fix’ means give our students a better education in the basics of reading, writing, and math. Some say to “fix” means to give our students a more progressive, liberal education so they can live fuller and more complete lives. Some say we need to “fix” the educational system so students can choose what “they” want to do in life sooner and enter college with direction and focus. And the reasons for “fixing” the “broken” PUBLIC educational system go on and on.

Now here is my thinking. The PUBLIC educational system is broken and cannot be fixed. The system is so bogged down in political bureaucracy, red tape, special interests, union politics, under funding, misuse of funds, misdirection, non-focus, status quo thinking, social rhetoric, unfunded programs, broken political promises, and under staffed, under qualified, and under paid administrators and teachers that the PUBLIC educational system can never be fixed. It is an impossible task. It is no wonder that PRIVATE schools, alternative learning programs, home schooling, and online curriculums are becoming more and more popular with the “affluent” of our population. If you can afford a good education for your student, parents are pulling their students out of PUBLIC schools and enrolling them more and more in private programs of education.

It is my opinion and the opinion of many concerned citizens that from elementary school to college, our educational system, at its best, often drives the natural love of learning out of our kids and replaces it with such “skills” as following rules, keeping still and quiet, doing what is expected, cheating or procrastinating. And that’s why, in most schools, being on time and sitting quietly are more important than critical thinking and innovative production. To prosper in this economy, students need to develop and master different skills – lifeskills such as resourcefulness, curiosity, innovation, as well as logical and verbal proficiency.

Most progressive educational professionals would agree with Bill Gates who told our nation's governors last year that the traditional urban high school is obsolete.

The reality of education is that the system for the most part is outdated, too expensive, and ineffective. Many educationally progressive countries offer PUBLIC funding for education from Kindergarten through University, where as in the United States most states don’t offer Kindergarten classes, and all Public Education stops at the end of High School.

The primary reason we send our children to school is to enable them to choose the career of their choice, earn a good living and enjoy all that life has to offer. We all want to give our children the opportunity to prosper and provide well for their families. 

Here is what has to be done if we are to give our citizens a better education which in turn gives our country more productivity in the world economy.

 

  1. We need to PRIVATIZE all education in our country.
  2. Education will be “funded” but not controlled by our government.
  3. Each family will be given a certain amount of money (voucher) for each student of each age.
  4. Parents can use this voucher to educate their students as they choose at any school or institution of their choice.
  5. The government has NO say in the choices parents and students make. Our tax dollars only go to “fund” PUBLIC education in the PRIVATE sector.
  6. When schools and institutions are made to “compete” for tuitions based on the performance of the teachers and educators, the quality of education will increase. If schools don’t offer parents and students a quality education, parents and students will go some place else, and the school is out of business.
  7. We need to also include a government funded college education or trade school education for all who want it. Most parents can’t afford to send their students to college. Only about one in 17 (5.8%) young people from the nation's poorest families, those earning less than $35,377 a year, can expect to earn a bachelor's degree by age 24. For those from the nation's wealthiest families, those who earn about $85,000 or higher, it's better than one in two (50%.) This University funding would also be on a voucher basis also. There would still be private colleges who might not need the money (vouchers), but for the most part most colleges would welcome the money as a way to increase enrollment and increase the quality of the education they offer.
  8. The obvious results of PRIVATIZING education is that not only schools would have to compete to get the student, by offering a quality educational program, but teachers could now offer their services in a FREE market. The fact is, the good teachers would be paid more. Schools would have to offer the good teachers more to keep them. If a good teacher could make twice as much at another school, because they are better qualified and had a “parent following,” schools would have to get serious about offering teachers more money. More people would want to become teachers if they could get paid more. And just like in every business, in order to get the best, you have to pay them more.
  9. Online schools would become more and more popular and accepted also. This is especially great for the “inter-city” areas and “rural” areas, where education has been hard to fund, and quality teachers hard to find.
  10. On the “one student, one voucher” system, all communities are now able to compete equally for the best teachers and educators. Because of population (demand) in large cities and communities, some schools would have to hire more teachers. In the small cities they would need fewer teachers, but the “money” is the same per student.
  11. By PRIVATIZING education, funded by the government with our tax dollars (as we currently do) we would be able to save money. The United States could keep the PUBLIC education budgets at a manageable level. Schools would have to compete for the funding and just like the “price wars” of car dealers, furniture stores, and all businesses, schools would have to continually strive to give parents and students “MORE education” for their money. This is Capitalism at its best.
  12. The less government “control” of our PUBLIC education, the better. Government would have NO say or control whatsoever on the type of education parents chose for their students. Government would only FUND educational choices based on the government’s education budget. The PRIVATE sector would have to compete just like any other private business for the money by offering a better, quality education to its customers (the parents and students.) The PUBLIC education system for the most part now is a MONOPOLY and doesn’t have to “try harder.” Just like the deregulation of the airlines, the telephone companies, etc., prices would go down (or in this case stay down) based on the economic rule of supply and demand. PRIVATIZING our PUBLIC education answers ALL the problems we currently face in our current PUBLIC education system.