Anyone can take a shot at the public school system. They take in tons of money, have multiple layers of bureaucracy, they pass people that cannot read or write, and then they say the solution is more money. It’s the definition of insanity1.
However, as Chris @ VocoPro commented, we can’t have all parents be homeschoolers—at least, not right away:
And yet not every parent is capable of home schooling. Let’s just call it – there are a whole lot of parents who lack the orientation towards education that is required to home school. (Wouldn’t the majority of American parents rather hold a remote control than hold a math workbook for their kids?)
So the success we are seeing from home schooling students is really about COMMITTED PARENTING and parents oriented toward education more than it is about how kids can learn so much better away from school. That’s an important factor that may not be obvious in the stats you are quoting.
So how do we solve the problem?
Kick the Government Out—Sort of
I would propose that government’s main function in education is the verification that a student passes a certain level of knowledge. To that end, it should not matter how the child gets that education (homeschooled, public schooled, charter schooled, tutored, etc.)
I would furthermore add that there is no reason that teachers must be unionized, must be put under the same roof, and must be limited to one grade.
We all want our kids to succeed. We want them well educated—better than that: we want them to be the best they can be. The problem with the current system is that it puts all kids in a geographic area and at a certain age in the same class together.
This wasn’t always the case. There were always kids that have been educated by parents, but for those that wanted, they could send their kids to the one room schoolhouse—where kids of multiple ages would learn together. This had one of the same benefits that homeschooling has: the benefit of having different grades helping the others along and socialization between ages.
One of the problems of the government schools is how centralized they are, and they way that they are structured. This is the case for bureaucratic administrative purposes as well as teacher utilization.
Free the Teachers
I would propose that all teachers should leave the teachers union and be permitted to set up their own small businesses that would teach students that are not taught at home. These teachers would be licensed for a certain class size (much like daycare/babysitting) and the evaluations performed on the children could be limiters.
For example, if the teacher has a class size of 10 and 50% of the have below a C average, the teacher would only be permitted to have 5 the next time around.
The teacher would also be able to charge whatever amount they feel the market would bear. Therefore, a teacher could charge $5,000 a child for the year (in monthly installments or upfront) and if they have 10 kids then they could make $50,000 a year (minus expenses).
Teachers could bind together for multiple offerings (for example, specialties like art, music, gym, etc.), but they would not be permitted to organize like the current system.
Some teachers, therefore, would be able to command more money.
The school district could rent out space to teachers to hold their classes, or they could rent office space.
The school year could be dictated by the teacher.
Pay the Parents
Instead of spending $7,642 a kid, each parent could get an amount—save money and make it $5,000 or change the property/school tax and make it less. In any case, make it so that no one has to go without schooling, but give (or let parents keep) a certain amount of money to pay for schooling.
And don’t let this be only certain types of schooling—let homeschoolers in as well.
How about set up an education savings account per child, and have the government and family be able to put pre-tax money into it. Any money not used toward elementary or high school education could be used toward college—but it must be used toward education.
The market would bear out what teachers were good and which were not. It would also allow for the really good ones to make good money and would reward extra work—it would have a built in incentive.
The public would benefit because the restructuring would mean that they wouldn’t have to bus as far, maintain expensive buildings, and deal with union contracts.
They would also benefit with the choices available to them and the ability to choose the place that works for them. Each child is different and may react better to a different style or teacher. We need to free them to express their individuality.
But we need testing to make sure that the kids are getting the education we want them to have, and we need systems in place to make sure that our kids are safe.
What do you think?
- Insanity (n): Doing something over and over again expecting a different result