Education, and usually public school education, is always a hot topic in the news and politics. Bring up the subject in a group and you’ll quickly see people choosing sides, those who think that more money can fix the problems, and those who think that the system is broken beyond what money can repair.
Also, my part postings about public schools tend to get a lot of hits, so apparently it’s something people want to read about. So, I’ve decided to put together a series of articles addressing what I feel are the main problems in our education system in this country, as well as what needs to be done to address them.
To begin, I think it’s necessary for me to explain where I stand on the subject of public education as a whole. On a federal level, government has no business being involved in education – period. It’s not within the Constitution as a function of the federal government, which means that it resides with the States. So, things like the US Department of Education are unconstitutional and need to be eliminated.
At the state level, each state has the ability to decide, based on their state Constitution, whether or not that state should be involved in education. If a particular state wants to establish a public school system, that’s up to them.
With that said, on a philosophical level I don’t think government should be involved in education at all, which means that we should not have a public education system. There are few things that government does efficiently or effectively, and public education isn’t one of them. When a few government bureaucrats in the state capitol are making decisions for schools in remote parts of the state, there are going to be problems. Pushing the control down closer to the schools such as the Regional Office of Education or local school board helps, because they understand better the needs of the school, but even at that level there is the tendency to spend a lot of energy on politics rather than results.
Ultimately, if there were no public schools and only private ones, some interesting things would happen. There would be competition between schools to attract students, since more students (customers) equals more profit. Parents (customers) would be able to choose a school for their children.
To put this in the simplest terms, in our local system the budget works out to around $11,000 per student. Cut a check to every parent – $11,000 per student. Give them the option of sending their child to the local public school for that $11K or sending them to a private school for $11K. Suddenly there would be a lot of empty chairs in the public school, and the private schools, which don’t charge anywhere close to $11K, would be thriving.
Now, obviously it’s not as simple as just cutting everyone $11K checks per student. Some people pay in very little and others pay in far more than they will ever receive. However, the fewer levels of government involved in the process, the less money is wasted in the bureaucracy. Get the government out of the schools, cut taxes severely so that less is wasted in the bureaucrat shuffle, and if you need to have a safety net to help cover those few that genuinely can’t afford to educate their kids, that’s up to each individual community.
This all seems pretty radical since everyone has gotten so used to the government-run public school system, but when you really think about it, this is how things worked back before the government got involved. Local communities started their own schools, funded them locally, and communities helped out those who needed it.
Next installment: Dealing with the lack of discipline and respect in schools.