Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Controversial stuff

So, you hate the current system of public education? Yeah, I do. And here's what I would do to fix it, but be forewarned -- I have controversial and radical views that may offend someone.

Assuming we absolutely HAVE to keep our system of free public education (which I quibble with), here's what needs to happen:

1. All education-related activity at the federal level must immediately cease. Period. The Department of Education needs to be completely shuttered, forever. Federal funding for school lunches? Nope. And the amount that those departments take from federal tax coffers gets taken off our taxes immediately. All responsibility for public education will immediately transfer to individual states to administer as they see fit.

2. All mandated high-stakes standardized testing in grades K-12 is eliminated. If a particular school board or district wishes to administer any sort of testing among their students, they may do so.

3. No post-secondary educational institution receives federal funding of any sort. They are either funded at the state government level or privately. And each post-secondary institution may choose to admit applicants based on a high-stakes standardized test of its own choice (or even of its own creation). Students wishing to attend a particular college must meet the application requirements of that institution.

4. Students are free to attend any school district of their choosing; students who do not meet residence requirements may be required to pass an exam before being admitted, even to a public school. Students are also free to remain at home and complete all coursework via an online course. No student past the age of sixteen is required to attend public school.

5. Public-funded post-secondary institutions may not change admission requirements based upon gender, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious preference, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, or IQ score. Applicants either pass or do not pass.

Eliminating high-stakes standardized testing from public schools and instead putting the onus onto higher-ed avenues allows students to pursue the educational avenue they wish to pursue, and if they fail the entrance requirements of the institution they wish to attend, they study on their own time until they make it in, and may re-take the admission exam as often as they like. Public post-secondary institutions may not charge a fee for admission exams. Private institutions may do so if they wish.

Yeah, I know. It's a dream world.

And in my libertarian country, there would be NO mandatory public education, and no taxpayer funds would go toward education at all. Those who wish to be educated may earn the money to pay for it. People whose parents were unable to afford to pay to have them educated may work to earn the money to educate themselves. Hunger and need are tremendous motivators to work. The free market would determine how much people are paid to do a particular job, and a private business owner may even choose to pay for an employee to be educated in a specific task.

Federal government would take no tax dollars from any individual citizens based upon their level of income. Funding for national defense would come from tariffs, excise taxes and import taxes. Federal legislators and executives would be limited to one term of office, after which time they must return to their state of origin for at least ten years and must participate in private sector work.

I know it's all far too simplistic to work. But oh well.

Does this mean that I'm a hypocrite, since I teach in a public school? I don't think so... I have to live and work in the world I live in right now. But my opinion is that, in a true free market economy, good teachers are still good teachers, and would either be hired by a private school or could earn money tutoring or giving private lessons. People who seek to learn a particular skill (playing the piano, watercolor painting, sewing, ice skating, carpentry, welding) would seek out the best tutor.

People tend to value things that cost them. Yes, public education costs us, but we don't "see" it readily, and it's forcibly taken from us in the form of taxation.

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