In the midst of the debate on Education Reform, let us take in a fact that is rather saddening: the US is on a serious decline in education. Ranking at number 18 among all industrialized nations.

Currently, we are looking at a system with the construct of state-level bureaucratic control with some federal regulation to impose testing standards, as we have seen from the infamous No Child Left Behind Act. Taking a look at our decline over the decades (even before NCLB), it is fair to say that our current system is failing.

But there is light at the end of this tunnel! But before I further elaborate, take a look at the Homeschool Progress Report 2009

On average, homeschoolers had a higher success rate on standardized achievement testing than their public school counterparts: that is, 37% higher. This goes, also, without the excess of funding from the Department of Education and cushy facilities. So the problem can’t be from a lack of funding in education when clearly funding isn’t the issue.

The fact of the matter is that this is a problem that cannot be spearheaded collectively, in a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, the focus must be brought to a more individualistic, localized perspective. Think about it like this: imagine a system that expands on the home school concept. Where parents and teachers, not state-level bureaucrats, craft education policy models that meet the teaching conditions for a given target populace of students.

Unfortunately, state and federal regulations provide obstacles for this. For instance, parents may teach their own children in their own homes, but have to meet higher standards and gain certification in order to do that same thing that they were deemed capable of doing with their own kids. In spite of the fact that parents would come to a voluntary agreement on letting the Parent A teach Parent B’s child. It is policy-making like this that make the construct of education in our country inefficient and counterproductive.

Now that I have addressed the problems with our current state-run system, I would like to impose an alternative that has been brought up in the Education debate:

First off, block granting money from states to the school localities, or a vouchers system. Money that would have otherwise gone to the states to send to schools would go to the parents in the form of vouchers. This near-market concept would allow for parents to garner a financial resource that they may use in the process of picking the right school for their child. This financial concept, accompanied with repeal of regulations that bound students to school districts, would expand parents’ horizon of choice for their children when picking a school in the education market. They will be allowed to pick the best and most competitive schools that they see fit for their children.

Next, leaving the education policy crafting to the parents and teachers in their localities. No standards or quota to meet from higher governments. Nothing of that sort. Local school boards could serve as the medium between parents and teachers in discussing and evaluating policy ideas that are specific to a given school’s needs and goals. From this point, policy-making at the local level could work well without and help from the state bureaucrats. If issues must be addressed, then this construct of policy making will address the issues most effectively.

Lastly, do away with federal standards on test-taking in schools. This falls into my last point on policy making. Let the localities handle it. If the state can’t make the one-size-fits-all approach work, then how would an even bigger scope of government on education be any different?

Having made my points, it is high-time we give this idea of School Choice a second look. With government solutions failing out, we can conclude that the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work (yes, I have rehashed the phrase a lot, but I can’t seem to say it enough). In the free market alternative, education policy is best left to those that specialize in the field, not a political machine that represents an agenda. And if the failures of public education haven’t scared you enough, then please watch this video:

-Nathan

Advertisements