Friday, September 17, 2010

Choice in Education

The restoration of a parental sovereignty, so that they may direct the education of their child, without monetary penalty or political prejudice.

This can be partially accomplished by returning the fullness of choice in education to all parents and children. As it currently stands in the State of Idaho, parents can choose to home school or they can send their children to a private or charter school. However, opting out of the State sponsored education system currently brings with it a huge financial penalty in tuitions and additional fees. Accordingly, only the children of the more wealthy families or families that choose to sacrifice other personal luxury have the ability to teach their children at home or attend institutions that offer a higher level of educational opportunities or better suits the needs of the child (as determined by the person who can best judge a child individually; the parent). This class prejudice certainly limits the educational opportunities of lower income households, single parents and minorities to name a few. This apparent imbalance can be remedied two ways.

The Statist solution- Outlaw private schools, charter schools and home schooling. This solution would demand an equal opportunity to mediocrity. Obviously this would guarantee an equal state sponsored means of education but not guarantee an equal ends or outcome. This solution, although “fair” is not in line with the principals of freedom, upon which our nation or state was founded.

The second option (the favorable option) would be to allow each parent the discretion to spend the education dollars allocated for their child in the way they think best suits the needs of the child individually. This method would ensure each parent and child an equal footing on their quest of education and ultimately their “Pursuit of Happiness.”

Proposal outline

Funding- The source of the funding for education for the time being shall remain as it is; a disproportionate levy from the citizens placed into the fund for the collective, and sales of state owned natural resources, such as timber. Additional funding is received from the National Government. The Constitutionality and efficiency of National funding are not addressed in this proposal.

Distribution- Each parent (if they choose to exercise the their Liberty) will receive a check or automatic deposit in account (in the amount of the state median education allocation for the child at appropriate grade level), bimonthly to use as a medium of exchange that the parent may use to fulfill the State’s stated educational objective standards for a student of the appropriate grade level, either solely (claimed as regular income in the case of a home school parent) or by sub-contract (Private School). The State’s only concern is that of, “Investment=Objective.” If a parent or private school (in cooperation with the student) perform in an efficient enough manor to achieve the standard educational objective in less hours or days than customary, the State remains dis-interested in the students/private institutions use of the “surplus time.”

Qualifications- (home school) Each parent that actively participates in home schooling and receives state dollars, must have a minimum GED qualification, and may only teach their child, natural or legally adopted. Parents may join in groups and teach in groups, with minimum requirements but one parent without teaching credentials may not teach groups of kids without the other parents present. Each parent must yield to random drug testing; positive test will result in discontinuation of funding.

Qualifications (private school) - All core curriculums must be taught by a properly documented teacher; no such requirements are considered on non-core classes or electives. Since the state is paying the parents directly rather than the state all classes, religious or otherwise are exempt from state oversight. Each teacher must yield to a background check and random drug testing.

Standardized testing-Each child must take a standardized test at the beginning and end of each school year, as a means to judge performance and as a comparison to other children of equal age and grade level. Comparative performance evaluation will determine individually, the continued funding each child’s non-state education (performance based). Private schools performance evaluation will be judged on the same scale as public schools and any probationary action will not exceed that of a public school. Home school parents that do not receive funding are not bound to this arrangement.

Diploma- The State will issue a standardized diploma to all students that complete the required objective curriculum, without implied discrimination or special document designation such as GED.

The Case for Choice

Anytime money is taken from the public whether proportionately or disproportional their must be a purpose for the seizure of the funds. We have taken for granted that education is a worthy cause, however the word education itself is subjective to the point of being liquid. What I mean by liquid is that whoever is in charge of the administration of education can determine what is of value, and what is not, based upon their individual values; money flows like liquid to serve their wants. What we are in dire need of is an objective, Objective. We must define what education is exactly, in order to “justify” the seizure of money from those who would otherwise be free to give or spend what they have earned in other ways that perhaps meet their values more closely. An objective is essential in any governmental affair whether it be war or education…what does victory look like? Of course each state has the right to design its objective; either minimalist or extravagant. Whatever the objective is it must not have vague statements like “instill values” and “social preparation” for those objectives are ones of the family and not the state.

Benefits of Education Choice

Monetary- It is proven in every case, the free market drives innovation progression and reduces costs; traits governmental monopolies invert as proven. As better methods are discovered and as the wheat is separated from the chaff only the best and most efficient will be teaching.

Economic- With many parents of elementary students choosing to stay home and educate their kids, many jobs would open up, driving the unemployment rate down and likely wages up (shortage of supply means prices go up). Additionally this wide spread distribution of earned money will move through the economy unfettered by governmental and union cronyism. Choice in education means jobs.

Family Values- It is quite normal in this day and age for both parents to work, leaving only a few hours of interaction in the evenings. This has broken the family apart. Many working moms bring home a mere pittance after the cost of child care and transportation is accounted for. With an allowance of $7000 per child a mother of three might just stay home to teach her own kids for a few years; years that will never come again.

Less legal drugs (ADD) - Almost everyone agrees Ritalin if the most over prescribed drug in the world. It is often prescribed as an alternative to discipline, to control an unruly child (mostly boys).

Less Illegal drugs – Children are largely a blank slate. Humans in general have very few natural instincts; therefore there behavior is determined by observing the behavior and interaction of other humans. One instinct humans have however is the desire to love and be loved. An assumed prerequisite to love is acceptance, therefore children crave the acceptance of other children, but they must learn how to be accepted. Children gain the understanding of how to be accepted from their parents their peers and popular culture. This is where quantity of impression often over rides the quality of advice. In other words inexperienced kids learn more from other inexperienced kids and popular culture, then they do from the wisdom of their parents; they spend so much more time observing the former than the latter. Behavior is developed by monkey see monkey do. Drug use alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, bullying are all unquestionably detrimental to the physical and psychological well being of a child, and not a result of parental advice. The monopoly of state controlled education forces, particularly the lower class children into this self perpetuating sociological disaster.

Reduce “hard” curriculum- Hard or physical curriculum such as text books are expensive to produce and become quickly out dated. Alternative education, free of state mandates may use online curriculum to achieve the educational objectives.

Reduce Capital expenses and maintenance- Public schools have massive overhead. Buildings, maintenance, lighting, heating cooling, busses, other vehicles, insurance of all kinds, are just a few examples. Any government program once inception takes upon a life of its own. Almost human, it has two desires, protection and growth. Naturally the larger it grows the less manageable it becomes. Lacking competition it casts off the shackles of accountability in times of plenty and expands far beyond the ability to maintain itself in times of shortage. The free market manages growth decisions by forecasting, perhaps influencing, human choice, and reacting to human action.

Improve the outcome- Free market education consistently and significantly out performs its public counterpart. In this case the ends should mandate the means.

More educated parents- Home school parent particularly find great value and enrichment while preparing a lesson plan or teaching a child. Both parent and child win in this arrangement.

Population Growth (the right kind) – Any legislation effects economic growth positively or negatively; but all growth is not good. For instance, several states are in the process of using their legal prerogative to nullify unconstitutional federal drug laws, by legalizing marijuana. This will have two effects: people who want to use marijuana without threat of legal action will move in and those who do not wish to live in a “high society” will move out. Perhaps the exchange in numerical population will be equal but will the economic effect be equal? Will the net production of the state be improved by this exchange? Logic gives us an answer that will most certainly be disputed by the “social engineers”; I’ll choose logic. Likewise will the Choice in Education option affect the demographics of our state. As I have experienced over the years, the quality of schools is one of the top factors when a person makes a real estate buying decision. In turn I believe, the freedom for a parent to choose the environment and ultimately influence the destiny of their child will also play a strong role when deciding which state to call home. One who makes a decision with these factors in mind and opts for freedom, is more likely to bring with them an industrious nature and moral convictions.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Homeschooling mom in PA who saw a facebook comment and curiosity overwhelmed me and I had to check out your blog.

    Just a couple of points:
    1 - Most homeschoolers I know are not wealthy. It is possible to homeschool on a shoestring and provide an excellent education. Most homeschoolers I know are one income families.

    2 - We don't want any money from the state or federal government. We don't want to be tested, scored or approved in any way by any governmnet. It would be nice to keep our property taxes for the school district since our kids aren't using any of those services - but there is little hope of that happenin.

    2 - If there are any groups of people who should be drug tested, homeschooling parents would be on the low priority list for me.

    I like your article and agree that education choice is an absolutely critical issue. I really hate the public education system - it's a disgrace upon the nation. I am not even impressed with private education, as we tried that for 2 years with our daughters and discovered what a massive waste of time and money it was. We are back to homeschooling now!