A Third Way in Education

The current education system in the United States is failing. Spending has been rising for decades with no apparent improvement. Slovakia gets better math scores than the US. In sum, the US spends more money than almost any other country for little result. So, what to do? The education debate is a constant fight between those who promote the free market and those who promote equality of opportunity. Both are important. And both can be fulfilled.

The US spends 12,000 dollars per student every year, a total of 3.5% of its economy. So, add a 3.5% consumption tax. Abolish property taxes. We now have the same pool of money. Now, make it easier for teachers to get certified. We don’t need extensive training as a bare minimum. The free market will take care of that. We should make it possible for any citizen to get certified as a teacher, who is qualified to teach children. Then, the big change. For every school, they get $12,000 (minus some transaction costs) per student per year. If you’re running a school for kids on food stamps in Central Atlanta, you get $12,000 per student per year. If you’re running a school for rich kids in Arlington, you get $12,000 per student per year. And this will have some knock on effects. If you run a school well, parents can hear of this. And they can decide they don’t want to send their kids to their old school anymore. If you’re good, you’ll prosper. If you’re not, you won’t. If, as conservatives believe, the public school is a massively inefficent monopoly, then schools will be forced to change or die.

Running a planned economy didn’t work for the USSR. It hasn’t worked for the education system. Why shouldn’t we change it? With this system, we can improve education for everyone, especially those at the bottom of society who need it most.

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