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Education "vouchers" solve the fiscal crisis, and also lead to economic recovery?

Simply open up K-12 education to the market place, with government only playing a role by financing the students with a yearly education check of $8000.

*www.usagovernmentspending.com shows American local governments spending $458.3 billion for K-12 education in 2012.
*(Sir Ken Robinson says this education system is a complete failure)
*The new education cost of $8000 education check to 50 million K-12 students is $400 billion per year
*This saves $58.3 billion
*(a $6000 check would save $158.3 billion)
*The yearly education check allows students(and their parents) to choose how, when, where, and what they learn, and also who teaches them
*The yearly education check of $8000 opens up a $400B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives
*($6000 check opens up a $300B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives)

State fiscal crisis solved, federal fiscal crisis solved, and the new education market leads America's economic recovery.

Thoughts everyone?

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    • Jan 14 2013: Good one Varlan,

      The average cost of K-12 education in Pennsylvania is over $12,000.
      -Kindergarten class of 30 students, $360,000/yr; 1000 instructional hours.
      -1000 instructional hours; $360/hr for an excellent tutor.
      -Teachers paid $50,000.

      Supporters of the politicians and central planners of public schooling, please justify the $310,000.
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    Jan 23 2013: A the mother of two who went to private school and then public school I have an incredible issue with vouchers as they really lead to flight from districts; rather than working to create better schools we simply shut down (due to lack of applicants) those that have no voucher students. I am a former high school teacher, now a professor, and agree that the US educational system is in chaos but really believe that it takes an entire community to change things - we need to clarify for parents that they have to be involved as actively as possible, we have to hold teachers accountable for their poor teaching and reward them for great teaching. I am currently ranked 17th best community college professor in the entire country but I make less than a colleague who has taught for years, is tenured and does absolutely nothing - we need to be held to a high standard where we can be replaced if we are not doing the job. Finally we need to create a culture from the bottom up where education matters first, where it is the priority.
    • Jan 23 2013: Ellen, congratulations on your ranking.

      Some of the voucher systems have been a mess, some have parents in inner cities celebrating winning vouchers (handed out by lottery) as if it the megamillions. Students and parents paying for education directly (with government helping with finance) would lead to flight from the bad teachers, and flight to the good ones. Bad teachers simply have to shut down because they have no income, and the good ones open up space for more students and get more money. I agree it is a sad thing to see schools close doors, but on a personal level for me, it is even worse to see children being cheated out of an education, to see good teachers being cheated out of fair pay, and to see bad teachers get a free ride. So let the bad schools and teachers fail, let the good ones thrive.

      Bottoms up comes by putting money into the hands of the students and parents to have choice. It also gets the parents more involved and active in education now that they are responsible for choices rather than government.

      In the 1700s, England had the same problem with tenure. Oxford stagnated, yet universities in Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh) thrived in part to students having choice and paying professors directly.
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    Jan 23 2013: My chief concern about vouchers is the unintended consequences. Middle and upper class families will do fine, I think, but not the poor. Attending a school other than the poorly-performing neighborhood one is not an option for many poor children because they lack transportation, and I haven't seen a voucher plan which addresses that (maybe I just missed it). Requiring a poor family to use a chunk of its voucher money to pay for transportation means that their kids will have to go without something else.

    How do you handle travel distance at all? Are the students farther away from a diserable school out of luck because of location? Or will there no longer be any such thing as a neighborhood school; will all scholls be open to all students? If no school has a designated attendance area, then who gets to attend the highest-performing schools which will probably have far more applicants than spaces?

    What about the special needs students? Will those families get extra voucher money to pay for the aides and other expenses their children require, or will schools require everyone else to subsidize those costs? Also, the way No Child Left Behind works, schools are penalized for their special education students. No matter how great a school might be in meeting the needs of its disabled students, those with mental disabilities hurt the school's rating, driving away voucher-wielding parents from an otherwise excellent school.

    This may be a minor consideration, but at the high school level, how will vouchers affect athletics? Will a school be able to recruit better athletes, as colleges do? High school athletics are great for unifying a community and creating a sense of community where one does not exist.

    On a separate note, I don't like the assumption that every teacher at a "bad" school is a bad teacher. Closing a poorly-performing school ignores the teachers doing good work (few though they may be).
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      Jan 24 2013: I was about to post similar concerns regarding good schools attracting more students than they can handle and "low-performing" schools in poor neighborhoods getting less funds. Services for special needs students is another great concern of mine.

      Despite my skepticism that public schools are the only way to provide education, these are serious issues to address.

      Frequently, private schools have higher ratings than public schools not because they are better in any way, but because they select high-performing students. Special needs students and students with behavior problems are simply pushed out. I know this from personal experience.
      • Jan 25 2013: For Petar's longer response
        • Jan 25 2013: Alan and Arkady I will comment down here. Good questions all

          For Allan,
          20 years of voucher research has shown the people who benefit most from vouchers are the poor and minorities. The middle class also benefit enormously, and the benefit to the rich is much less.

          An older poll from 2000 when vouchers were less popular showed that 87 percent of African-American parents aged 26 to 35 supported vouchers. Voucher programs and support are strongest in poor inner cities. A senate testimony elaborating on the voucher studies and research methodology:

          Also, unrestricted vouchers open up education to every service imaginable. Tutoring, apprenticeships, internships, home schooling, online schooling, night school, daycare, YMCA, attending community college. Which means that education becomes more than just the domain of schools. If 20 students from the same apartment block put their $8000 together, they have $160,000 to hire tutors at $40/hr to show up at their house to educate them for 4000 hours. Transportation, how about an innovative educators converting 5th wheel trailer into mobile classrooms and picking up the students to make his service offer more attractive for the parents and students holding the voucher money?

          The inner cities also have hundreds of charity services ready to educate the children, the charities have no market for education because of rules, regulations, and students being mandated to go to public school at certain times and places due to zip codes. And people who made it out of the inner city poverty cycle, vouchers open a market to them so they can earn big money going back and teaching --- they attract 40 students, $320,000 in revenue.
        • Jan 25 2013: An example if we hold everyone at public schools and switch to vouchers.

          So what happens is the public school sets a price equal to the voucher, and the parents and students pay that price to attend the school.

          This is a simple change to the funding model:
          -instead of education funding coming top-down through politicians,
          -the education funding comes bottom up through the students and parents paying teachers or schools directly.

          So for transportation and food concerns, if parents decide to continue sending their child to the public school, the infrastructure, transportation, and food services are already there.

          Consider the statistics Robert Winner just posted for his home state of Arizona:

          1a. 1,077,831 K-12 students
          1b. $7,931 per student
          1c. $8,554,744,647

          2a. 51,947 teachers
          2b. $$44,642 per teacher salary
          2c. $2,319,017,974

          $6.2 billion dollars missing.

          3a. Average classroom size is 25 students.
          3b. $9,000 national cost per student, $225,000 per class
          3c. Instructional hours for public education is ~1000 hours per year. $9/h student.

          4a. For young ages (K-5), education oriented daycare centers are $100-$200 a week, 6:30-18:30. 60 hours per week.
          4b. For 25 children: $50,000-$100,000 revenue to the day care business.
          4c. For 40 weeks, 2400 hours. $4000-$8000 per student. $0.6-$1.2/h student.
          At least $125,000 missing per class.

          Just like in Robert's example, politicians, unions, government officials of all levels, and "educrats" are stealing money from the students and teachers.

          Switching to bottoms up funding where the students and parents pay teachers directly prevents bureaucrats from stealing ~50%+ of the education budget from teachers ($6 billion for Arizona!), and puts the money into the hands of the educators chosen by the students and parents.
        • Jan 25 2013: What happens if parents and students are free to choose education services with their vouchers and opt out of the public school?

          So if the public school shrinks by say 30%.... I'd like to focus on the students. Isn't it great that they discovered an education pathway better for them? That they are liberated from the shackles of textbooks and curriculum planning by politicians? That they can choose when, why, what, how, where they learn, and who teaches them?

          Why are federal and state government mandating curriculum anyways? 12 years of life dictated by the government in an education system without much liberty?

          The funny guys and class clowns may actually like Shakespeare's comedies. They are forced Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth. The teachers know their individual students better than the politicians. Shakespeare has many books, yet teachers are so locked up by politicians calling the shots, they have to force the textbook. It's a disgrace.

          I know tenured teachers or administrators may feel threatened by having to attract and compete for students and parents who hold the voucher money... but seriously, man up and compete like every other service does for customers. If you are a great educator, attracting students on $8000 vouchers should be no problem, in inner cities where populations are large and close together, 40 students from the same apartment block lands you $320,000 in revenue for 1000 hours of teaching plus anything parents add on top.

          So if the public school shrinks by say 30%, and they will have to tighten their belt. The same thing happens with tutors and restaurants, if you do a bad job, the students and customers go elsewhere. This is where concerns for athletic programs getting cut come in?
        • Jan 25 2013: For school activities, I think high school sports would see a boom. Because schools can begin specializing where core parts of their education service cater to specific groups:

          -Football crazy parents can send their football crazy children to education services for the football crazy where they all fit in.
          -Baseball players who see more funding go to the school football programs could simply start baseball centered education services.
          -non-athletes who see no benefits from athletic programs could choose schools that offer services focusing on arts, sciences, and engineering.
          -special-ed schools can specialize in special ed and finally have the money to employ specialists, specialist impeded by the low pay offered by public schools will finally have a market to earn a decent wage if they are good.

          Division of labor and specialization are two key components of civilization, technological advancements, and efficiency improvements... both components are absent in America's public education because of the federal, state, and local government rules and regulations. Vouchers opening up the market allow for division of labor and specialization in education services.
        • Jan 25 2013: And for inner cities, at the beginning of this post someone was concerned about transportation and costs of the poor rural areas: What are your opinions on this Allan, Arkady

          "how do you envision competition in rural areas where there's only demand for one school in a wide radius"? Well, it's a buyers market.

          Most of the rural towns I have been through in the Midwest want nothing more than the government to simply get off their lawn, and stay off. Education "vouchers" break the chains of government rule, regulation, management and operation.

          So let's say this rural community has 20 K-12 students, $8000/student.
          And the parents pool their money together
          And the parents choose me to decide the education for their kids
          And the parents choose me to be King of education.
          So I have $160,000 of government money to spend on the education of 20 kids for an entire year -- plus anything the parents or community members decide to donate.

          I would put up advertisements across Mexico:
          "Paying $80,000 cash to the Mexican Mariachi band that teaches singing, dancing, music, songwriting to a small rural American town for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 40 weeks."

          Use the remaining $80,000 to buy instruments, decorations, and whatever other supplies. And for one year they are learning Spanish, music, song writing, dancing, and interacting with musicians from Mexico.

          How do you envision the education change for the children of an inner city single mother of 5 who now has $40,000 a year for buying education products and services --- where before she had $0 and a worthless inner city public school assigned by zip code?
        • Jan 25 2013: ""
          Advertisements across former Soviet countries
          -"Paying up to $100,000 in cash to the group of 3 circus performers that teach circus tricks, maths, and Russian to a small rural American town for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 40 weeks."
          -"Free room + food + experience of living in an American rural town. OBO/Negotiable"
          Then I would use the other $60,000 to buy resources for all the students.
          One year of Russian, circus performing, physical fitness, health, exercise, and math.
          One year of Spanish, Mariachi bands, music, dance, song writing"
          Allan, I think if you asked your students:
          "what is the most outrageous craziest education plan you can think of for a class of 20 students for one year using $160,000" they would have many more great ideas than the ones I posted.

          The combined creativity and education talents of 300 million American market participants is much greater than that of the central planning politicians and the Department of Education.

          My favorite one so far with an open education market is from Greg Swanson: home schooling + a $50/month gym membership.
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          Jan 28 2013: I don't mind legitimate competition in education, which we don't have now. Vouchers, as you explain, might be a viable alternative. I'm in favor of what helps the kids the most, and your ideas are appealing. The only down side is that to see if something works in education, we have to experiment on actual people over time.

          By the way, where I live and teach, people would beat you to death if you suggested taking away their football program, even if it has never won a game. I still think it's worth talking about, though.
  • Jan 20 2013: An excellent education remains the clearest,
    surest route to the middle class. To compete with
    other countries we must strengthen STEM
    education. Early in my administration, I called for
    a national effort to move American students from
    the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. Last year, I announced an
    ambitious goal of preparing 100,000 additional
    STEM teachers over the next decade, with growing
    philanthropic and private sector support. My
    "Educate to Innovate" campaign is bringing
    together leading businesses, foundations, non- profits, and professional societies to improve
    STEM teaching and learning. Recently, I outlined a
    plan to launch a new national STEM Master
    Teacher Corps that will be established in 100 sites
    across the country and be expanded over the next
    four years to support 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation.
    • Jan 20 2013: STEM education is definitely what we need more of. A curriculum that focuses primarily on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the surest way to ensure our children are ready for the demands of our 21st century economy. Naturally, public education is the most cost effective way of delivering it.
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        Jan 20 2013: STEM education is not that lucrative in the real world and there is a lack of jobs. While industry claims a shortage of educated engineers and chemical graduates, the jobs just aren't out there or are already filled by older people. The truth is that most graduates that get a STEM education end up in management or finance, especial the Insurance field (if they have heavy math skills).

        When I graduated in the Eighties, the jobs were not there. We were in the midst of a recession and everyone was either slowing down or cutting back. I ended up creating a job in the metal salvage industry; made boo-cu bucks. I also established a lock and key business before settling in the programming industry as a lone maverick. My first job was as a programmer in a robotics factory but that fell off after a year, leaving me looking for work. There simply weren't any jobs to be had back then and entrepreneurship was the way to go, as it might be today.
        • Jan 20 2013: STEM by itself may not be lucrative, but it is a fundamental part of the degrees that are. Consider nursing and other health care professions. Advanced math, chemistry, and biology are key parts of that education.

          Our weak economy doesn't help. Degrees without experience have always posed difficulty for new grads throughout all of history.

          It can be hard for some to realize the value of a science education. Not everybody is going to go into a profession that needs it. To that end, I actually think one of the most practical classes I ever took in high school was typing. However, from an economy point of view, if only 1 out of 1,000 students with a science education went on to be innovators, the payoff would be worth it. 50 million K-12 students in the pipeline would translate to 50,000 innovators for our future.
  • Jan 8 2013: sir ken robinson, inspiration as he is, has never taught a class in his life as far as i can gather from the biographical information available on the internet. he has many fine words but absolutely no experience (his studies were in english and drama, which speaks to his prowess as a speaker, not an educator). as much as people won't like hearing him criticised, people like him are the problem, not the solution. if ken wants to show the value of his ideas he should take a real class for 5 years! hopefully he'll realise that most of what he's saying is brilliant only in theory, and modify his ideas to better suit reality.

    students themselves have no idea (despite what they think) how to select appropriate course materials and neither can parents, and you only have one education it's not like you can try something else if the first one doesn't go the way you were expecting, like you can when selecting a restaurant. and there's further danger in that giving that much choice to people without any knowledge or experience in choosing will lead to choices based on appeal - the most congenial teacher is not necessarily the best!

    a few of my own students were complaining to me the other day about how their new teacher shouts at them so often and why couldn't she be more like their math teacher who is easygoing. i explained that the math teacher didn't bother wasting the energy to snap you into shape because he wasn't that bothered if you succeeded or not and preferred to leave it up to the students, whereas the new english teacher actually wanted students to succeed and further their potential. 3 of the 4 went into rebellious silence while the other started smiling and nodding in realisation.
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      Jan 8 2013: You have a point, Ben, that one gets a far better sense of what is going on in schools and education if one actually takes a crack at teaching in them, not as a visitor on an occasion but over the long haul. It is difficult to be expert without such experience.
    • Jan 9 2013: Ben,
      You have a very interesting perspective because you teach in Japan, and Japanese students, parents, culture, history, and values are different than American ones.

      So the Japanese government decides to redistributed education money so every K-12 student has $8000 in cash in their backpack. And the market is completely open to anyone offering education services. Do you think English-fluent Gaijin education entrepreneurs could provide more useful Western Culture and Business English education compared to what Japanese government curriculum, rules, and regulation mandate for the public and private schools?

      Let's say the market is open and an advertisement on Ratuken reads:
      -1000 hours of class instruction
      -20 spaces
      -Ages 15-17
      -Must have zero English ability
      -Must have Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as heroes.
      -Teaching Silicon Valley start up culture and business, in English.
      -$8000 per student
      -Service offered by Ben Jarvis, teacher extraordinaire.
      Then 20 students sign up for your class --- What are your thoughts on this?
      • Jan 9 2013: where a person teaches and who he teaches has no bearing on the way the human brain learns. though my studies were primarily in biochemistry, i have always been interested in the science and psychology of how we figure things out and why we think the way we do. a couple of my family members back in australia are high school teachers too, and we often share identical stories.

        your question rests on a faulty assumption, that students know what they need. students know what they like for sure, but they don't know what skills will be valuable later in life, what their own aptitudes even are, or even what they are interested in since they haven't yet been exposed to every field there is.

        an education entrepreneur is by definition a very poor educator as education is not a consumer product, and treating it as such will lead to poorly educated students. furthermore i wouldn't hold silicon valley as a standard for education, they don't even do any educating there and not everyone is destined for a tech company.

        if i gave $8000 to every student i'd expect most of them to sign up for well-advertised courses with a lot of entertainment value but little substance, with gadgets in hand that aren't even suitable for the courses they are yet to take.

        just to give 3 experiences (yes cross-culture ones) students regularly sign up for courses to be with their friends and wind up doing poorly and missing out on taking a more suitable course, buy dictionaries and software that have so much information and features they're forever going through it all while the students who bought the recommended one finish more quickly and easily, and attend special-interest schools only to discover halfway through that their interests have changed.

        think back to when you ere that age, exactly how much did you know about the world and what you should equip yourself with in order to live in it?
    • Jan 11 2013: Ben, two questions
      So what courses would you advertise as a teacher?

      "students themselves have no idea (despite what they think) how to select appropriate course materials and neither can parents," That fits the bill of an imperialist providing Western education to Japanese. Seems like you got latent British imperialist fantasies of knowing what's good for everyone else. Everyone should learn English too, yah?

      Are you sure that American parents are just as ignorant as to what is good for their child as Japanese ones?
      • Jan 12 2013: great questions!

        i would never advertise any courses. as i've said the thing that's most appealing isn't necessarily the thing that's going to be the most benefit. for example say 2 english courses were advertised, one covering the literature of the twilight saga and another the literature of hemingway. no doubt twilight is much more appealing to the modern teenager than some stuffy old guy they've never even heard of, but one day when it comes to writing their job applications or a presentation to a client, it's the students who will have read hemingway that will come out with better work.

        i think you misunderstand a little, i don't mean to dictate what all kids should learn, i mean that educational courses should be selected by people who've experienced years of teaching, thousands of students in total, and have seen the results of what is taught and how it is taught. if you're feeling a chest pain from time to time, you'd ask a cardiologist - a heart expert - rather than a friend who sells new cars right?

        i do think there is room for choice though, i always make my advanced courses available to students who've scored well in the past (though they don't have to continue my course, it's optional) and also those who haven't scored so well but wish to continue my course because with motivation they could likely improve.

        i wouldn't say purely ignorant, many are just misguided, which isn't an insult, i wouldn't expect people who haven't taught for at least 5 years to know much about it. the same thing happens when people choose to diagnose their own health problems instead of leaving it up to a doctor.
        • Jan 14 2013: Ben,
          I am going to put your analogies in the proper context for the American education system.

          If you had a health problem, would you rather have:
          A) $8000 given to a politician to maximize your $8000 on who, what, when, where and how your chest pain is examined and treated?
          B) You given $8000 to chose from a variety of doctors, including cardiologists that all have their offers, prices, history, credentials and customer feed back on Amazon.com?

          If you had a health problem, would you rather have:
          A) $8000 given to a politician to maximize your $8000 on who, what, when, where and how your health problem was treated?
          B) You given $8000 to chose from a variety of doctors, including cardiologists that all have their offers, prices, history, credentials and customer feed back on Amazon.com?
      • Jan 14 2013: i am not capable of diagnosing myself nor of choosing the correct treatment because i am not a doctor, and neither is any politician. the only answer that will result in my condition correctly being treated is C), doctors are paid a salary according to their experience and contributions to their field, and depending on attending at least 1 conference a year where doctors gather to discuss new and better treatments, improving healthcare as a whole.

        i'm really glad you're sticking with this, but u still don't seem to understand the point that the average person is very very far from being an expert or even understanding medical practice. what good would patient reviews be? lets keep with your A and B method:

        doctor A treats your condition in 3 visits, prescribing 2 different medicines, was very friendly and your symptoms disappeared after a month.

        doctor B offered a bunch of tests you could take take to diagnose your condition, allowing you to choose the one you preferred, so you spend an hour in a machine and have a 20 minute discussion with the doctor later, finally together deciding on lifestyle changes that reduced the severity of your condition.

        so which was the better doctor? if you read these 2 patient accounts, which would you choose to treat you?
        • Jan 15 2013: Ben,
          I think we agree with each other here: we both do not want politicians choosing educational or medical treatments and methods for ourselves or for our children.

          That's the problem with the American education system: politicians get $453.6 billion every year to decide educational service for America's K-12 children. Teachers, parents, and students should be empowered. Not politicians. What do you think?
      • Jan 16 2013: there's nothing wrong with politicians choosing educational or medical treatments as long as they're are making the decision based on expert advice without any conflict of interest.

        say a state needs a bridge built. there's $100m allocated for the construction and so the politician whose job is it to decide on the bridge asks for tenders. he gets 4, but immediately discards one of them because he has shares in their company. then, because he's no civil engineer, he sends the suggested plans out to 5 civil engineering professors around the country, none of which have any commercial affiliations, and chooses the bridge design based entirely on their expert advice. what's wrong with that?

        why should parents and students be empowered? what do they know about education? the problems with education in america have only arisen because parents and students have been empowered. students have no experience in the wider world and don't even know what they might turn out to be good at, and so cannot make an informed choice, and allowing parents to make the choice is just asking for trouble. most of the progress we've made in the modern era has come from children being freed to pursue their own careers rather than those chosen by their parents. why would we want to go back to the middle ages when you learned only what your father decided he wanted you to do?
        • Jan 18 2013: Ben,
          You mean "there's nothing wrong with politicians choosing educational or medical treatments as long as they're [not making the decision for me or my family]"

          You already said that politicians are incapable. It's clear you benefit from a government monopoly on schooling where you don't have to compete against other teachers for students, can treat the students in the way you see fit, and opine that you are above everyone else in knowing what education is good for them. Typical British aristocrat.
      • Jan 18 2013: i mean it's fine to choose as long as they're making the choice from expert advice and nothing else. politicians are incapable *by themselves* that's why they are at liberty to form panels of advisers, and having that expert advice at their disposal makes them capable.

        i don't benefit from a government monopoly at all and i do have to compete against other teachers, if i don't properly prepare my students for university and beyond, by school will have to answer to the education department and nobody will get raises. the point is that they will tell us to shape up, but they won't tell us *how* to shape up (and why should they, they are desk workers not teachers), which is important. we also are required to attend yearly conferences at both state and national level to ensure educational standards are kept as high as possible *at every school*.

        education should be judged based on student success, not on popularity or appeal, and parents and students just aren't in a position to make that judgement. if you wanted to judge the safety of an airline, would you ask the customers (passengers) or the mechanics who actually work on the plane and understand about how they work? some private schools here get chosen because their school uniform is good-looking! i am honestly not making that up! do you think schools deserve to get additional funding because their uniform is cool?
  • Dec 29 2012: Trust no one. F. Hayek doesn't different between hierarchies. You believe that a corporate bureaucrat is better than a government one - Really?
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      Dec 29 2012: much better. not because less incompetent, but because we can simply walk away, and choose another. the force of competition makes corporations better.
    • Dec 30 2012: Where did I say anything about corporate bureaucracy George?
      TED and individuals would be competing in this space too. You really believe that TED's education initiatives are so awful that children and parents would choose the services offered by for-profits?
  • Jan 24 2013: Seeing how much per student is spent on public education in the current system and the low Graduation rates and abysmal
    Reading and Math skills of some of the students any opportunity for improvement above the current system is necessary.

    I went to Private Catholic schools at a time when discipline in schools meant something, and while my performance was average due to lack of effort, the class setting was not disrupted by anyone. The Upside was that my Peer group was College Prep focused and we did not spend time on continuous remedial learning.

    I left Central NY where the class standards in my school and the public school in that area were that 90% went on to college. I NC where I now live, the counselors and Teachers were proud that the had college placement in the 60% range.

    I have been a Self Employed Professional Technical Recruiter, and the High Schools are allowing and encouraging Student to study for skills that have little or no demand...I am sorry but History (I love) but no jobs, English, Teaches in the Northern States, and other areas.

    A comment about the Poor and having to find there way to school. If there are vouchers and money to be made, charter schools will open in areas near them. Pay good teacher more and more people will teach.
    • Jan 25 2013: 60% range? the counselors and Teachers earn a D! D- !

      How do you feel about the science education at the Catholic school compared to the public ones?
      • Jan 25 2013: Petar I totally agree with Teachers earning a bad grade

        The All around education in Catholic Schools was superior...There has been a dumbing down with the Group learning concept taught today, what that means is that the smart person in the group is stalled by helping his group learn because they don't pay attention or do their homework.

        In Catholic HS we had 4 years of Science, so even being an average student you would have far more learning than most kids when you went to college. My same age neighbor who went to Public school had to take a semester of remedial courses to even qualify in the Local Community College.

        But we also suffered with bad teachers, (Brothers of the cloth) who continue to teach when they can't. My 3rd year algebra/trig teacher, had a 60+% fail rate for 5 classes. He would spend so much time on answering remedial questions, that we didn't get the work done. And the math for 3rd year is important for Chemistry...I ended up in summer school, and actually got good teachers in the public school
    • Jan 25 2013: 40% pass rate! Brother of the cloth earns an F!

      I have never understood the group learning, weak link, no child left behind mentality. I think education services would benefit from a "no child left unchallenged" mentality.

      So your Catholic school has four years of science, and better science teaching than the public school...I was reading that public school science laboratory education is stifled by rules, regulations, and liabilities. Did your Catholic school also have too-dangeous-for-public-schools hands on science and chemistry laboratory experiments?

      Another great thing that has been proven in a multitude of voucher studies is that parents become much more involved with and feel responsible for their child's education. Vouchers put money and choice into the hands of the students and parents which makes them responsible for education. Put money and choice into the hands of the government and people come welfare/entitlement/slaves of the state.

      The research is here:
    • Jan 25 2013: "A comment about the Poor and having to find there way to school. If there are vouchers and money to be made, charter schools will open in areas near them"

      How are the poor going to come up with the remaining $12,000 per year per child for a private school, given that the average private school costs $20K per year, and the really good ones can cost as much as $40K per year? Public schools cost a fraction of that cost with similar results.

      The ONLY thing that has been shown to have a real impact on academic success is parental involvement. That can happen with either choice, public or private. You guys talk about 'parental choice', yet conveniently forget that 'parental RESPONSIBILITY' has a much greater impact.


      It's pretty tough for for-profit companies to compete with not-for-profit organizations when both can implement the same innovations.
  • Jan 23 2013: In CA, there are approximately 180 school days. Divide your $8,000/year by 180 and you have $44/day or about $889/month for 9 months. This includes food, transportation, sports, extracurricular activities, etc.

    Now i'm going to exaggerate for simplicity sake, but hear me out. What if I get a gym membership for my kid which would cost $50/month, but since I want to make sure he shows up and at least is present, I pay for an additional attendance service of $10/month. I want my kid to emphasize math and since I am a math whiz, I take on the task of teaching my kid math in the evenings. For geography, social studies, chemistry, biology, etc; I sign my kid up to take proctored tests that might cost $100/month and I give him internet access (he's going to be better doing the research anyways) and he'll find the lessons himself. Since I believe that he should have a good quality social life, I help organize LAN parties for him and friends, talk with other parents and have our kids develop extracurricular activites. As far as text books go, most subjects that are below the graduate school level, have good and FREE pdfs available online since the basics of the sciences don't change, and the social sciences and arts are very much free online anyways. Finally, for those parents that feel their children are going to surpass them in education, there will be a default curriculum that outlines what is suggested for someone to be financially successful.

    Again, this is extremely simplified, but I think a voucher system would work well as long as it was in dollars and/or there was a loosely defined way of allowing the kids and parents to have educational options.

    source - http://californiawatch.org/k-12/majority-states-largest-districts-shrink-school-calendar-amid-budget-crisis
    • Jan 23 2013: Greg,
      Fantastic assessment using gym memberships as a pricing model. That takes care of the Physical Education class quite easily too. Many gyms have computer terminals. Group your child up with two or three friends, and the purchasing power gets them a daily personal trainer likely to be versed in the topics of health & fitness, first aid, and nutrition. "I'll drop my kid off at the gym on my way to work, $50/month" Brilliant.

      Science at the gym is easy, it is a playground for Newtonian mechanics.
      -Galileo's rolling balls down incline benches using dumbbells
      -Pendulum experiments by suspending barbell weights from the squat cage
      -Pulleys with the weight lifting machines

      I agree the system needs to be cash into the hands of the parents and educational freedom, no strings.
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    Jan 22 2013: Is it fair that a single childless person is forced to pay double in taxes to pay for education of 5 children from a low-income family? 3 of my children go to public schools and I do believe that those 5 children should have same opportunity as I did when I received my free post-graduate degree from a Soviet university. Is there a better way to social justice than forceful seizing of property from some people and giving it to others? Vouchers do not address this issue.

    If government stops taking responsibility for education and the economy starts suffering from the lack of skilled labor, wouldn't private corporations and citizens pick up the tab? Voluntarily? Not with the hidden agenda to fund religion (which wouldn't be an issue when no public money is involved), but with an open agenda of making more money? Does the financial burden need to be carried by the public at all?

    A side benefit of this might be a less polarized, more responsible, and more charitable society that does not blame the government for its failures. Not to mention significantly smaller taxes and government budgets.
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      Jan 22 2013: Switching to 50% classroom/50% national-online education would help,
      By simply allowing taxpayers without children to use the national-online education system, via something like X hours based on how much they helped pay for it.
      • Jan 23 2013: I disagree. Online education as it currently is (i'm talking about the education that get's you a degree), is much more expensive than classroom education. In addition, the quality of programs has been in question for some time. If you don't agree, ask an employer if he/she would prefer an in-class college graduate or an online graduate. That is not to say that there aren't some incredible (and FREE) courses out there (such as MITs opencourseware) that I believe to be soon overtaking traditional college. The problem then becomes whether or not the school maintains the quality required of their certification. Again, I think online schools struggle to do this.
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          Jan 23 2013: Hi greg,
          I’m not saying online is better than classroom, nor would I say classroom is better than online.
          Instead I saying 50% of both is better than 100% of one or the other.

          And I’m talking about what online will/could be, currently its still in the Bata stage.
          If you look at some TED talks about “online education” you can get an idea of where it is headed, and once it gets out of Bata it will no long be free. Envision a national system with literally thousands of teachers to choose from and in as many subjects as you can dream up.

          Plus 50/50 would be an equalizer for students in poor preforming schools, in that a student’s online 50% would of equal value no matter what classroom school they went to.
      • Jan 24 2013: Online works with people who already have the discipline to do well in school. In that sense, it works pretty well for college, but it may not work for K-12 in general.

        I'm not saying that it can't work, but I would want to see some real studies on it first, using a random group of students from all walks of life.
    • Jan 23 2013: Private industry can not afford to educate its employees from the ground up..It is far too risky of an investment. If one company payed for the education of its employees, its competitors could simply steal the educated employees away from them at a substantially reduced cost to those competitors.

      Publicly funded education solves this problem.
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        Jan 23 2013: Good point. Much like the U.S. is "sucking the brains" out of the rest of the world. However, if employers have to pay a one-time education tax when hiring a skilled worker proportional to the level of education, this can be addressed also. With such system, education will be paid for by those who use it and benefit from it, not by childless people or elderly property owners. Also, employers will think twice before firing a skilled worker and be more concerned with working conditions and turnover.

        It might also exacerbate the problem of outsourcing of skilled labor, of course.
        • Jan 23 2013: " if employers have to pay a one-time education tax when hiring a skilled worker proportional to the level of education"

          If employers had to pay $200,000 to hire a new employee, nobody would hire new employees.

          " not by childless people or elderly property owners"

          Everybody benefits from a strong economy and an educated workforce.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "If employers had to pay $200,000 to hire a new employee, nobody would hire new employees."

        If $200,000 - perhaps not. But the cost of up to one grade might be reasonable. Often, companies pay relocation expenses in tens of thousands of dollars to hire a skilled employee from overseas.

        Re: "Everybody benefits from a strong economy and an educated workforce."

        This is a generalization. I have no idea who this "everybody" is. And this "everybody" seems to always have his own idea of what he benefits from.
        • Jan 24 2013: " But the cost of up to one grade might be reasonable. "

          We are still left with the question of who is going to pay for the rest.

          "This is a generalization"

          It is a reasonable generalization. We are not writing stringent legal documents on this forum. Most people benefit from a strong economy. Is that better? lol
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        Jan 24 2013: Re: "We are still left with the question of who is going to pay for the rest."

        The amount can be calculated based on how many times people change jobs over their life time, on average. It's not so difficult. IRS can come up with a number, so can ADP or BLS.
        • Jan 24 2013: Absurdly complicated...We may as well just collect taxes and fund it publicly. It costs the same in the end.
    • Jan 23 2013: Arkady, Great questions and commentary.

      Theft of property by government through taxation is absolutely not fair, I agree.

      The children and youth are the future of any country, so for money being taken from a childless parents and redistributed to parents who are educating the next generation of citizens --- I side with the students. With vouchers providing a free education market, at least childless taxpayers could try to get some their stolen money back by offering education services to the students receiving their tax money.

      For social justice, A and B:

      If government is going to steal and redistribute, I would rather see the stolen property of taxpayers given to the poor, middle class, and parents than given to the political elite, bureaucrats, and politicians

      The current system is top-down Stalinist redistribution of your property to government bureaucrats and political elite who make the the education decisions and allocations how they see fit. The poor and middle class are forcibly assigned schools by their zip code.

      Vouchers is bottom-up grassroots redistribution of your property into the hands of all K-12 students and parents, most of whom are poor and middle where they make the education decisions and allocations with their children. And the market would be open, so they could choose the public school, private school, home school, tutors, apprenticeships, internships or anything else. The public schools would not close, they would just have to compete for students like everyone else.

      I would rather have a robber stealing my money give it to middle class and poor K-12 students than to the political elite to make education decisions for the middle class and poor.

      So with a voucher of $8000 you have complete education freedom for your three children, and $24,000 a year purchasing power. The low-income family of five would be receiving $40,000/yr for education. $24,000 of free education money for K-12.
    • Jan 23 2013: B)
      For removing government completely from the responsibility of education: financing, operating, management. Some people think vouchers are the best way to do that, (so for example, they go around telling all the religious Americans that vouchers assist in paying for fees at private religious schools --- which is true). And that's their overt goal ("hidden agenda" is nonsense).

      Voucher money gets allocated at the local government level, this removes at least two layers of the government education bureaucracy. Federal education gives one choice, state education 50 choices, local education thousands of choices. Because vouchers is only financing, all levels of government (federal, state, county, district, city) are removed from operation and from management of schools.

      Introducing vouchers at a start 1-2% of population, then progressing to 5-10%, then to 100%. The government financing creates ~$500 billion/yr market for education services for tutors, individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses and charities to innovative and compete in the education service industry. The public schools would set their price at the level of the voucher, and would have to compete. This allows the free market to compete on an even playing field with public schools and build up education infrastructure.

      If there is a shift towards not-government education (K-12 students and parents choosing tutors, online services, home schooling, not-public schools) then the local voters can decide to go the route of a transition to free market education reducing vouchers to zero. This attracts the free market people to the town.

      If they decide to raise voucher money higher, this attracts people that like education welfare to their town. If they all choose to continue going to their public school, then the only thing changing about the public school is that parents and students are paying for the service, and the money is not coming top down from politicians.
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        Jan 24 2013: Petar, with the voucher system, how would you address the issues raised by Alan Russell above - that "good" schools will grow bigger until they are unable to handle the amount of students, and "poor" schools will grow poorer marginalizing those who do not have the ability to send kids to the "good" schools for various reasons? Also the problem of education for children with special needs? You can reply to the Alan's comment.
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    Jan 22 2013: In terms of quality of service, effectiveness, and affordability, consider how US postal service competes with private mail carriers - FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. Is it a fair analogy?
    • Jan 23 2013: Why bother with the analogy? We can compare public to private education directly... Public education costs about $9K per year while the average private school costs $20K with similar results. Some of the top private schools can cost as much as $40K per year.

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        Jan 23 2013: Let's consider education as a business. Schools provide service to the public, just like mail delivery companies. Is there a fundamental reason why public school system is more cost effective than private schools? Can it be the volume? I don't see why education cannot be delegated to a large corporate entity funded by private money, not taxes, who would provide a better, market-driven education.
        • Jan 23 2013: "...delegated to a large corporate entity funded by private money....,"

          Imagine owning a business yourself...Would you want to invest $200,000 on just one employee, 12 years away from ever seeing a return on the investment, knowing up front that the child, when they become an adult, has no legal obligation to work for you or honor his parents agreement with you, also knowing that your competitors can better afford to offer better benefits to that potential employee because they never had to spend the $200,000 in the first place? Of course you wouldn't.

          Education must be funded publicly or it will never happen.

          " Is there a fundamental reason why public school system is more cost effective than private schools?"

          Most likely, because there is no profit motive for public education. Also, education is already pretty efficient to begin with. There isn't a whole lot of room for improvement... In it's most basic form, it consists of a teacher, a room, chalkboard, textbooks, and desks. We can always increase the student to teacher ratio, but that is about it, and there are obvious limitations and consequences for doing that.

          "Can it be the volume?"

          Education costs scale pretty easily. If you have 30 students, you only need one room and one teacher and 30 text books. If you have 60, you only need two rooms and two teachers and 60 textbooks.. The costs track pretty closely to the number of students.

          Also, even public schools suffer from low volume. There are plenty of small towns through out the United States with low student population. They still manage to provide a better education for half the price.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "Education must be funded publicly or it will never happen."

        I doubt this, if I may. Wherever there is a public need, there is a service provider to fill it in. With a right business model, it can be done. Of course, businesses will not invest in elementary school education of an individual student. There is no way to ensure that this student will work for a particular company or, even, in a particular field after graduating the high school, or even that he/she will live in this country or live at all. But it does not mean that businesses won't invest in K-12 education in general. When there is a shortage of young people with high-school education, market will come up with a solution. Filling needs is what market does best. Controlling and manipulating people is what government does best.

        You may be right that human development cannot be optimized like production of electronic chips by installing a machine of some sort. However, I don't believe that it's impossible to provide private education at lower cost and better quality than the one funded by government. Cost scales down pretty dramatically when you buy furniture, supplies, and equipment by the million. I don't think, we need to argue about it. The only cost component that, perhaps, does not decrease with volume, is salaries.

        I think, the fundamental reason why private education cannot compete with government is because government won't let go of the monopoly. It's about mind control and ideology, not about preparing children for life and labor force for economy. It is not a surprise that the only other institution who is willing to compete with the government is religion.
        • Jan 24 2013: " Wherever there is a public need, there is a service provider to fill it in"

          Only if it is profitable. That is economics 101.

          Private education costs, on average $20K per year. Only the wealthy would be able to afford it. If you are going to claim that someone will provide it, you need to demonstrate a mechanism that will guarantee it will happen. No rational understanding of free markets even remotely hints at investments with out any hope of return.

          "Cost scales down pretty dramatically when you buy furniture, supplies, and equipment by the million"

          You would be surprised at how little needs to be purchased to get the best price. Even a hundred desks are going to command a good bargain.

          "I think, the fundamental reason why private education cannot compete with government is because government won't let go of the monopoly. "

          There is no conspiracy and there is no monopoly. YOU could start a private school tomorrow, just like the other 5,000 private schools currently in the market.
        • Jan 25 2013: .
          "I think, the fundamental reason why private education cannot compete with government is because government won't let go of the monopoly. "

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        Jan 23 2013: Tuition is not the cost. It's the price consumer pays. I don't think, you compare apples to apples. What's the profit margin of those elite private schools?

        Currently, private schools are considered a luxury. If private schools become a commodity, I'm sure, the cost and price may drop significantly. Quality too, but there will be choice and healthy competition.
        • Jan 24 2013: "Tuition is not the cost"

          True, but the tuition is still what it is, and there is no rational reason to believe it would change.

          On any demand curve (law of demand), there are exactly two price points that maximize profits. These points are where prices tend to gravitate to in a free market economy.

          " If private schools become a commodity, I'm sure, the cost and price may drop significantly"

          You're guessing.
        • Jan 25 2013: Arkady is correct again.
          Chile's voucher programs and open education markets provide an excellent example of how competition drives down price and drives up innovation. Price wars to attract buyers of products and services are seen across all industries and business, including private educational services like SAT tutoring.

          I think the troll count for Brock is at three users now? Moderators still sleeping at the switch?
    • Jan 23 2013: The United States Postal Service is a great analogy!.
      USPS is an unprofitable, inferior service that costs the country billions of dollars in losses every year. DHL, FedEx, UPS, and any other competitor has to figure out how to make profits to be sustainable. And at the same time, the USPS monopoly prevents better services like FedEx from having a larger market to serve where they can further innovate and reduce costs through competition. So Americans are getting DMV and USPS educations because the state has a monopoly on education.

      I used government controlled food production and food services in East Germany as an analogy, your USPS analogy is a much better one.

      Companies owners would do things to capture the $8000/head student bounty: internships and apprenticeships for math, computer programming, physics, sciences, all while helping out solving real world problems related to the business. Companies that already have daycare centers would now have the market to expand education service offers to the children of employees.

      The weekly daycare rates from 6:30-18:30 are $100-$200/week on the market. Microsoft and Google give employees 20% discounts on child-care arrangements already, so they could get $8000 per employee child offering Google child care.
      • Jan 23 2013: Just one problem with this anecdotal argument....

        We already KNOW that public schools are more cost effective that private schools. $9K < $20K. We don't have to guess what private industry COULD do, There are already more than 5,000 private schools in the market already, and they have been there for a while. They have already proven that they can't do it cheaper.
        • Jan 25 2013: That's hilarious Brock

          If public schools are 50% cheaper than private schools, then the voucher system will see parents and students choosing public schools, and the public schools expanding and putting private schools out of business.

          Not only that, the money going to the teachers of the public schools will increase significantly because the funding is from bottoms up through the parents and students directly to the teachers. This makes the politicians at the federal, state, county, and city levels obsolete, and makes the unions obsolete too. More money into the hands of the teachers.

          Consider the statistics Robert Winner just posted for his home state of Arizona:

          1a. 1,077,831 K-12 students
          1b. $7,931 per student
          1c. $8,554,744,647

          2a. 51,947 teachers
          2b. $$44,642 per teacher salary
          2c. $2,319,017,974
          $6.2 billion dollars missing.

          Under vouchers, all $8,554,744,647 would be going directly to the public school teachers, given to them by the students and parents. That's $6.2 billion dollars more to the teachers for resources for sciences, maths and engineering you like. So if anything, you should be an ardent supporter of vouchers.
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    Jan 22 2013: It's an interesting question whether school vouchers would undermine the 1st amendment rights by funding religious education with public money.

    This would be true if the government favored a particular religious doctrine. But it's hard to make this argument if people are granted complete freedom in choosing what school they want to attend. In this case, school vouchers seem to strengthen the 1st amendment rights if they have anything to do with it at all.

    Education, by definition, means putting ideas in people's heads. Can we trust the government such a delicate business? If we support freedom of ideas and freedom to believe what we choose, if we oppose indoctrination, shouldn't we separate school and state just as we *claim* we separate state and religion (which is a tough claim to make after watching the inauguration oaths)? It seems to me that 1st amendment rights are much better off with government out of education business.

    If we support the 1st amendment rights, why would we be outraged with people who want to exercise them by choosing religious education for their children?

    Lest I am accused of having a hidden agenda, I need to disclose that I have received a free higher education in a Soviet state university and have 3 children going to public American schools. I confess my own hypocrisy on this issue. I support public education, but I support freedom of choice too. It does seem to me that schools vouchers would be a good compromise.
    • Jan 23 2013: The first amendment has two clauses addressing seperation of church and state. The establishment clause which states "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion" and the free exercise clause which reads "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

      Two problems... First, 85% of all private schools are religious in nature. The issue at stake here is the establishment clause, not the free exercise clause. The systemic consequence of vouchers is the funding of religion. It can be broken down ever further by realizing the some religions more represented than others. As for the free exercise clause, nothing is stopping people from choosing to spend their own money on a religious education..

      While the 1st amendment issue is important to me, it is not my most significant issue...

      Second, and far worse is to realize that private schools are not held to any curriculum standards.

      Public education is provided for a reason - our economy needs an educated work force and future innovators to thrive. This is what tax payers are paying for. We expect a curriculum that includes the teaching of science to prepare students for the demands of a 21st century economy. A curriculum that trades away science for religion means that the tax payer isn't getting value for their dollar.
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        Jan 23 2013: It is still vague to me why you equate school vouchers with helping to fund and establish religion. It's not the government money in the first place. It belongs to the people. Why can't people choose to spend it on religious education if this is their choice? I do not see how this can be viewed as government funding religion. I don't get this "hidden agenda" back-and-forth.

        Your second concern can be easily addressed by licensing, much like state regulates the medical, construction, or food industry. Or, better yet, if private schools are funded by businesses who hire the graduates, it can be easily addressed by free market if school funding is set up to be proportional to the quality of education they provide.
        • Jan 23 2013: "It's not the government money in the first place. It belongs to the people."

          Wishful thinking. Once the government collects taxes, that money belongs to the government. The government is prohibited from funding religion.

          "Or, better yet, if private schools are funded by businesses who hire the graduates,"

          What if the students decide not to work for that company? That investment is lost forever. Competitors who are not burdened by the expense of providing the education can better afford to offer better benefits to the employees. This is why education must be publicly funded. It simply wouldn't happen otherwise.
        • Jan 25 2013: I agree with Arkady here

          Brock's reasoning compels him to forcibly prevent people on food stamps from buying Halal and Kosher food.
          It also compels him to prevent public officials from using their salary to send their own child to religious schools.

          Government is not "respecting *an* establishment of religion"
          Government is not funding religion.

          With vouchers, the government is funding parents and students and giving them educational liberty: giving life, liberty and freedom of educational choice to the people.
      • Jan 23 2013: I agree with Arkady.
        And adding more: Brock, Who do you mean when you say "We" and "taxpayers"? Surely you mean "I". Gallup polls show that over 80% of Americans believe in God, and over 40% have views consistent with intelligent design. They would disagree with your "we" comments, and their calculus on "value for their dollar" for religious education will be much different than yours. America is predicated on life, liberty, and religious freedom among others, and vouchers+educational freedom are more consistent with the first amendment than the current public education system anyways.

        A voucher distribution done by local government would be for the people of the town to vote on standards and strings attached to vouchers. Atheist voters, atheist requirements. Muslim voters, Muslim requirements. Christian voters, Christian requirements.

        Science education is handicapped in public schools because the rules, regulations, and liabilities. And as Arkady suggested with businesses funding private schools, science companies like Johnson&Johnson have better resources, talent, and hands on opportunity for science instruction than public schools will ever have. Johnson&Johnson could also do this under a voucher system too as they would have a market supported by government financing.

        And finally, vouchers are not private schools vs public schools as all students can choose to select the public school. Vouchers are giving cash to parents and students and letting them be free to choose their education. They can choose tutors, home schooling, daycare, apprenticeships, internships, or any other education service offer out there. They can choose to pay the existing public schools, as their price would be the same as the voucher.
        • Jan 23 2013: The U.S. is still prohibited by the constitution to fund religion, and religious freedom actually benefits from this.

          We are a very religious country, not because government supports religion, but because it keeps its nose out of it. If the government favored one religious view over another, it would necessarily suppress all other views. As we have seen all around the world, when government gets into the business of religion, chaos ensues, and violence erupts.

          It is more than just believing in god or not believing in god. It can be Catholicism vs Protestant, Islam vs Christianity, Mormon vs whatever, etc. When the government stays out of religion, personal freedoms of belief flourish.

          "America is predicated on life, liberty, and religious freedom among others,"

          True, and If the U.S. gets into the business of religion, liberty and religious freedom will be the first things we'll loose.
        • Jan 23 2013: "and over 40% have views consistent with intelligent design"

          There was a time when most of the population believed the earth was flat. That doesn't justify an education that teaches that the earth is flat.

          Intelligent design is creationism with no supporting physical evidence. The Dover trials made that perfectly clear. It is a topic of faith and nothing more. Nothing is stopping you from using your own private money to support your own religious choices.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "Second, and far worse is to realize that private schools are not held to any curriculum standards."

        In these days of global economy, I see the need for international education standards. IB diplomas become more popular. The easiest way to achieve this is, perhaps, through an international organization of some sort transcending governments. Most other international industry standards are maintained this way, with no or little government regulation. I think, this is where education will go in the future.
        • Jan 24 2013: I favor curriculum standards. I'm not sure it needs to be international, but I don't think it's such a bad idea either. Naturally, governments are going to be involved - it's there money we are talking about, and they have a vested interest in standards that help grow their economies.

          It is the lack of curriculum standards that leads my list of objections towards vouchers. I would be fine with vouchers as long as the recipient schools were required to teach a standardized curriculum as determined by the Department of Education. I am perfectly fine with religious private schools adding to that curriculum, to include religious studies, but not subtracting from it.

          Vouchers would also need to be limited to the amount that would have otherwise gone to public schools.
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "The U.S. is still prohibited by the constitution to fund religion, and religious freedom actually benefits from this."

        What you say is true and correct. But I still question the premise that school vouchers equate to government funding religion or favoring a particular religion by giving money to people for education and letting them choose how to spend it.
        • Jan 24 2013: You not understanding how it is a systemic funding of religion, no mater how convoluted the process is, isn't an argument.

          Giving people money "for education" requires the government to define what constitutes education. Otherwise, it could be used for buying a car.

          I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 24 2013: Re: "A curriculum that trades away science for religion means that the tax payer isn't getting value for their dollar."

        Brock, you seem to have an unjustified bias towards the quality of education in religious schools. In the city I live, I know 3 "religious" high schools - all highly desirable for many parents - religious and non-religious alike.

        Let's not forget that Newton was a believer, big bang theory was introduced by Georges Lemaitre, a catholic priest, and genetics was founded by Gregor Mendel, a monk.
        • Jan 24 2013: I have no bias towards any school that teaches a standardized curriculum. If a religious school wants to add to that curriculum something else, to include bible studies, that is fine as long as the tax payers are getting the education that THEY paid for, and that includes real science.

          "Let's not forget that Newton was a believer, big bang theory was introduced by Georges Lemaitre, a catholic priest, and genetics was founded by Gregor Mendel, a monk."

          True, and they would all agree that those subjects should be apart of a standardized curriculum. Newton, as well as Galileo, would obviously support the teaching of the scientific method and advanced mathematics. Even more, the Catholic church, along with many other denominations of Christianity, are perfectly fine with the teaching of Evolutionary theory (the grand unifying theory of biology and medicine).
    • Jan 23 2013: "If we support the 1st amendment rights, why would we be outraged with people who want to exercise them by choosing religious education for their children?"

      I am not outraged at all. People are more than welcome to do this, as long as they do it with there own private funds. They are free to go to what ever church they like, and believe whatever they want to believe.

      However, with public funds we expect students to learn science, mathematics, reading, writing, social studies, history, geography, etc....In short, we expect an education that will produce a productive member of society. We expect an education that prepares students for a 21st century economy. We expect an education that will produce the next generation of doctors, nurses, engineers, architects, software developers, bio-chemists, etc...
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        Jan 23 2013: Re: "The government is prohibited from funding religion."

        You keep repeating this over and over. Other than your fear that people will spend the vouchers on religious education (which is their 1st amendment right), I don't see why you are opposed to school vouchers. This does seem like your primary concern.

        Re: "However, with public funds we expect students to learn science, mathematics, reading, writing, social studies, history, geography, etc....In short, we expect an education that will produce a productive member of society."

        Who's "we"? This is funny. "We the people" expect "them the people" to do this and that to ensure their own freedom and happiness. And if they choose not to do that, "we" will force them.
        • Jan 24 2013: "We", is the voter. Democracy only functions when the losing side acknowledges that they lost. 'We' includes those that disagree.

          Consider the question of why you think our education is failing. What standard are you measuring that to? Notice that once you ask that question of yourself, you are immediately forced to deal with the fact that you have a standard for education that must be objective.

          So what is that standard?

          Pay close attention to this point: If you don't have an expectation for what education is, you can not claim it is either succeeding or failing, or that one system is better or worse than the other at providing it.
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        Jan 23 2013: I think, many perceived problems and failures in our society come from undue expectations. People expect other people to marry the opposite sex, dress in a certain way, etc. And when people "fail" our expectations, it bothers us deeply.

        Against same-sex marriage? Don't have one!
        Against abortion? Don't have one!
        Against religious education? Don't give your children to a religious school! Give your child and your voucher to a public school.

        But don't tell other people who to marry and what to teach their children. Especially if you care for human rights. This is my hidden conservative religious agenda.
        • Jan 24 2013: Public funds for education need to purchase a standardized curriculum. If a religious private school wants to add to that curriculum, that is fine, but they can't take away from what the tax payers expect.

          As long as that school teaches what the government expects them to teach (math, science, reading, writing, history, etc) they are more than welcome to teach bible studies, underwater basket weaving, etc.

          I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 23 2013: Your concern with standards for education can make sense. There must be some guarantee that people do spend the vouchers on education that meets certain standards. This can be easily achieved by government licensing the private schools. Much like health insurance plans cover only certain "in-network" health providers.
        • Jan 24 2013: Exactly. I am not apposed to parents choosing a religious education on top of the standard curriculum expected and payed for by the government, as long as the vouchers do not exceed the cost of a public education.
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        Jan 24 2013: Actually, I agree to most of your points including the requirement for standards and the lack of economic feasibility of private education for the poor. Raising the standard of living for people who cannot afford it, I think, does need to be based on charity - either voluntary or compulsory (taxes and welfare), or it will not happen. I am in favor of voluntary charity. Compulsory charity does not make us better.

        Anyway, thanks for a great discussion! :-)
  • Jan 20 2013: absolutely right brock hardwood
  • Jan 14 2013: I think this idea is unsound. All it will do is destroy all the public schools that we have built over the years, and give lots of money to parochial schools.
    • Jan 15 2013: Timothy,
      Anyone with vouchers can choose to attend the same public school they have been going to. The difference is that the parents and students have the choice in schooling, and not politicians.

      Implicit in your assumption is that private schooling is more effective and desirable than the existing public schools and that parents and students would choose the private ones. Would you want to be able to choose a school that was better for you and your children?
      • Jan 15 2013: No, It is not implicit. government provided schooling is not necessarily better, or worse. The problem will come when the public schools that we have been establishing for the last centuriy start to close because they can no longer compete. Sure, private schools can usually give more personnal instruction, but that is because up until recently they were supported by their congregations and are genrally more expensive. Not to mention the national dialogue where churches have won the right to not use their dollars for birth control, the flip side will be I don't want my taxes supporting your church's school!
        • Jan 16 2013: If it is not implicit, then why do you think students with vouchers would not choose to give their voucher to the public school, and continue attending the public school they are already going to?
      • Jan 18 2013: People generally pick exclusive over standard. I see this detroying public schools, watching the new private schools build until a newer more private school arises, and then the process repeating endlessly. It is better to improve the public schools we have, and letting those that can afford private schools, pay for it, without bankrupting our public schools.
  • Jan 12 2013: Hi Peter,

    There is nothing innovative in your ideas.

    Very old, Proven to be a failure repeatedly.

    Economics is on the ash heap precisely because people do not act rationally, do not have perfect information, and their collective preferences do not reach some kind of socially optimal equilibrium in the long run.

    Education outcomes will never be equal, and never be better than they are right now.

    Can this nation withstand a social experiment of this magnitude. I personally doubt it.

    And your promises simply do not convince me and most people of a brighter future for educational outcomes. Why should they? Your discipline has consistently failed to predict anything. Heck, you guys cannot even agree on the past.

    Economics and social science are opinion masquerading as fact.

    Your ideas are based upon pure myth.
    • Jan 12 2013: Public schooling being a disaster is a myth?
      • Jan 13 2013: Cite your source that public education is a "disaster". Based on what empirical data?

        What makes a school a "disaster"? Are the issues we are attempting to address "school-based" issues or "life - based" issues?

        For example, a student who is jailed and can't graduate on time. Is that the fault of the school? The student who has to quit to support the family, is that a school issue? Do we blame the public education for all the ills of the family and the public? And, please be honest here, will this "new" idea make any difference? Where is the evidence that it will do better? There are plenty of private and charter schools out there for comparison right now. There should be ample empirical evidence to support this hypothesis if you believe it to be correct and accurate.

        Please support you statements rather than simply your opinion of current issues.
  • Jan 12 2013: cont'd

    7. If you are positing that any voucher system is better than public education, your facts rely upon scantily replicated and tested research. Your data sets are also, at least by physical science standards, cherry picked to unacceptable standards by organization with the world's biggest axes to grind.

    8. In "The Bell Curve" and in the latest brain science research, it is persuasively posited that intelligence is not normally distributed. So, how are public are a failure if they mirror this biological fact?

    9. Economics, according to anyone outside the field, a long with all social science, is an abysmal failure at predicting or at explaining the past. Since the humiliating failure of your discipline since 2007 your posse has rushed to some kind of fake quantification of your asssetions. Sadly, these finding are based upon the hidden assumption in your work.

    10. There is a You Tube talk by an MIT finance expert who persuasively posits that you are the rest of your related disciplines suffer from "physics envy". To be more precise, we have repeated proof of market failure, and now we have prove positive that your discipline does nothing to explain or predict it.

    So, why have we not thrown your ideas on the ash heap?

    Please explain.
    • Jan 12 2013: Bull,
      7. If? Go back and read the title.
      8. Your presupposition makes no sense, please rephrase.
      9. See response to your first message. The educational choice crowd predicted the economic meltdown.
      10. Simon Johnson?

      The straw-men and presuppositions you made up are being thrown on the ash heap
    • Jan 13 2013: Bull, I read your critics, and they are good. I agree that these questions have not been answered up until now.
  • Jan 12 2013: Hi Peter,

    Double major in physics and mathematics. Master's in cloud physics.

    I was forced during my naval career to take course in public policy at the War College and my professor was quite honest: All social science research is based upon powerful assumptions that bias the outcome.

    So here goes:

    1. Free market theory, and only that, states that consumers have perfect information and that they always act in their own rational best interest. Peter you must agree with me that is not the case. That idea pervades your entire approach to your idea "borrowed" from Charles Murray, who stipulated a $10K check, and the author of "The Bell Curve" in which he said that 50% of all children are below average.

    2. Your statements are precisely the same as the for profit proponents of education. How well has that formula worked? Look not further than public utilities, or defense contractors, or our wireless providers. I am certain you know the regulated monopoly model and the great disservice that does to consumers.

    3. How about the benefit cards given to welfare recipients which they use for cash at strip joints. That might be their most rational decision, but is it the most rational decision for society? Does that maximize total consumer utility?

    4. Since these checks are paid for by taxpayers without children, how does using that check to send a child to a religious school maximize the utility of the taxpayers that does not support that particular religion.

    5. If we create numerous schools of different persuasions, are you certain that our market system, which by an interpretation is not free, will unify these disparate outlooks on a just economic system and set of laws?

    6. Implicit in everything you say is the immutable belief in the efficient outcome of free markets. Is that really the case? Are our markets really free? How do you explain our near cataclysmic market failure of 2007, 2000, and 1980.
    • Jan 12 2013: Bull,
      6. The Chairman of the Friedman Foundation of Educational Choice actually predicted and explained the entire market failure of 2007-2008. He has a business blog and video up that explains the whole thing.
      So +1 for vouchers.

      Criminals figured out how to game the stock settlement system and caused it to vapor lock.
      Here's the read: http://www.deepcapture.com/category/7-the-risk-of-systemic-collapse/
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      Jan 12 2013: Bull,
      Your professor got it right. In the physical sciences, we have finite factors that can be measured,weighed,etc.
      In social sciences,we got individual factors. We weigh them, then they get fat, we measure them, they get taller, we expose two of them to the same stimuli and get two different reactions. It's not social science, it's social beats the hell out of me, I don't have a clue. Now before all those social scientists out there order a hit on me, I will concede that there are valid trends and expectations how society may react to broad generalities and that can be a good thing.

      PS I didn't realize academic background was so important... OK... over 70 years in the university of life, school of hard knocks, advanced degrees in stupid decisions and failed attemps
    • Jan 14 2013: 1. I've never read Charles Murray or the Bell Curve. So your assumption that my idea was based on this is simply false. So all your questions are being asked on a false assumption. And what you are missing from your analysis is the comparison to the current education system: are the results of centrally planned education (now) better than the results of free market education?

      2. Yes, public education is a regulated monopoly model and does do a great disservice to consumers. I see you agree with me here.

      3. Many food stamps go to habits of boozing. That's what happens when people are given liberty, they maximize value for themselves. You sound like a Rousseaun lost in interpretation of Mill because you simply don't understand individual liberty, or don't want to give certain undesirables liberty. Commissar Halsey.

      4. Same as three. What is it about individual liberty and freedom that you don't get? Your questions fall under aristocratic and elitist beliefs that government knows what is best for people. Read Jefferson to understand what he meant about a wall dividing church and state. And do you have the same religious problem when people buy Kosher or Halal food while on food stamps?

      5. "If we create"... The people are choosing, and the market will respond to demand. Parents and students will spend the education money as they see fit.
  • Jan 11 2013: Sanity in societal systems occurs when there is a balance of power between labor, capital and government. The problem is societies cannot be stable for longer than one generation. SO, no matter what "system" you think is going to work, will work for a short period of time and then society will take it too far. This does not mean that you don't fix your system, it means you need to build a system that is responsive to public pull. It is only public pull that can adjust the system. Public schools went stagnant and needed overhaul. But, most of their problems actually reflected public health problems and lack of parental stability and support. Endless undermining of the school system and of teachers themselves profoundly contributes to this. (Who would become a teacher these days? The burden is enormous the standards keep getting more arbitrary, the pay is terrible and the stress is horrifying)

    Privatization of the entire system would be an unparalleled disaster. It would fall into the same category of things such as the private prison industry. If it were completely private the industry itself would have no compunction to improve itself, it would spend much of its time lobbying for more funds, figuring ways out to skim more fund off for profit and figuring out ways to skirt the standards. If you make the entire system utterly private, no one gets vouchers, no government involvement, you very quickly end up with high end gated schools and tons of illiterate children running the streets. And do not kid yourself that this would not be the direction we'd end up going.

    A public system is more readily amenable to public pressure. Fix the funding system so we have less inequality in the systems. Address the public health problems that plague the communities from which the children come. Elevate teaching in society to be something honored and honorable. Elevate the acquisition of knowledge.
    • Jan 12 2013: Sharon,
      Does the completely private food service industry.... restaurants, delis, farmer markets, and bakeries in your area "spend much of its time lobbying for more funds, figuring ways out to skim more fund off for profit and figuring out ways to skirt the standards." ?

      This is not a private system. This is government redistribution of wealth. Government is taking away $463 billion dollars from high income earners, profitable companies, and landlords and giving most of it to the K-12 children of the 99%.

      Who do you think makes better choices for children about their education:
      A. Children and their parents
      B. Politicians

      Which group is more trustworthy and honest:
      C. Children and their parents
      D. Politicians

      Giving K-12 students money to choose allows them to choose the best teachers in their public school to teach them.
      • Jan 14 2013: In a rational world you would be correct. But, what ends up happening in the real world is something very different. Schools cannot be cost effective in the manner restaurants can so that is not at all a valid comparison. Even if we went to a total private system where families choose and pay for themselves there would be bigger problems of lack of access to even the most basic schools as good schools would not exist at all where the families were poor. Poor parents therefore would have no choices at all. Allowing poor families to fall behind and remain poor damages the entire society. I love your comment that they are taking money and giving it to children. The sad thing is that I think you really believe that. Educating our children is what makes our country able to function on a grand scale. The very idea that we have no responsibility to educate all of our young means you do not see that. In the privatized system we end up with actual redistribution of wealth as we take (by government force) money from some and under the guise of free enterprise give it to those who profit from not educating our young.
        • Jan 14 2013: Sharon, the rich have tricked you again, or else you are a rich person trying to keep the poor out of rich public schools.

          If cost of a public school is $8000 per student. And every parent and student is giving an $8000 voucher, and they all decide to attend the public school they were already attending... What's the problem with that? Why do you have such a problem with the parents and students choosing to spend their voucher money at a public school?

          -This is not a privatized system.
          -The market opens to everyone: Individuals, tutors, charities, churches, NGOs, private enterprises, state owned enterprises, foreign governments.
          -Right now the poor have no choice because they are assigned schooling by zip code. So poor parents currently have no choice.
          -If they were given $8000 per child, they could send their kid to any public, private, tutoring or day care service that is $8000 or less.
          -Sharon, all taxes are redistribution of wealth. And the system I suggested is complete redistribution of wealth. It's clear that you fall in the category of people who do not want the poor attending the public school near you.

          Again: Why do you have such a problem with the parents and students choosing to spend their voucher money at a public school?
  • Jan 10 2013: You say an $8,000 check saves us $60 billion and a $6,000 check saves us even more...

    but, you conveniently forgot to tell us how much the private schools will cost a middle class family out of pocket. Public schools are non-profit. That means all of the revenues go towards educating children. For-profit schools would have to cut corners or charge more than $8,000 to make their profit.

    The tax payer still has a right to expect a curriculum that prepares students for the demands of a 21st century economy. That means, we still expect science to be taught, to include the grand unifying theory of biology - evolutionary theory.
    • Jan 11 2013: Brock, you are completely wrong.

      -Public schools are profitable for federal politicians, state politicians, county politicians, local politicians, administrators of all levels, union leaders, property developers, bad teachers, average teachers and good teachers.
      -Vouchers take away these profits from federal politicians, state politicians, county politicians, local politicians, union leaders, most average teachers, and all bad teachers.

      What would happen with $8000 vouchers? 20 students have $160,000 for 1000 hours of instructional time. That's $160/hr for a group tutor.

      Tax Payer Rights? Ahh Finally. The motive is revealed for Brock. So what about people who don't put in much money to the government through property tax, income tax, payroll tax, business tax or sales tax? You know, the poor? The rich, middle class(you), and racist know exactly what will happen with vouchers: the poor will be able to attend the same public and private schools as their children.

      Why would you want tax-paying Americans to be educational slaves to a government master anyways? Education money and direction does not belong in the hands of the politicians.
      Education money belongs in the hands of the people so they are free to choose how, what, when, where and who teachers their children.
      • Jan 11 2013: "What would happen with $8000 vouchers? 20 students have $160,000 for 1000 hours of instructional time. That's $160/hr for a group tutor."

        The same would apply at a public school, except the public school teacher, on average, has a higher level of education.

        "The rich, middle class(you), and racist know exactly what will happen with vouchers"

        Yes, it will diminish the quality of education for all, by underfunding it overall. Special needs children will never be able to get an education. Private schools could never afford to teach them.

        Funny how you continually avoid the religion comments, and the teaching of science.

        There is an age old saying that says: You get what you pay for.

        Your argument seems to be that if we pay less, we will get more. That is just dumb. Even government is capable of providing services efficiently.
      • Jan 12 2013: I take issue with the arguement of leveling the playing field.

        The assumption is that the "poor" will do better. But not if the "poor" can not get to the good schools or if the "good" schools are full up. Most high quality schools are no where near the poor areas of the community. Those that are inevitably are few and far between.

        Most students will go to their local school anyways. They won't travel a long ways to a better school just because they think it is valuable. They will go because their parents make them go. Because their parents can get them their. Yes, some schools will see an increase in "poor" kids, but most won't. Why? They can't get their. They don't have a car. The schools are not close enough. Their parents are motivated to get them their. The can't get into the school because of grades or behavior issues. Or, they just think it is to hard to get there.
  • Jan 7 2013: Sending money to a different person doesn't change the fact that the money is still being spent. The obvious answer is no. In the end, we still need an educated work force. The money is going to be spent. It may as well be spent in state schools where they don't pretend that science is false.

    Revenue is what actually solves the problem.
  • Jan 5 2013: This argument is built around a faulty premise. Your post says "The yearly education check allows students to chose how, when, where, and what they learn, and also who teaches them." - I see this as being awfully powerful for a piece of paper with numbers written on it. - Defend this premise.

    Next, how does cutting 400 billion in money already being spent on education drive a new economic recovery? It just means that once again schools will be asked to do more with less.

    Some additional misconceptions about vouchers (Internet sources)

    The basic education cuts that would accompany a voucher program would increase the financial burden on local communities in the form of increased property taxes.

    Vouchers do not offer true school choice.
    Access is a key issue in education. All kids deserve an opportunity to learn, but within a voucher program schools would choose the students, not the other way around. Private schools could choose to reject students with special needs, or for any other reason.

    Low income families will still be left with limited choices in situations where vouchers do not cover the full cost of tuition.

    And finally in many states, vouchers are unconstitutional, so the question is currently moot on a federal level.
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      Jan 5 2013: Let's take that premise one step back. Under contract law. it's tit for tat. In this situation, the state (school board, DoE, et el) takes taxes (OPM)... the tit! It gives these funds to public school districts who will use these funds to create educated mature adults. The state is hoping for educated adults to earn good salaries and pay higher taxes (more OPM)... the tat! The tax payers are telling the state et. el. that they aren't seeing the educated adults coming out of the arrangement. The school districts (who have no contract with the tax payer) tells the state " if you give us more funds we can provide better out come" The state says " OK, but your output has to pass a test as quality control " The school district agrees and teaches the tests. The states has documentation that the output has improved. The tax payer looking around, find themselves surrounded by functional illiterates, tell the states "you got to do better maybe with vouchers or, or...! The states whine "that's too hard to do". The school districts tell the states "give us more money and we can do better". The states say "OK". The taxpayers say "What the ....!"
      • Jan 5 2013: tu quoque
        You avoided having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser - you answered criticism with criticism.
        Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as 'you too' this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.
        Also please cite where states have said vouchers are too hard. Some states do have them. Educational quality seems to be unaffected by them. Also, many states are constitutional forbidden to have a voucher program while others refuse because of the threat they see to low income children.
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          Jan 5 2013: OK, you got me. I was being cynical, sarcastic, whatever. Sorry. In my weakest defense, I had posted way down the list my problem with vouchers, school taxes, etc. is that it can't be demonstrated that with the money exchanged (taxes) is equal to the value received (functional, educated young adults). The USA spends more on each public school child then most other countries and are ranked 25th to 30th in quality according to the UN. Vouchers may help children who are seriously hindered by poor schools. Vouchers to everyone? That issue has been beaten to death by almost everyone on this site.

          "Too hard to do" is not a policy statement. It is an expression by bureaucrats given to elected officials when requested to accomplish the impossible/most undesirable.
          Governor: "Let's get a law to provide school vouchers"
          Bureaucrat: "Governor, you push that and the teacher's union will make sure you won't be reelected dog catcher. It's too hard to do."
        • Jan 8 2013: Scott,
          Every politician knows that vouchers would reduce the amount of money and power they wield. So they spin to protect their own salaries that are skimmed off the education budget that should be going to students and teachers.

          20+ years of research and study on school vouchers have shown the following:
          Compared to public school peers, students on vouchers,
          *Had test performances either equal or better
          *Had reduced drop out rates
          *Had more satisfied parents
          *Attend less racially segregated schools
          *Cost less
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        Jan 7 2013: Most of the educated workers are shipped in from other countries, leaving no need to educate our children.

        We have to do something like, decrease immigration until our people are working. By creating a need for more educated people, the economy will see the need to increase funding to the education systems, given that they can't get these workers anywhere else. As long as we can simply import educated workers, They don't need to even consider the problem --and they don't.

        Of course, automation will make this whole conversation mute as more workers are replaced by machines and computers.

        Example: The other day in my doctors office, I saw the PA. She asked me some question, took some blood and checked off each item on a computer program. At the end of the diagnostic session, the computer told her what meds to give me and in what amounts, along with some simple advice to give me (the patient). If I had that program at home, I wouldn't need to doctor ( for most basic health needs.)

        This is the world we are creating and it is coming fast. Education has to catch up somehow, but, at the same time, technology is reducing the need for educated people. It appears the only future need will be for engineers and scientist, with all other being replaced by machines. I'm pretty sure the economic industry is fully aware of this future development and their only goal will be to reduce their taxes and decrease our benefits, including education, which is becoming increasingly meaningless for someone who is not an engineer or scientist.

        If you have walmart, why do you need any other retail competition? The retail world is being replaced by centralized retail outlets and, so automation is replacing the need of a generally educated population.

        One visit to McDonald's generates the question -- with our technology, why do our kids even need to know how to add and subtract when the cash register tells they how much change to give back?
    • Jan 8 2013: Scott
      Jody wrote similar words earlier describing similar vouchers. I now realize that voucher has specific meaning and is not accurate to describe my idea. From the conditions of vouchers you describe, you are right in calling the premise faulty. I would find them unconstitutional too.

      My idea is to have the government redistribute the education money into the hands of the K-12 students. The government and politicians apologize for failing at education, then simply start giving every K-12 student $8000 in cash for education every year. Education gift cards; Education welfare; Education stamps?

      The already operating public schools would have a huge advantage in keeping students; students who want to continue going to their public school decide to give them the $8000, $7000, $6000 or whatever the public school charges. Anyone else who wants to offer an education service can -- teachers, tutors, charities, churches, businesses, foreign governments.

      The America education system is the same East German philosophy when government was running food cafeterias for the entire country: American government is feeding every student the same education. When the wall fell, people were free to set up their own food services and the people were free to choose where, when, how, and what to eat. And the same for education services: Let the American people have educational liberty:
      -Students spend 13 years of their life captive to a government rules and regulation
      -Students and parents have relatively little or no educational liberty
      -Testing culture often derails the pursuit of interests that make students happy.

      Do you find anything unconstitutional about public education?
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      Jan 4 2013: OK, I would believe that there are ways to keep the funds out of the wrong hands. But your point on bad parents is a big problem for kids who do drop out and those who some how make it through. Do we sterilize drug users and alcoholics who fail to properly see to the development of their offspring? From what I have seen, I can almost get behind that idea.... but I don't think it would fly. I just don't know what to do.

      The bigger question that should be asked is where will the funds for these vouchers come? If they come from the state, they will come from taxes. Whose taxes? Now my whole dream of home schooling goes up in smoke when reality hits. Thanks
    • Jan 5 2013: Mike Trainor,

      You believe committed adults being involved throughout a child's education is the issue?
      So what adults do you feel would be more committed to a child's education? (Who provides better customer service and satisfaction)
      A. Teachers who are rarely fired for poor performance? (public schools)
      A' Teachers who know they will be fired for poor performance? (education money and choice)

      B. Teachers who get paid by politicians (public schools)
      B' Teachers who get paid by the students and parents (education money and choice)

      C. Teachers who are required to teach under the rules and regulations of politicians and bureaucrats, and students who are required to be in that class whether they like it or not. (public schools)
      C' Teachers who advertise services for teaching what they love, and students who like the same topic signing up for the class? (education money and choice)

      D. Teachers receiving $25,000-$75,000 at private and public schools. (public schools)
      D' Teachers that receive $8000/yr for every student that chooses them? 30 students being $240,000 in revenue. (education money and choice)

      That's good you are interested in seeing how educational freedom and government education money handed to the people would effect drop out rates in public schools. I would bet on at least 50% dropping out of public schools to choose alternative educational services that popup within 5 years. Let's do the experiment
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      Jan 4 2013: Not denying the effectiveness of advertising. Have seen young mothers buying junk food in the supermarkets to feed the young ankle biters they have in tow. Not sure that was any more nutritious then McDs. But, I was considering our local schools in my comparisons. Also, consider, according to UN reviews, there are nearly thirty countries where the public school systems are more effective then my local public schools. So, maybe this voucher system is not the best situation for all places... just saying.
    • Jan 5 2013: Mike Trainor,
      If $2000 of your educational voucher was used for food, where would you choose to eat:
      A. Public school cafeterias
      A' Food provided by people making a profit: restaurants, farmers at farmer's markets, grocery stores, delis

      How many not-for-profit restaurants/markets/food services do you eat at every month?
      How many for-profit restaurants/markets/food services do you buy from every month?
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      Jan 4 2013: OK, I accept that I and my family could benefit from such a plan. What concerns me is that your implications that there are parents who are blinded by modern culture to feed their children, poorly? At Mc Donalds? The quality of food at fast food places is a whole other issue. But assuming the worse, you are implying that this fast food education would be worse then the current education system. I can't speak to your area, but here, in my local public schools, a good 25% of bright, shining face first graders aren't around for high school graduation. A good number that do show up, passed a state test and are functional illiterates. No fast food company could be in business with numbers like that, regardless of advertising.
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    Gail . 50+

    • +1
    Dec 29 2012: How about taking this a step further. government sets the standards. Require tests. After a child has proven proficiency, the teacher is paid - and not until. No credentials required.

    But I have a problem with any system that charges money for education (no matter whether you pay directly or indirectly through taxes). Let's say that I have information that will make your life MUCH better. But I won't tell you how to do that unless you pay me. And I will never tell you all that you need to know, which is how I get you to keep paying me money.

    I would prefer that ALL education is on-line (volunteer) and really free and interactive.

    If you look at Mozilla, Open Office, Apache, Wikipedia, etc, these were created by volunteer labor, and they have had stunning successes. There is now a movement afloat to put university classes on-line for free and offer certificates of completion that some universities accept. Also consider Dan Pink's TED talk (what motivates people) and understand that science says that money is not a good motivator for anything other than simple tasks that can be learned by rote. It's not a good motivator for teachers who are supposed to be teaching HOW to think rather than WHAT to think.

    By the time you have gone this far, you may be thinking that capitalism is the enemy of education, and you would be correct.

    But in the meantime, pay the teachers according to the number of students that pass proficiency tests AFTER proficiency is achieved, and set HIGH standards - but do not set time limits. It may take some time to learn what a student's best learning model is. If I hire a plumber, I do not pay him/her before the work is done. Do the same for teachers.
    • Dec 30 2012: Ted Lover,
      I like your plumbing analogy. You want to pay a plumber when he solves your personal plumbing problem to a quality of your liking.

      So the same for education, right? No government standards. I don't understand why you would want politicians writing test requirements and standards for your own education.

      What if a section of government called the "Department of Defense" set the education standards and required the tests? How about those politicians? Is that government?

      Government is politicians.
      -Would you also want politicians inside your house mandating plumbing requirements set by politicians and then testing your plumbing to their specifications every year?
      -Do you trust politicians more than you trust yourself when it comes to knowing plumbing results of your own house?
      -So why do you want politicians making decisions for you about your own education?
    • Dec 31 2012: On TED Lover's point about paying for education: Although tying monetary gain to education does not sit well with me either, the public option works the same way, just indirectly. We pay taxes and states fund schools. Money will always be necessary to maintain educational organizations. Also, Petar's model avoids the problems of for-profit educations when you consider that it could include non-profit organizations such as TED. By privatizing public or non-profit education, there is a great potential for better education. As an example - KIPP schools around the country are private and non-profit, but are flipping the graduation and college entrance stats in areas with typically "less successful" stats (determining what success means is another issue in and of itself). Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems implicit in Petar's idea that the $8000 would be enough to cover a decent education at for-profit or non-profit education, as long as the free market had enough people working to figure out what works and what doesn't work fairly quickly.

      On standards: Government standards can be deceptive. So what if out students are a little bit worse at math, what if what they sacrifice in math scores is made up for by proficiency in a more subjective field like history? Broad standards tend to focus on numbers, because they are easier to measure, which in my opinion undermines the other areas which are just as, if not more, valuable. For example, history can teach values that create more globally empathetic and compassionate people. Standards should be left for the people to decide in a free market since they can decide what works and what doesn't work, even in the more ambiguous subjects.

      On materials: I look forward to more free, interactive, communal online educational materials. More accessibility and greater/potentially international collaboration will have infinitely valuable consequences!
    • Jan 2 2013: Ted Lover,
      The move towards online is fabulous.

      Hands-on learning will always have capital costs that require money. Your religious conviction to online education is very strong. Painters use paint, scientists use laboratories, photographers use cameras.
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        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Jan 2 2013: My use of the term ALL when I said "ALL learning" was overstated. I do not expect an elementary school student to get any or even most learning on line (age dependent). By the time a student reaches high school, things are different.

        Our public educational system makes little distinction between how a first grader is taught and how a high school senior is taught. This is so wrong!!!!!

        I am not a proponent of a society that is money-based, so my views can only be understood from that context. I find it abhorrent that if I have knowledge, I will only share it with you if you pay me - even if that knowledge will save your life or give you a far better life.

        Look at Mozilla, Apache, OpenOffice, Wikipedia, etc. These start-ups did not depend on money as the most important detail. They depended on volunteers who were good at what they did and were willing to help write software that was available for free to all who wanted it. Look how successful they are.

        I understand that web sites require servers, and that parts require manual labor, but if the part serves an important public need, I'm pretty convinced that volunteer workers could be convinced to serve that need.

        Free on-line schools are now popping up thanks to volunteers who see the value. I surely hope that the trend continues.

        Then again, there are places like Minnesota that made it illegal for people to use these free on-line schools. Public outrage forced a change in the law, but can you imagine a state making free learning illegal? There are too many who would not be well served by education being free - teachers being a large part of them.
        • Jan 4 2013: Now your comments make sense.

          Wow, I am curious now. I think that you mean you find profiteers, speculators, manipulators, and extortioners abhorrent? And you find people who do things out of philanthropy good? "Money" is just a store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange?

          Wikipedia asks for millions of dollars every year to keep their site running and to employ people. With vouchers, you could simply choose a Wikipedia education for your child, and send that $8000 to Wikipedia. And if you were able to put together volunteers for online K-12 education services, you would likely put many for-profits out of business.
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        Jan 4 2013: This may sound odd or repulsive to you, but I do not see philanthropy as being inherently good. But neither do I see it as being bad. I don't believe in good/evil or their derivations.

        I am also a proponent of a moneyless society (including barterless, where barter replaces coinage). Having studied the history of money and how it is used to create scarcity for the many for the benefit of the few, I see it as being directly responsible for the poor state of education today.
        • Jan 4 2013: From my read of history, money and decision making for education has been in the hands of the politicians. I think the politicians are directly responsible for the poor state of education today, so it's time to give the people a try by putting money and choice into the hands of the people.

          For a moneyless and barterless society, self sufficient farmers fit. Specialization relies on trade, so that would be out. The British love making societies and having committees... The Amish population doubles every 20 years, do they fit?
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    Jan 28 2013: I also wonder about accountability in a free market educational system. How do we make sure a parent takes the money and spends it on education? Can a parent buy a cheaper education for his or her child and pocket the difference? How do we make certain that all of the education options will prepare students equally and appropriately? Yes, those schools who do a lousy job will go out of business, but no one will know they have done a lousy job until the students' academic lives have been wrecked.
    • Jan 29 2013: Allan, excellent questions. Football first.

      "where I live and teach, people would beat you to death if you suggested taking away their football program, even if it has never won a game"

      Education cuts across America are targeting the athletic programs, and vouchers present an opportunity for football:

      Fletcher High School's football program under public schooling:
      -ticket sales +$90,075
      -program advertisements and donations: +$15,700.
      -Cash in: +$105775

      -Program cost: -$76,700
      -coaches' pay: -$33,856
      -security costs: -$10,768
      -Cash out: -$121,324
      Total: -$15,549.

      Fletcher High School's football program scenario under $8000 vouchers:
      -30 Football players x $8000: +$240,000
      -ticket sales +$90,075
      -program advertisements and donations: +$15,700
      -Cash in: +$345,775

      -Program cost: -$76,700
      -coaches' pay: -$33,856 -security costs: -$10,768
      Cash out: -$121,324
      Total: +$224,451

      So the students and parents have $224,451 for the 30 athletes to pass education requirements, spend on football, pay other people to take their exams. At $100/hr, they have 2,244 hours of group tutoring to pass exams. They could play football all day 8pm-3pm, then do education at night. With 4-5 hours of practice every day they might win more games.
      Numbers from:

      Some additional guesses:
      -Parents and students directly responsible for payment, which increases donations and more involvement from families.
      -Parents and students will be better at advertising, ticket sales, and other revenue generation methods because of the increased responsibility and involvement.
      -Coaches will be much more involved in the education, even teaching classes. And because athletes work much harder for their coach than they do for their math teachers, athlete education improves.
      -With athletes removed from normal classes, the nerdy kids they push around have a more enjoyable education experience.
    • Jan 29 2013: Homeschooling encounters many of the questions you ask, so I will address it from the homeschooling perspective.

      If a family figures out how to educate their children for $1000, and the father spends the rest at the bar, that innovative father's techniques can be spread through the community. Now fathers already do this with income they earn rather than spending it on education their children. With vouchers, however, children have aces up their sleeves: their mother, their grandparents, their friends, their friend's parents, parental abuse hotlines, church members, charity, and social pressure from the community. And with vouchers, charities and churches would likely spend more time and effort addressing the issues too. These aces for children do not exist in the current education system because it is a government monopoly run by bureaucrats. With that said, isn't it fair to the dedicated parents homeschooling their kids to give them money that their student would otherwise consume going to a public school?

      1. What % of American parents do you think would cheat their own children out of an education?
      2. Who would sacrifice more for your a child's education and are also in a better position to help them succeed?
      A. The mother and father
      B. Politicians and government officials
      3. Who is more likely to more effectively spend government money on improving the lives of a child?
      A. The mother and father
      B. Politicians and government officials

      All the education options will not prepare students equally, as students and parents have different talents, efforts, and interests. What can be guaranteed is that students will not be forced to go to a school assigned by zip code, that students have choice, that politicians are removed from taking salary out of the education budget, that politicians are removed from forcing textbooks and curriculum, that teachers compete for money from students and parents, and that responsibility is put into the hand of the people.
  • Jan 28 2013: You know what is the most sad thing that I see that you guys are really good people looking for really good ideas and you encourage people to interchange so that we can get those new ideas new businesses and start fixing the world; The only complication is someone like myself yes I am one of those people I have lots of ideas and I am very creative and I have the whole global picture the only solutions to finacial cliff to infuse my business ideas and my dream that I work it out there and I'm starting from ground zero. it's so hard to communicate and be able to speak with anybody to share my ideas or even be on your show. As I know the only one in existence that I'm 24 and still have my brain functioning as an adult and the creative flow as a child as I inspire children and I love children I have twins myself so anything I articulate juggworld is understandable to children. Is there anybody out there on your website with the world that would ever care to let the woman conduct my Music I spin the world the other way. Left turn DJ candY Amanda Hilton I hope to spend the world are turning left the other way 2 days ago: http://djcandylovebeat.wordpress.com/
  • Jan 25 2013: http://djcandylovebeat.wordpress.com/

    Now this is my blog, I speak for out world love, music, creativity, poetry, dance, economy as a whole
  • Jan 21 2013: Simply open up K-12 education to the market place, with government only playing a role by financing the students with a yearly education check of $8000.

    *www.usagovernmentspending.com shows American local governments spending $458.3 billion for K-12 education in 2012.
    *(Sir Ken Robinson says this education system is a complete failure)
    *The new education cost of $8000 education check to 50 million K-12 students is $400 billion per year
    *This saves $58.3 billion
    *(a $6000 check would save $158.3 billion)
    *The yearly education check allows students(and their parents) to choose how, when, where, and what they learn, and also who teaches them
    *The yearly education check of $8000 opens up a $400B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives
    *($6000 check opens up a $300B/year market to entrepreneurs, teachers, and creatives)

    State fiscal crisis solved, federal fiscal crisis solved, and the new education market leads America's economic recovery.

    Thoughts everyone?
  • Jan 21 2013: Public schools are good conservative politics. Public schools are good liberal politics.

    For conservatives, public educations is cost effective (costing less than half the price of a similar private education), it provides a transparent curriculum standard (something that private schools do not have to do), it is beneficial to business and industry, and with the teaching of math and science, it delivers the next generation of innovators necessary for our continued economic growth.

    For liberals, public education is cost effective, provides choices, prepares children to find a good job, and provides an opportunity to be more successful than their parents.