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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 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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