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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: 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.

      http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/22/private-school-tuition-hits-the-stratosphere-40-000-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. "

          Bingo!
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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:
          https://www.ted.com/conversations/15730/why_does_us_education_cost_so.html

          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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