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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:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew

          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:
          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.

          Another:
          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.

          So...
          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:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew
    • 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.

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

      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:

      A.
      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.

      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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    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.
      http://www.edchoice.org/About-Us/Board-of-Directors/Dr--Patrick-Byrne-%28Chairman%29.aspx
      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.
          Example:
          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 .

    • +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 .

        • +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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        Gail .

        • 0
        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:
      http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2009-07-13/story/high_school_football_makes_money_but_not_enough

      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.
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    Jan 20 2013: This is getting intense.
    The case for public education is a lower cost then vouchers seems a wash. If $9K is given to public schools or given to a voucher program and let the parents purchase an education from a market is still $9K. If parents are given a lessor amount would those funds be used to address our fiscal problems? There seems to be no government agenda to address the fiscal problems as they seem to be bent on creating more fiscal crisis, but that's another conversation.
    It seems the question has be come: can parents purchase a equal education for that voucher?
    There is one point of view that public schools can provide the best education for $9K per child and a commercial education paid by voucher can not come close, it would cost 5X that amount and not be of any greater quality.
    That's a too absolute statement and not even absolute zero is that absolute according to a quantum physicist I know.
    Further, if we hire more skilled teachers and increase emphasis on.... STEM.... would not that action; new hires, new education materials, etc. add to the current cost of $9K? Further, would all our newly educated STEM graduates address the needs in our country for a skilled population? According to a major Home Builder on a local TV interview: "Carpenters, Plumbers, Interior Electrician skills are being filled by illegal immigrants" Is the national illegal immigration problem being exacerbated by our students are being schooled in the passing of state tests so every child can go to college?
    So many questions, so few righteous answers.
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      Jan 20 2013: "According to a major Home Builder on a local TV interview: "Carpenters, Plumbers, Interior Electrician skills are being filled by illegal immigrants" Is the national illegal immigration problem being exacerbated by our students are being school in the passing of state tests so every child can go to college?" ~ Mike Colera

      If we focus on this for a moment and understand that most industries are becoming extremely modularized in their applications, even the building industry. They can hire less educated people because all they have to do is follow the same format over and over again to achieve the necessary results. Building a home for a general population is easier than building one that requires some off the norm designs.

      Most of the investigations in our local area, (Georgia) reveal that immigrants do work for less, so this industry like most others is money driven towards the final product. All of this modularization is supported by computers which helps to generate these designs throughout industries. Eventualy, almost any industry can become so modularize that robotics can be implemented, and workers can be removed from the equation all together.

      I'm seeing this in the online education coursed being offered. A teacher makes the necessary video and they are no longer needed after that, except to answer student question via email. I think education will follow this norm because those students that learn on their own (the upper classes) are more successful in school. It's not necessarily a result of the quality of the teacher. Teacher dependent students tend to perform at a lower level in general education, and succeed less, compared to the more successful students.

      A voucher program that can be taken advantage of by some families might offer a means for a student, caught in the general education system an opportunity to move to a higher playing field.
      • Jan 20 2013: Innovation and automation have, and always will replace employees and leave them looking for work. That is the way of the world.

        It still doesn't change the fact that private schools cost twice as much as public schools for a similar education.
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          Jan 21 2013: Who said it did change the fact and so what? If you can afford to go to a private school, more power to you. In the end a private school trained idiot is the same as a public school trained one.

          What school do you attend? You are a student correct? An old one or a young one?
    • Jan 20 2013: "The case for public education is a lower cost then vouchers seems a wash..."

      From a government expense point of view, that would be true, but it still doesn't address the question of value for each dollar. Public education is provided for a reason - our economy needs an educated work force and future innovators to thrive. Private industry can not afford to educate it's workers from the ground up. The investment would be far too risky as any competitor could then just simply steal the employee away from them. Publicly funded education solves this problem, but only if it provides a curriculum that is useful to industry.

      Curriculum is key. Voucher proponents already know that public education is more cost effective. It is the curriculum that they don't like. You have seen it through out this conversation, time and time again when I bring up curriculum standards, the proponents dodge it like the plague. They know that 85% of all private schools are religious in nature, and THAT is their real motivation - to fund religion with tax payer dollars.

      For them, a perfectly legitimate graduation standard would consist of the student being a Christian and nothing else. It protects the church from dwindling attendance, but it doesn't prepare students for our 21st century economy.

      If parents want their children to receive that kind of education, they are more than welcome to fund it themselves.
    • Jan 20 2013: "Further, if we hire more skilled teachers and increase emphasis on.... STEM.... would not that action; new hires, new education materials, etc. add to the current cost of $9K?"

      The short answer: Most likely, however we already teach STEM to some degree already, so it may not be significantly more.

      It becomes a simple question of 'what do we expect our education system to deliver?' and how much are we willing to pay for it. Do we want to be competitive with the rest of the world? This is a question that every tax payer needs to ask themselves. One thing is clear though, public schools already have some emphasis in this area already, and they are far more cost effective compared to private schools at delivering a quality education.

      My argument in favor of a rigorous STEM education centers around the economy's perspective. That is, if only 1 out of 1,000 students exposed to that rigorous standard went on to be innovators, it would be an outstanding return for our money. That would mean that our 50 million children currently attending K-12 would translate into 50,000 innovators for our future. The rest would, at a minimum, be ready to be worthwhile contributors to our technologically advanced economy.
  • Jan 20 2013: What would you choose for yourself and your children?
    A. Turning the food service industry over to the government where politicians tell you when, what, where, and how to eat.
    A'. Turning the education industry over to the government where politicians tell students when, what, where, and how to learn.

    B. A completely open food service industry where anyone can open a restaurant, grocery store, deli, bakery, and people are free to chose when, what, where, and how they eat.
    B'. A completely open education service industry where anyone can offer education services, and people are free to chose when, what, where, and how they learn --- and the government redistributes wealth into the hands of K-12 students every year in the form of a $8000/student/yr.

    Equality is in the $8000 voucher to every K-12 student, and everyone is free to choose non-profit education services like TED.
    • Jan 20 2013: Argument by really bad analogy...

      If we are going to spend public funds, the tax payer still has a right to know that the education being provided is going to prepare students for the 21st century economy. That means private schools must be willing to provide a standardized curriculum that teaches science, mathematics, and so on...

      The tragedy of vouchers is that they don't save you (you have to pay the remaining tuition that the voucher doesn't cover), or the tax payer money. Private schools on average, cost twice as much to provide an equivalent education as public schools. The really good private schools can cost 40K per year. FACT!

      http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/22/private-school-tuition-hits-the-stratosphere-40-000-per-year/
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    Jan 19 2013: @Brock
    Your conviction of the ineffectiveness of vouchers is as great as Petar's belief of their effectiveness. My knowledge of this matter is mostly based on watching a large number of families participating in a lottery for school vouchers. The joy of the winners and the despair of the losers leads me to believe that parents hold these vouchers in high regard. The losers stated they wanted these vouchers for the betterment of education for their children. The cost of a commercial education vs. public could be lower based on market competitiveness, but if we look at higher education, it would seem that quality is tied to cost. Although I am hard pressed to measure the quality of education of a BA from downtown college and Harvard compared to the 1000% cost differential. Further, I question if any monies would be gained from voucher programs to be used to address the fiscal crisis. There is too much pork out there for government to buy.
    I am more concerned that our public education system has demanded more and more funds to provide our children an education. When questioned, the response is if they are not funded our children would be harmed. We don't want our children harmed in their education, so we've paid. But over the last 50 years, the measured level of our children's education has fallen precipitously. Our country is being dumbed down. There are a thousand examples of this.. for another conversation.
    If the nation gets much "dumber", it won't be long before there will only be a few highly knowledgeable academia who could help us govern our nation. I know it sounds far fetched, until I read a paper by a highly respected professor of political science who asked... why do we need the Constitution? But, don't take my word for it, go ask a young person.
    (I have already done this). American History? Government? Mandarin Chinese? They know more Chinese. OK, I've exaggerated, but not by much!
    • Jan 19 2013: A Parent's perception that schools are failing doesn't make it so. The joy or sorrow of winning or losing a voucher lottery doesn't tell us anything. Those that competed for them already perceived them as a better choice. Otherwise, they wouldn't have competed for them in the first place.

      "The cost of a commercial education vs. public could be lower based on market competitiveness"

      Competition doesn't really lower prices, innovation does. A for-profit organization's primary concern is the bottom line. On any given demand curve, there are precisely two points that maximize profit. Those two points are where price tend to gravitate towards regardless of competition. This is where public schools have a true advantage. They have no need to incorporate profit into the cost.

      That leave us with the question of innovation or efficiency. How much more efficient can we get? Consider a math class: A room, a chalkboard, a teacher, and 30 desks. There just isn't much room for improvement aside from increasing class size. Any innovations beyond that can be implemented in BOTH public and private schools. Your Harvard example is great in that it we really are left with the question of why they charge so much more given that they teach the same thing, under the same basic conditions.

      We can also show that a larger customer base isn't necessarily going to decrease the cost of private schools either. There are plenty of private schools that have student populations nearing 1000, yet they still charge $15,000 - $20,000 in tuition. In some parts of the country, public schools also have low population counts (100-200 students), yet the average cost overall is still only $9,166.

      "I am more concerned that our public education system has demanded more and more funds to provide our children an education."

      We know exactly how much our public education system costs, and it is significantly less than private schools with similar results.
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        Jan 20 2013: If vouchers lead to expensive private schools at tens of thousands and won't be tied to the learning criteria of the public schools. You have a point.
        My concern has been that the $9K we are paying for public education is way too much for the value received.
        • Jan 20 2013: "My concern has been that the $9K we are paying..."

          That maybe true, but that is a different topic altogether. I have a TED conversation that talks about textbooks that you might want to look at. (as one idea for saving money on education)

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/15807/department_of_education_hires.html
        • Jan 20 2013: Brock, please stop lying.
          1. Competition lowers prices because it takes away a monopolist's rent. Most everyone (except for you?) knows this.

          2. What do competitors do to out compete their opponents? They innovate. Most everyone (except for you?) knows this.

          3. Innovation or efficiency is a false question because your premises are false (see 1,2). And the question is false dichotomy anyways because there are innovations in efficiency.

          4. "larger customer base isn't necessarily going to decrease the cost of private schools either." That's false, this is called economies of scale. And you actually used an economies of scale argument for public schooling early in the conversation.

          5. The average cost for K-5 education is around $5000-$6000 a year at private schools. $9000 minimum at public schools. Day cares are $100-200 a week from 6:30am to 6:30pm, putting 36 weeks of day care at $3600-$7200.Your $15,000 tuition fee is patently false for K-5. Thousands of private high schools cost less than $8000/yr to attend.

          6. The $9k being too much is EXACTLY the topic of this conversation and thread, and it would be great if you could go take your lies and false information over to your own conversation.

          7. Nationwide high school by grouping:
          -21% of Asians fail to graduate
          -24% of whites fail to graduate
          -40% of blacks fail to graduate
          -42% of Latinos fail to graduate
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/high-school-graduation-ra_n_2194378.html

          8. "91 percent of the D.C. students who received the voucher scholarships graduated, according to lead researcher Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas. That's compared to a 70 percent graduation rate for the kids who hadn't won vouchers."
          http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-09/news/ct-edit-voucher-0909-bd-20120909_1_vouchers-paul-e-peterson-graduation-rates

          Brock you are a liar with an agenda.

          Moderators please remove Brock Hardwood from my conversation.
        • Jan 20 2013: @Petar
          you said:"1. Competition lowers prices because it takes away a monopolist's rent. Most everyone (except for you?) knows this."

          I aced my college economics. Did you? There are already 5,000 private schools, and the average cost for them is still $20K per year, with the top performers costing $40K

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

          "2. What do competitors do to out compete their opponents? They innovate. Most everyone (except for you?) knows this. "

          And still, with all that competition between 5,000 private schools, they still haven't been able to innovate a tuition that costs less than public schools while still providing the same level of academic standards.

          Point #3 relies on your misconceptions of points 1 & 2.

          "this is called economies of scale..."

          Economies of scale minimize the impact of fixed costs and costs associated with research - research being the most significant. With small schools, fixed costs are less because they can simply acquire a smaller building. In other words, fixed costs scale pretty smoothly with the size of the student body. Research in education theory is pretty much non existent. A teacher, a room, a chalkboard, textbooks, and students is the way it has been done for thousands of years, and it isn't going to change anytime soon.

          "The average cost for K-5 education is around...."

          Provide a source. Otherwise, you are lying.

          "6. The $9k being too much is..."
          Off topic. We are discussing vouchers as a solution (which they are not), not the cost in general.

          Point 7: true, but still off topic.

          "8. "91 percent of the D.C. students..."

          True, but private schools can graduate a student by whatever standards they wish, and it doesn't have to be much. You are comparing apples to oranges.

          "Moderators please remove..."

          This speaks volumes about you...You KNOW you are wrong, so you prefer censorship.
        • Jan 20 2013: You have your own conversation Brock, please be respectful of others and go there.
        • Jan 20 2013: @ Petar...

          A CONVERSATION involves more than one person...This is not your own private blog to fudge reality.

          When it comes to respect, you have none. You prefer to make character attacks rather than debate the topic. Of course, we both know that your position is weak, and maybe that is why you are doing it.

          I have no agenda other than to insure that the U.S. provides the most cost effective education while still maintaining curriculum standards. Public education costs a fraction of the price of private schools with similar results.
      • Jan 20 2013: Mike,
        Vouchers do not lead to more expensive private schools, Brock is lying through his teeth and he has an agenda.

        My opinions on vouchers come through the 20+ years of empirical research and studies done on vouchers, and their outcomes compared to the current public education system. The conversation on this topic started out very well until Brock showed up and started spamming every posters with lies and misinformation. This conversation was very productive up until Jan 10, when Brock started sabotaging everything.
        • Jan 20 2013: There have been plenty of studies, but they NEVER compare apples to apples.

          Private schools cost, on average, twice as much as public education, they have selective admission policies (they can choose to only admit proven academic performers), and they have non transparent curriculum standards (they can graduate someone based on low standards if they choose - artificially inflating their graduation rates).
  • 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, it would be like asking airline passengers to judge safety rather than the mechanics who actually look at the airplane parts and understand 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?
    • Jan 19 2013: Student success is a great idea...Which schools prepare students for college is my idea of the right standard. Private schools that cost $8,000(given that the known successful ones cost $40,000 per year) have yet to prove that they measure up...
      • Jan 20 2013: Back that up with facts and links with the evidence supporting your claim, else you are just lying again.

        The link you have already spammed about elite New York private schools is disingenuous, and does not provide any evidence towards your claim of "Private schools that cost $8,000(given that the known successful ones cost $40,000 per year) have yet to prove that they measure up... " So please do not spam that one again
    • Jan 20 2013: Ben,
      I want to be clear that we are talking about Japan, and if the Japanese government gave the citizens individual liberty to choose their own education. We are not talking about America or the UK.

      So in Japan, parents choose schools based on uniforms, just like how people judge books on their covers. Because the parents value nice uniforms, schools start trending towards nice uniforms to attract the parents. Is there methodology prioritizing education first? No, but that's the consequence of their decision. The educational results will be seen at the end of the year, and if the parents do not like the results, they can try another school that has good looking uniforms.

      The same exact example of this is found in vegetable sections of supermarkets. The more aesthetically pleasing fruits and vegetables are bought despite the taste. If it tastes bad, the buyers will be cautious buying from that stack again. So test scores and educational improvements revealed at the end of the week, month, year are factors that parents would take into consideration when choosing to continue or discontinue the education service they are using.

      Japan has a history, culture, and people from all other societies. Is a ruling elite herding Japanese sheep best for them? Maybe the Japanese elders all think that, and the youth thinks that once they are old and the system starts favoring them. You live in Japan, so you know more about the Japanese than I do. There will always be people who will be better off with a ruling elite making decisions for them. Maybe the Japanese fit into that category.

      America is predicated on individual god-given rights: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And education vouchers are a big improvement in getting towards those three things compared to the current government controlled and mandated education system.
      • Jan 20 2013: "So in Japan, parents choose schools based on uniforms..."

        Really? You think the Japanese are that absurd in their decision making process? That is simply ridiculous.

        You watch too many movies.
        • Jan 21 2013: actually some students do, yeah really! i've asked them myself. it what i mean about how it's a bad idea to give students the power to choose the way they are taught. it's an extreme case i know, and i don't mean all students will choose a school based on its uniform, but really what experience can students possibly draw from in order to know what they will need to know and where they should go to get the best education for them? better leave it in the hands of teachers, who are the only people who spend all day every day educating a huge variety of kids.
        • Jan 21 2013: page formatting making it hard to reply, please see below!
        • Jan 21 2013: yeah i agree, but i asked what you think about parents being involved in education policy. should parents be able to decide what kids learn and how they learn it? should school boards have the power to overrule teachers on things like textbooks and curriculum? and if so, under what basis would you deem them more competent than teachers in making those decisions?
          (reply to your post below)
      • Jan 21 2013: i'm not talking about japan, i'm talking about people anywhere.

        parents don't choose a school based on their uniform, but some students do. just think about your idea there - if the parents don't like the results at the end of the year they can choose another school - it's too late by that point, you're talking about a whole year of a child's development, and if they choose badly again next year too? you can't be enrolling all around the country all the time, that's why the best way is to make every school as good as it can possibly be, which means leaving it to the actual educators.

        i think u refute yourself with your apple analogy, remember that the best medicine tastes bitter! if you're choosing on appearance and taste, are you getting the best nutrition? are you also avoiding tasteless undesirables? there's a reason we goto restaurants, it's because chefs are really good at choosing food and cooking it. if we used the same food and the same recipe at home, of course it won't taste as good as when it's done by an expert. the same can be said for choosing education.

        from our discussion i'm getting the impression that your main objection is philosophical rather than rational - you don't like the idea that kids and parents not be in total control of the way they are educated - but that's actually a good thing. i'm not talking about japan or america or any place in particular, it's a usual, worldwide human thing to leave thing in the hands of professionals so you can have a better outcome. it's fine to put pilots in charge of flying the planes you ride, civil engineers in charge of designing the bridges you drive over, surgeons in charge of cutting you open, why not put teachers in charge of your education? of course they will take your own personal desires into account, and add to that their considerable expertise, which means that you get a much better education than you could have done if you were completely in charge.
        • Jan 21 2013: (responding to the post just above this one) "actually some students do, yeah really! "

          Naturally children make dumb choices, but my response wasn't about the kids choice, it was about the parents choice... My response started off with this quote from Petar:

          "So in Japan, parents choose schools based on uniforms..."

          note the word 'parents'
      • Jan 21 2013: right thanks for the clarification, wasn't sure if you were following petar's misunderstanding in what i was saying or not.

        interested on how you think about having parents involved in decisions regarding educational policy. do you think they too are apt to make dumb choices?
        • Jan 21 2013: Parents vote, for starters. They can also attend school board meetings, talk with teachers, etc...But the most important thing they can do, is ensure that their child is performing up to their expectations.

          Regardless of where a child goes to school, be it public or private, parents encouraging and demanding academic effort is the single greatest success factor by far.

          Another thing parents can do is take the time to understand what their children are learning in school. Rather than be upset that they are learning evolutionary theory, they should take the time to learn about it themselves from a scientific perspective. Naturally, I am not going to hold my breath while I wait for that to happen, but hope springs eternal....
  • Jan 16 2013: If tax payers are going to fund private education, don't we have a right to expect value for our money? That is, a right to expect a curriculum that prepares students for a 21st century economy? One that includes teaching science?

    Should the private schools that receive tax payer dollars be subject to curriculum certification from the state?

    The correct answers are all yes, but let's hear what you all have to say....
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      Jan 16 2013: No not at all, the government has killed this country with what it has done to public education and there is no reason to believe that the government would not turn private schools equally as destructive as they have done to public schools.
      • Jan 16 2013: If you don't have specific expectations from an education system, how can you claim it is failing?

        The obvious answer is that you can't.
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          Jan 17 2013: The US schools poor ranking in the world is such common knowledge, giving proof seemed redundant.

          But if you need proof just Google "US school world ranking".
      • Jan 19 2013: "The US schools poor ranking in the world is such common knowledge, giving proof seemed redundant."

        And yet, that would obviously require a measurement standard.... I am fine with public schools not doing so well in comparison around the globe, but if we are going to pretend that private schools are the answer, then they must be held to the exact same standard, and must be able to live up to the same test.
      • Jan 20 2013: @Petar,

        "Brock, here are statistics you have refused to acknowledge or read: "

        Tragic numbers, naturally. However, to say that the Dept. of Education has failed, fails to acknowledge that it's mission to educate EVERYBODY means that there will be failures. Not every family is capable of supporting and fostering an environment of learning. Educated parents tend to lead to educated children. It has only been 3 generations since the civil rights movement and the desegregation of schools. Change of that nature takes time and can be slow going.

        It is only a matter of time before we see those numbers improve.

        But, to get back on topic...Public education still costs half the price of a similar private education. Vouchers are a bad idea.
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      Jan 16 2013: The one point that has been passed over though out this discussion that you have addressed is the use of...Taxpayers Dollars! We have been using TPD to fund public education for a long time. Now, in the examination of education, we taxpayers are not getting a good ROI.
      1st question is: do taxpayers deserve a good ROI?
      If yes and in the matter of education,
      2nd question is: can we get a better a ROI from a voucher system?
      So far, in most of the responses and doing the math, the cost side is a little weak in the accounting.
      Now, most of the discussion has been on the quality of education in commercial vs. public education.
      Understandably, but unless the dollars get worked out, we could be discussing living in a smart broke country or a dumb rich country. So any accountants to weigh in?
      • Jan 16 2013: Mike,
        For Pennsylvania, vouchers would reduce education fees by 50%!

        The voucher programs running show that parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools.

        Government is especially failing in regard to inner city schools, minorities, and the poor. I don't have the drop out statistics link, nor the link for ~70% of minorities supporting vouchers. The lat real stronghold against vouchers comes from the rich and the elitist (whites) who want the poor and minorities to stay put in their zipcode.
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          Jan 16 2013: Petar,
          I have heard that there could be economic benefits from voucher programs. Where I am unsettled is that to effect a reduction in fiscal pressures on the local, state and federal governments, some monies will not be expended on education and used (wasted) elsewhere.
          Truism: Politicians like nature abhor a vacuum.
          In a voucher system, there will be parents who will see to an outstanding education for their children. There will be "parents" who will not and may even appropriate the voucher funds.
          In short order, there will be an outcry to save these children, committees will be formed, offices rented, administrators hired to fill the void left by the loss of public schools to get these children educated. These positions will be filled by the former public school administrators, who will soon enough find a way to expend all the monies saved by using vouchers.
          I know I am a cynic.

          PS,, Why is the Federal government in the K - 12 anyway????
        • Jan 16 2013: Petar said: "For Pennsylvania, vouchers would reduce education fees by 50%! "

          And private schools would STILL cost on average, 250% more than those vouchers... and 500% more for the really good private schools. Even in Pennsylvania, it is obvious that government can do it more efficiently, all while having transparent standards

          http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/22/private-school-tuition-hits-the-stratosphere-40-000-per-year/
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          Jan 16 2013: Private schools are very expensive... don't know, just saying but not many really rich kids out there to go to private schools, unit cost stuff, but if thousands of kids hit the market, the unit cost should fall dramatically. Just saying.
      • Jan 17 2013: Mike,
        my guess is that once vouchers are passed, the K-12 parents will vote for higher amounts of redistribution of wealth through education funding, effectively taking money away from the politicians. For federal government, yeah they need to stay out

        Brock, your spam has been refuted several times by multiple posters.

        Here are the links again:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew
        "Let me see if I can summarize: parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools... why would anyone be against this?"

        What don't you understand about economies of scales and competition?

        That two week old account of yours sure qualifies you to judge the readership of TED conversations. Good one!
        • Jan 19 2013: "Brock, your spam has been refuted several times."

          Not by you, or anybody for that matter...Vouchers do not save money for the taxpayer. The average cost for private school is twice that of public school with zero measurable improvements in performance... (given that private schools are not required to meet any curriculum standards.)

          Your problem, Petar, is that you think the ted readers are dumb. They are not.
    • Jan 16 2013: Vouchers by definition are public education because the government is funding the education. Parents putting money on top just creates a ratio.

      Students can choose to give their voucher to the public school they are already going to. They could even chose to use their vouchers to attend schools opened by the Department of Defense or by other arms of government.

      What vouchers do is change how education is funded. Instead of giving politicians money and funding schooling top down through layers of bureaucracy, the funding comes grass roots from the bottom up by giving the money and choice to the parents and students.
      • Jan 17 2013: "Vouchers by definition are public education because the government is funding the education."

        This is exactly why we, as tax payers, have a right to expect transparent standards and a curriculum that prepares students for a 21st century economy from private schools that receive tax dollars.
        • Jan 17 2013: America is "We the people" not "We the taxpayers". Much like politicians, aristocrats, and the ruling elite that believe they know what's best for everyone else, you are just chomping at the bit to find some way to shove your standards and values down everyone else's throat. What is it about individual liberty that you don't understand Brock? You are going to tell the Native Americans to conform to your White man values too? You already dodged the question about freeing slaves being a good decision, which speaks volumes.
      • Jan 19 2013: "You are going to tell the Native Americans to conform to your White man values too?"

        You are getting desperate. Private schools cost more than twice as much as public education, with no measurable difference in performance. Your entire ted conversation is an epic fail.

        "You already dodged the question about freeing slaves being a good decision, which speaks volumes."

        Freeing the slaves was a great thing...Now you can't use that BS argument anymore...You lose. The problem with you is that you actually think people are stupid. They are not. Most actually read my comments, and get that you are grasping at straws. You harm your own arguments and don't even realize it.

        TED readers can read all of my posts. Not one of them ever talked about slaves. You have now PROVEN yourself to be a liar.
        • Jan 20 2013: Now you answer the question after being called out.

          So freeing the slaves was a great thing, yet Americans should be slaves to a government education system? And the poor and de-facto ethnic minority communities should be forced to go to schools within their own zip code? That's still racist, Brock.

          What is it about individual liberty that you don't understand?
      • Jan 21 2013: "What is it about individual liberty that you don't understand?"

        You are more than welcome to spend your own money on a religious education. However, giving the poor a diploma that may as well be written on toilet paper doesn't help anybody. Private schools have no transparent curriculum standards. Sending kids to a school that will graduate kids for simply attending isn't a solution.
  • Jan 16 2013: Privatizing schools makes about as much sense as privatizing prisons. That is , it would create more problems than it would solve. And , as for "choices", the US has always had , along with "State's Rights" . a great deal of local control, by school boards. This approach has created many problems, such as over enthusiastic input by local visionaries, such as those who want their schools to get into the Religion business, via "creationism", which is an example of how they might handicap any students unfortunate enough to be stuck in such a "school". The argument for privatization is usually about money, "efficiency" , standards, etc. in other words, business like. But we are trying to educate the young to be members of a society, "family", even. Treating them like products is not the way to go.. And it would be hell for teachers. "Teaching to the test" is a feel-good delusion, and evaluating teachers via their stucents test scores is a disaster. It is entirely possible for an excellent teacher to show badly, depending on the students she gets, student's families, if any, etc. And the "politics" of a private school are not guaranteed to be any better than the present either, probably worse.
    Then there is the question of just what will "parents" (if any) do with their chunk of money. Suppose they spend it on cigarettes?! Remember , this is the next generation of voters you are talking about.l
    • Jan 16 2013: Shawn,
      Vouchers are not about privatizing the schools! Vouchers are about parents and students funding the public schools by choosing to go to them.
      Right now politicians spend $458.3 billion a year to decide when, what, where, and how your K-12 students learn. This East German education system of politicians calling the shots from high has failed.

      Vouchers put that $458.3 billion into the hands of the K-12 students and parents. And the parents and students decide who, when, what, where, and how their children learn.

      Vouchers change the financing mechanism of public education by making funding for education grassroots and bottoms up, coming from the people.

      So what happens with vouchers is the public school sets a price equal to the vouchers, the K-12 students that are American citizens get their $8000 of cash for their yearly education, then the student can choose to give that money to the public school.
      • Jan 17 2013: "Right now politicians spend $458.3 billion a year to decide when, what, where, and how your K-12 students learn."

        Actually, 458.3 Billion is the cost of the entire education system that servers 50 million children, to include administrative costs. It is not the cost of decision making. If private schools provided the same amount of education, serving the same number of children, at the current average tuition charged by private schools of 20K, education would cost 1 Trillion dollars. (50 million children * $20,000 = $1 Trillion)

        So much for the efficiency of private industry.
        • Jan 17 2013: Brock, your spam has been refuted several times. The market is distorted by a government monopoly providing "free" education. What don't you understand about economies of scales and competition?

          You already dodged the question about freeing slaves being a good decision, which speaks volumes.
      • Jan 19 2013: "You already dodged the question about freeing slaves being a good decision, which speaks volumes."

        TED readers can read all of my posts. Not one of them ever talked about slaves. You have now PROVEN yourself to be a liar.

        Freeing the slaves was a great thing...Now you can't use that BS argument anymore...You lose. The problem with you is that you actually think people are stupid. They are not. Most actually read my comments, and get that you are grasping at straws. You harm your own arguments and don't even realize it.
        • Jan 20 2013: Now you answer the question after being called out.

          So freeing the slaves was a great thing, yet Americans should be slaves to a government education system? And the poor and de-facto ethnic minority communities should be forced to go to schools within their own zip code? That's still racist, Brock.

          What is it about individual liberty that you don't understand?
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      Jan 16 2013: Shawn,
      I am lost on the problems with private prisons. I understand that there are successful private prisons all over.

      Public Education has always been a local endeavor and until about 50 years ago, it was a pretty good system when compared to other schools systems around the world. Then the Federal Department of Education came on board to resolve the issues of segregated education. Once that problem was sort of resolved, they expanded into providing an equal education for all at a common level and provided funds to make that happen. Now, I am not privy to the full effects of standardized tests, dumbing down standards,
      no child left behind, which I think means that a child can't fail his grade.
      So now we have public schools collecting local school property tax, state education lottery receipts, as well as federal funds, All this money and what to do. Well, too many public school systems figured out that raising the learning curve was hard, but expanding the bureaucracy was easy, Now, the are school districts that have nearly 50% of their employees not teachers and they are still looking for more money.

      So, will school vouchers improve children's education at a lower cost thus saving tax funds and by extension the fiscal crisis our government is in?
      Can't hurt.
      • Jan 17 2013: Mike said: "So, will school vouchers improve children's education at a lower cost thus saving tax funds and by extension the fiscal crisis our government is in?
        Can't hurt."

        Yes, as a matter of fact, it CAN HURT.

        Private schools have not been shown to improve education.
        Private schools, on average, cost more than twice as much per student ($20K vs $9K)
        Private schools have no curriculum standards, meaning that the tax payers simply don't know what they are buying. Public schools are accountable to your elected school board.

        Vouchers are a bad idea.
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          Jan 17 2013: Sorry Brock,
          I am not sure you said what I understood.
          There are public schools that do a great job as there are private schools that do the same.
          But, the overall quality of our national education system is way down the list of industrialized nations and even some "Third World" counties according to UN observations.
          25% of students who start K never pass 12, The next 25% who do are functional illiterates,
          The next 25% can be functional adults, and 25% gain great knowledge, sometimes I think in spite of attending public schools. I don't blame teachers for this situation. As a large group of professionals, some are brilliant, most do a good job and a few should be out catching dogs and that is true of most large groups of professionals. I blame the ego centric bureaucracy of public education who are more concerned with it's own growth then the outcome of the students. The mantra of give us more money and we'll do a better job is getting old.
          Further, how can you possibly think that parents who have accumulated wealth to afford 40 or 50K per year for their children's education and pay for a substandard result. These same people who will return a 500 Mercedes because the glove box is a 1/16 off. I am sure those kids are getting good schooling.
          Elected school boards? Aren't they supposed to insure the public their children are getting a better education then nearly number 30 on the world list?

          Vouchers? I am not sure they are as fiscally curative or educationally superior as Petar holds, but I am sure they can't be any worse then the status quo
        • Jan 20 2013: Mike,
          Brock must be paid to post here. After lying about his main concern being religion, now he is onto lying about costs and economics.

          Summary of the testimony by Senator Piccola:
          "Let me see if I can summarize: parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools... why would anyone be against this?"
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew
      • Jan 19 2013: "Vouchers? I am not sure they are as fiscally curative or educationally superior as Petar holds, but I am sure they can't be any worse then the status quo"

        they CAN be worse than the status quo for exactly the reasons you stated...They are not educationally superior, and they cost twice as much.
        • Jan 20 2013: Brock, vouchers have been proven to be better by empirical results.

          Meta-analysis:
          "out of 17 studies examining how vouchers affect academic achievement in public schools, 16 showed improvement. None showed that vouchers harm public schools. The review found that "every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public school."

          Washington DC longitudinal study:
          "In Washington, D.C., the young Opportunity Scholarship Program "significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school," according to the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Both parents and students reported higher satisfaction and rated schools safer if the student was offered an OSP scholarship."

          Milwaukee longitudinal study:
          "Dr. John Warren of the University of Minnesota found that students in the MPCP had an 82% graduation rate in 2009, compared with 70% in Milwaukee Public Schools. MPCP ranked higher than MPS in graduation rate in six of the seven years in the study. A report from the University of Arkansas estimated that MPCP saved taxpayers $37.2 million in 2009, because the size of the voucher is significantly smaller than per-pupil spending in MPS."
  • Jan 15 2013: Being 100 % Parts Supply Dependent on foreign parts supply is something that if is not rebalanced and the most important parts manufacturing retooled domestically so SERFDOM is not what we evolve into then no amount of education matters .
    • Jan 16 2013: Tony,
      Wasn't serfdom when knights and lords ran self sufficient castles without much trade?
  • Jan 15 2013: You stated: "*The yearly education check allows students(and their parents) to choose how, when, where, and what they learn, and also who teaches them".

    Parents already have the ability to choose how, when, where, and what their kids learn. It is called home schooling. There are thousands of families in each state who homeschool their children.

    And, even though homeschooled children are not using the public school funds, their parents continue to pay taxes that fund public education. You would think that this extra money floating around would help with the economy right?
    • Jan 15 2013: Mary, homeschooling is wonderful and it is completely unfair that they pay taxes into a system they do not benefit from.

      With vouchers, home schooling parents with 2 students would be getting that $16000 of voucher money going directly into their pocket every year. That $16,000 is likely to be spent by the parents on their children.

      I think putting $8000 of education money into the hands of the parents and students opens a $400B/yr market for education.

      Do you think home schooling parents would benefit if they received $8000/yr/student to assist in their education efforts?
      • Jan 15 2013: Petar, although it sounds wonderful...this $8,000 /yr/student, I doubt it would ever evolve the way you see it.

        I'll tell you a quick experience from when I started my career.

        The state I live in decided to promote the idea of a lottery. Do you know how they got the voters to pass the law allowing lotteries? The "powers that be" promised the voters that the money collected from the lottery would help fund education, and that every teacher would have the materials she needed to teach effectively. Schools would lack nothing!!! All the teachers and parents were so excited, and they all got in line to vote for a lottery.

        Well, guess what? The lottery law passed.....it's been over 20 years since our state has a lottery.
        Sadly, the education system is now worse than ever. Because as soon as the money started coming in from the lottery, the budget for education was reduced.

        It's like the prices on goods in the stores during the early part of the year. All the merchants know people will be getting tax refund checks, so what do they do? They raise the prices on merchandise.

        This also happens at the beginning of each month, when people get their food stamps and welfare checks. Food prices magically go up the first week of each month....hmmmm I wonder why?

        We live in a selfish world, run by imperfect humans. Power corrupts, money corrupts, and although your idea is a wonderful one Petar, I know you gave it alot of thought. Nevertheless, money is just that, money. It comes and goes. And education is a life long thing, not dependent on schools.

        Homeschooling families are very special. Parents take on the task to homeschool motivated by love of their childen, not by a check from the government. A homeschool education is in a sense, "priceless".

        Thank you for letting me share my personal view on your topic.
    • Jan 16 2013: Mary,
      I am quite certain the $8000, $16000, $24000 would have greatly assist in educating your children. Would you misappropriate it as a homeschooler?! Cheat your own children?!

      The government should stop fleecing home schoolers, but respect and assist homeschoolers by sending a check that represents the amount$/child not used in public schooling.

      Your story with the lottery is another great example of what happens when politicians are given money! If that lottery money was distributed evenly to all K-12 students and added on top of the $8000 voucher, more money to parents and students that would likely go to education.

      Power corrupts, and money corrupts, yes I completely agree. More money, more power, more corruption. That is why it is absolutely necessary to get $458.3 billion dollars of education money out of the hands of a few politicians! Power and money belong in the hands of the people, not in the hands of politicians!
      • Jan 16 2013: Petar, you might choose to believe that the money would be out of the hands of the politicians.

        In reality, this might not be the case at all.
      • Jan 19 2013: $16,000 or $24,000 would double or triple the cost of education, with no measurable gains (given that private schools aren't held to any curriculum standards). You are destroying your own argument that vouchers save money.

        "out of the hands of a few politicians..."

        We elected those politicians, and they gave us an education system that costs half the price of private schools, achieves similar results, all while having transparent curriculum standards.
        • Jan 20 2013: Brock:
          One student: $8000
          Two students: $16000
          Three students: $24000
          $8000 per student.

          Are you being paid to post by a teachers union? Who is paying you to spin, spread lies and post misinformation here?
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    Jan 15 2013: What about the third alternative to public schools and vouchers... online schools. We've touch on this matter, but on reflection I believe that it resolves many or the problems of brick and mortar schools. Online schools can reach all the way down the economic ladder.... even the poorest of us have iphones, Unit cost would be negligible. Now, on the down side... hands on classes ie science labs, industrial arts are problematic. Science labs can be deferred to brick and mortar universities. Industrial Arts can be learned in apprentice programs with local businesses. Could it work?
    • Jan 15 2013: Mike,
      Online schools are great. Vouchers are just handing $8000 of cash into the hands of the parents and students, they use that money to buy home schooling, online schooling, tutoring, an apprenticeship or an internship. They don't have to choose a school. Most of the commentators here are so locked into the idea of "schooling" and "schools" they simply can't wrap their heads around an open education market: anything goes. It's like the East Germans asking if the private industry can run better cafeterias. Food services is not just cafeterias. Education is not just schooling.

      For science and arts, garage inventors and artists in studios could offer classes to students. The art niche would be filled very quickly by freelance artists.
    • Jan 15 2013: Online schools are great for college students that already have the discipline to do well in school, but beyond that, there just isn't enough data to know whether or not it would work for young children. Children without a strong support system at home would probably fail completely, which is why many currently fail now. We still need brick and mortar science labs, and children still need to interact with each other to some degree.
  • Jan 14 2013: Vouchers are just another tax break for the wealthy.

    They claim that the poor will finally be able to attend the same schools as the children of wealthy families, but it simply isn't true. Top private school tuition can cost as much as $40,000 a year. An $8,000 voucher leaves poor families $32,000 short of ever being able to send their kids to the same school. This is $32,000 they don't have, and as such would never be able to take advantage of it.

    There are schools that cost significantly less, but they simply can't afford to provide a robust and flexible curriculum tailored to the individual strengths and weaknesses of each student, nor can they adequately prepare your children for college. For them, it is simply more cost effective to buy 30 bibles and teach theology, then it is to build fully functioning physics, chemistry, and biology labs and staff them with knowledgeable teachers.

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/22/private-school-tuition-hits-the-stratosphere-40-000-per-year/
    • Jan 15 2013: Every comment you make is completely false Brock. Your spreading of lies is motivated by an anti-religious hate agenda and it is getting old.

      -Tax money comes from high income earners, big ticket buyers, and profitable companies. Vouchers are taking money away in the form of taxes from the wealthy and redistributing 99% of it to the 99%. It takes money from the rich and puts it into the hands of the poor.
      -Vouchers give $8000 to the poor to spend on education instead of $0 they currently get .
      -Vouchers give the poor the opportunity to choose any public school. The poor are currently locked into a public school by zip code.
      -$8000 a student; 10 students is $80,000. 1000 hours of instructional teaching is $80/hr for a group tutor on 10 students.

      Do you understand that food stamps are not designed so the poor can eat in 5-star hotel lobbies every day?

      It's quite sad that you feel disgusted that Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus providing their children with a religious education. Jefferson wrote extensively on how government should not interfere with religion, and here you are trying to mandate the stopping of religious education? "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". With vouchers, all of your blind-faith Atheists will finally have a market to open schools for Atheists.

      What is it about religious liberty and freedom that you don't understand Brock?
      • Jan 15 2013: "Tax money comes from high income earners..."

        That is partly true, but it is irrelevant.

        "Vouchers give $8000 to the poor to spend on education instead of $0 they currently get ."

        If the poor can't afford the remaining tuition, it gives them nothing.

        "Vouchers give the poor the opportunity to choose any public school."

        And then funds that school with less money. From your numbers, current public school costs $9,166. Your entire argument is that vouchers save money. They simply don't.

        "What is it about religious liberty and freedom that you don't understand Brock?"

        You are more than welcome to fund your own religious choices with your own personal income.
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      Jan 15 2013: How is it a tax break, it is their taxes that is pays for 70% of the education cost.
      Oh yes giving them back a little so their kids can pays the education cost of you grandkids is totally wrong.
      • Jan 15 2013: It isn't too hard to understand. The wealthy are the only ones than can effectively use them, hence it is a benefit for wealthy people - a tax rebate in a sense. I'm not making a morality statement, just a statement of fact. I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not we should spend more to help the poor or more to help the rich.
        • Jan 16 2013: Brock this is pretty simple...

          Education doesn't cost 40,000 a year just because thats what Andover charges for it... and if you think that our entrepreneurial community can't figure out a way to educate grade school students for under ten thousand a year then you haven't been paying much attention to what this website is about... Also for people who would prefer to send their kids to a school that costs 20k they're still having to take into consideration that the true cost is closer to 30k because they're still paying taxes towards a system they aren't using.

          The most compelling point I think about vouchers is that it removes the monopoly the federal government has on our most precious resource, namely the developing minds of our youth... and just like they taught me in public schools growing up... when real competition doesn't exist the consumer suffers and that is the most basic truth about why our education system is subpar.
        • Jan 16 2013: Zac I'm afraid the real reason our education system is subpar is that our sociiety does not value it., except perhaps as an employment and babysitting device. Why do you think that Jewish and Asian students do so well? It is not "nature", it is their culture., Which we simply do not share very much.. In Ancient China, "Scholars" were considered to be the elite.. Businessmen were lumped in with the trash collectors. I'm not saying we should imitate that, but it gives some background to the discussion.
        • Jan 16 2013: Zac, excellent comment
          Day care centers 6:30-18:30 are $200 a week? $8000 voucher, 40 weeks? That takes care of K-5.

          Brock,
          Do you want to regulate supermarkets to make sure people don't buy Kosher food with their food stamps?

          Shawn,
          With vouchers, Jews and Asians who are American citizens would be free to choose to use their $8000 of voucher money at schools run by people that actually value education. No longer would they be forced into a public school attended by and run by non-Asian and non-Jew politicians, teachers, students, and parents who don't value education. What are your thoughts on that?
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    Jan 14 2013: Considering the majority of any school’s financing come from local tax revenue, it seems to me this conversation off target.

    So about the federal government getting totally out of offline education, and restricted to online only.
    Cities and states run offline schools as they see fit, and use the national online education system as they see fit.

    With a national online K-12+ a grade-A would meaningful no matter what offline school you attended.
    In fact going to a poor school should make an online-A even more meaningful.
    • Jan 14 2013: Actually, Petar's numbers ARE local numbers, summed up across the nation. Local governments are the right place to add it up, as those numbers still reflect money spent that was received from both federal and state governments.
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        Jan 14 2013: I stand corrected, Thanks

        Is there any rules/laws preventing states or cities from switching to vouchers?
  • Jan 14 2013: $8,000 seems like it would save us money....The problem is this:

    The average cost of private school is $20,000 a year. Of course, the really good ones can cost more than $40,000 a year.

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

    Public education makes sense. The results are similar, yet costs (according to Petar's ted conversation: $458.3 billion / 50 million K-12 students ) are only $9,166
    • Jan 14 2013: Brock,
      I chose $8000 as a bare minimum to have fun with frugality. It's easy as pie when every K-12 student is handed $20,000 a year for 1,000 instructional hours of learning.

      If the voucher money was set to $20,000, then everyone would have the money to attend a secular private school at the current elitist prices. That might make vouchers more appealing to you. Then secular schools would have a market and could scale. They can't right now because government has a monopoly on education.

      When the government ran the food service industry in East Germany, there were upscale restaurants for the political elite. This mimics the private schooling prices in America. The American education system is socialist, centrally planned, and run by the politicians just like the East German schooling and food cafeterias.

      Central planners and socialists believed the population was better off with government running cafeterias for the entire country. They thought the population would starve if the food service industry was opened to the market. They brought up the same concerns people do here: The rich and greedy will rob, steal, and cheat the vulnerable. The poor are helpless. The masses are stupid. The masses are too incompetent. Government provides healthier food than parents can for their own children. Government knows better than parents what's good for their children to eat. The result was starvation and malnutrition.

      The natural experiment in governing policies fared much better in West Berlin... but those results were unseen by everyone blocked by the wall, and the same things are unforeseen with changing the American education system.

      Turning America away from East German education requires:
      -Government to finance education, but not manage, not operate.
      -Politicians removed from education money and decisions.
      -Education money and liberty put into the hands of the parents and students so they can choose when, what, where, how, and who teachers them.
      • thumb
        Jan 14 2013: Peter,,
        I liked your your comments and comparisons to East Germany, I lived in West Germany from the mid 80's until 05. I got to look over the fence when it was up and again when it was down. Here is what I observed. The USSR was seen here as a dictatorship. They said they were a workers socialist government looking out for the working class (middle class?). What I saw was " Plato's Republic "
        in it's worse form. Is there a lesson here for all of us?
        • Jan 14 2013: That money and choice belongs in the hands of the people, and not in the hands of the state?
      • Jan 14 2013: The point is, Petar, vouchers do not reduce the cost of education, they increase it. This is the heart of your key argument - an argument which fails miserably. Sure, we can increase the voucher to 20k, but that destroys your entire ted-conversation argument.

        It is clear that government is capable of operating more efficiently than the private sector when it comes to education. It achieves similar results as private institutions, all the while maintaining open admissions and providing more choices for the students. All for less than half the price of a private education.

        You can try to drum up classic Soviet fears, but it is free market economics where you fail. It simply costs less to continue with public education. 9k is less than 20k. The math is clear, your ted-conversation argument is moot.

        Checkmate.
        • Jan 15 2013: Quit lying Brock.

          You write with an agenda to undermine religion, and your anti-religious bigotry is coming out quite nicely. It's unbelievable that moderators have not removed you from this conversation.

          You wrote earlier "Properly funded public schools out perform private schools." So I raised the price of vouchers to $20,000 to see your response. And what did you do? You start lying. You are again twisting my words, spinning my context, replying to comments designated for me with patently false information, and lying about math not adding up.

          You do not write out of good faith, or out of curiosity, or out of desire to improve education. You are blinded by a religious-hate agenda.
      • Jan 16 2013: How can you accuse me of lying when it is YOUR numbers that I am using? YOU are the one that claims vouchers will allow poor kids to attend the same schools as the wealthy. We both know that is impossible given the outrageous costs of an elite private education($40k+). More than that, we also both know that is impossible given the cost of an average private education($20k).

        Increasing vouchers to $20k increases the cost of education. Once again, this is based on YOUR numbers. It is almost as if you were incapable of understanding your OWN arguments.

        It is not my agenda to undermine religion, it is YOUR agenda to use tax dollars to fund it. I am simply defending the establishment cause of the 1st amendment. You, however, are mocking it.
  • Comment deleted

    • Jan 13 2013: I remember I've seen similar statistics while reading the paper

      "A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice" by Cohen, March, Olsen.

      If you read it and then look for its references, you may find what Brock Hardwood quoted.
      • Comment deleted

        • Jan 13 2013: Yes, you're right. That's unfortunate, It was a long time ago last time I opened it.
  • Jan 12 2013: I agree with you there, Petar. To say that public schools save more money than private ones, including the church schools, is simply false accounting. The costs in K-12 public schools include, beside the buildings, facilities and staff salaries, also carrying the burden of the cost of several layers of area superintendents and local school board, the state education board and the Federal Department of Education. Furthermore, I am hesitant to agree that the students from the modern day K-12 public schools are any better than those in the old times when there weren't much government "supervision" over the private schools with very few or no paid counselors, compliance officers, etc. Also, most of the studies on the students' skill test scores comparing private against public schools involve more non-religious private schools than church operated schools. So that's not an important issue.
    In my opinion, all the intervention and "supervision" in the form of mandate from the state and federal government do not contribute to the useful learning of the students, only add economic expenses for the K-12 education system.
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    Jan 12 2013: After reading this myriad of comments concerning vouchers solving fiscal crisis, it seems that the conversation has evolved into the quality of education provided. Here comes the BUT! Whether government gives funds in the form of public schools or vouchers, it is simply redistributing funds. Fiscal crisis comes when governments commit more funds then they collect in taxes. Too often we forget that government does not generate wealth. In theory, we pay taxes for the government to provide services that we don't provide for our selves. For example, rather then stand outside the front of our house with a hose all the time we pay taxes to support a fire department. What all this has to do with schools.
    Public schools were imposed on early America by the government to insure the citizens would know how the government works and keep it continuing, a noble cause. It was to be funded by the value of 1/36th of each township. Today that is known as school property tax on land. It was not all that well received. At the time, fathers would teach their son on how to farm, or blacksmith or run a shipping line. If more education was wanted to be provided there were private academies or universities to provide that service.
    So, here we are today, public schools take land tax, state general revenues and lottery receipts, a lot of money. and the "fiscal crisis" it has generated and provides a arguably poor quality of performance. As many as 25% of the children that go into K aren't there as the end of 12. It's like the fire department have 25% of the houses burn down.
    Now will changing funding from public schools to a voucher system resolved the fiscal problems of states, etc.
    I see our fiscal crisis as the Titanic and public schools and vouchers as deck chairs.
    • Jan 12 2013: Mike, good summary.
      The answer was provided very quickly about solving the fiscal crises, federal and state:
      *For the federal overspend and crisis, the K-12 education is a drop in the bucket
      *For state overspend and fiscal crisis, K-12 vouchers solve the state fiscal crisis.

      For leading an economic recovery, this has not been discussed. Vouchers and an open education market would create a job market for at least 10,000,000 tutors.
  • Jan 12 2013: Your goal is to spare money and stimulate economy, but the fact is that there are hidden assumption in your reasoning, which is that the new educational system of choice is equivalent or better than the previous one in preparing the individual. If you don't prove this assumption, you may risk to produce more half-prepared/half-matured students or scarcely effective entrepreneurs. In fact nowadays the educational system has a big role into shaping the mind of a young guy, unlike in the past when the family nucleus had it.


    The story you tell us may even look great, but one should be cautious before taking such a decision.. ..if you do choose wrong is the education and grow up of millions of people to be affected by it, and will take a lot of time to recover. Even communism and "invisible hand of the market" work greatly in theory, but then one looks at the practice and see that in one case people mindset didn't react as expected, in the other there are well-known externalities and "market failures" that require further solutions. And when one asks: what do we do about it? People nods and answers "nothing".

    Does exist a country with only private schools that uses this system? Because you can't compare performances of private schools in USA, when they live along public schools and can allow themselves to select students on their state.. ..I'm sure they don't leave out the rich guys nor the clever guys to whom certainly there are already scholarships, so having good performances over all is not much surprising.

    To me you're too much hysterically oriented toward "efficiency and better marks", like the current mania toward PIL as a measure of wealth. Sometimes one has to realize that things are just good enough, you grow up with this system and even though you may have not been the most brilliant guy in the classroom or in the country you don't say that you're useless or unworthy for your country. So let it be, for the certainty of goodness of current results.
    • Jan 12 2013: This is an intriguing thought.

      I feel that there is a place for private schools and charter schools, as well as home-schooling, in society as a whole. We must not forget that public schooling is still the backbone of most education systems, including the United States.

      The fervor around charter schools and vouchers is admirable until we look at the issues with those types of schools. I have read research, and I apologize for not citing it, that suggests that a student will do roughly the same in both types of education, public and private, and there is no real advantage, especially if they are middle or upper levels of background and ability. The advantage can come from the low income/low performing students.

      If we want to cater to those who are most deserving, or most in need of this assistance, we must cater to the low income populations, where vouchers, charters, etc. can have the greatest impact on improving their lives. Yet, this is the place that is least served by educational opportunities. The good programs don't go into those areas. And, more importantly, even though the programs may be valuable, the kids can't get to the schools in any easy manner. Access becomes the greatest challenge. So, changing the manner in which education is presented is wonderful, but if you aren't going to change the "where" then the issue will only compound itself. Those who can most benefit won't and the gaps will increase.
    • Jan 12 2013: Voucher research study results for Everett and Robert:

      Meta-analysis:
      "out of 17 studies examining how vouchers affect academic achievement in public schools, 16 showed improvement. None showed that vouchers harm public schools. The review found that "every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public school."

      Washington DC longitudinal study:
      "In Washington, D.C., the young Opportunity Scholarship Program "significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school," according to the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Both parents and students reported higher satisfaction and rated schools safer if the student was offered an OSP scholarship."

      Milwaukee longitudinal study:
      "Dr. John Warren of the University of Minnesota found that students in the MPCP had an 82% graduation rate in 2009, compared with 70% in Milwaukee Public Schools. MPCP ranked higher than MPS in graduation rate in six of the seven years in the study. A report from the University of Arkansas estimated that MPCP saved taxpayers $37.2 million in 2009, because the size of the voucher is significantly smaller than per-pupil spending in MPS."

      Senate testimony elaborating on the voucher studies and research methodology:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew

      Summary of the above testimony by Senator Piccola:
      "Let me see if I can summarize: parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools... why would anyone be against this?"
      • Jan 12 2013: Man, I've read the entire discussion and already have seen those research papers.

        You should really read my counter-argument again.
        What you brought here is of no use and no help.
        • Jan 12 2013: The assumption you gave me: "...which is that the new educational system of choice is equivalent or better than the previous one in preparing the individual."

          Facts about school voucher (school choice) programs shown from studies over the last 20 years:
          "Let me see if I can summarize: parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools..."

          Did I miss something?
      • Jan 13 2013: Yes, you missed the second part of my post. Either you're blind and can't see it, or you want to hide the pitfalls of your proposal.

        "Let's give a check to every student and let the invisible hand of the market get the best out of it" is just naive as a child could ever come up with an idea. How do you deal with "Market Failure" in educational system, when it will arise? (Because IT WILL arise as in any other field, where at least is much less important)

        You can't claim you spare money unless you prove that the externalities of this new system will require less money from the public state than the current externalities.

        You can't compare results measured in the current reality, with a totally different one. Those reports only prove that Private Schools offer ALONG Public Schools offer is a good combination.

        You still did not demonstrate why we ever need to change system, if ever. Can students performances REALLY become significantly better, just because you change the school system? Or are there psychological aspects, societal aspects, that no system can control itself? You're just assuming the mindset of people will play well along your new system. That's the error communist made, and even the public school system: or do you think they knew from the beginning that low-inspired teachers and students don't keen to study will show up sooner or later?


        As my teacher of Innovation and Entrepreneurship said, a good measure of choice is when the guy offering a new idea does know all the reasons his new product may fail to be found keen from the potential customers, why people mindset may react different from expected, how market competition could make things go wrong, how all the venture capital money may be doomed to be wasted. You don't criticize your own product, that's a big clue for failure.
        • Jan 14 2013: Robert,
          The reason why education is such a strong topic is because the centrally planned K-12 education of America has failed! So we are already dealing with the market failure of K-12 education. So how did the Soviets deal with market failure of their centrally planned market? How did the East Germans deal with the market failure of their centrally planned market? They moved towards free markets.

          Free markets were the solution for the failed states of central planning. Free markets resulted in the countries being better off. I project the same exact thing will happen when American moves towards free market education, and move away from their failed centrally planned education system. More choice, more freedom, better education, better prices... North Korea stayed centrally planned.

          The 20 studies demonstrate that vouchers are better, but you seem to be so mesmerized by the current system you won't believe the facts stated in those studies: "parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools..."

          Did your Innovation and Entrepreneurship teacher teach you about product development? There is a phase called idea generation. You must have been asleep?
      • Jan 14 2013: Your "The reason why ... etc" is an Ex-Post story reading. The premise does not imply the conclusion in any reasonable way.

        First "Market Failure" refers to the failures of free market, not to the failures of economy with central planning, which have a different name. This concept and keyword is well known, so I assume that for the third time you have been able to avoid my question once again, in a deliberate fashion.

        As a side note, most of those regions which had "planned economy" nowadays are far away from "free markets", and certainly are not in a good shape.. ..I will assume you took this example but you didn't really meant it.

        Please, remind me in which statement I've ever praised the current system so much to look mesmerized for it. I certainly didn't. What I've done so far is constructively criticize your suggestion, not do demolish it, but rather to see if it is feasible in practice.

        The last statement is very impolite from you, but I saw this coming. I won't complain, although I ask myself what you're doing here if you are the kind of guy which questions the competence of others when they don't agree with you.


        Looking at the over all discussion of this page and other posts, I now understand that either I can't explain myself or you don't want to hear what I say. In any case, there's no benefit in trying again to let you see what I can see with my own eyes. Therefore, I quit without any real answer to my questions. Good luck.
        • Jan 14 2013: Robert, constructive?
          1. Your comment about Ex-Soviet states is completely asinine. East Germans, Eastern Europeans, and even Russians suffered terribly in the Soviet Union.
          2. Market failure is about inefficiencies in market places. Not about "failures". What do you think a business does when there is an inefficiency? They fix it or go out of business.
          3. I gave you facts that undermine the entire assumptions of your posts, you have chosen to not believe those studies. Those are gold standard voucher studies.
          4. As pointed out by Varlan, your use of a study "A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice" which you even say you are ignorant about, was bullshit and unrelated to K-12 education.
          5. Criticizing is destructive by the very definition. Have your clueless "innovation" teacher read Napoleon Hill. It's called "constructive suggestion", and idea generation phases are solely for idea generation, not the brainless "what if" "what if" perfect solution fallacy scenarios. What if there is an inefficiency somewhere? Fix it. "What about problems" Fix them. You are using this as an endless loop and simply justifying your own emotions because you are worried about the unknowns just like all the communists who never saw what was on the other side of the wall.
          6. Now that you "quit" further remarks would make you dishonest.
      • Jan 14 2013: As I said, I quit the argument. But I may be eligible at least to answer your point.
        1. Never said that those countries did not suffer under Soviet Union (nor the contrary). In fact I didn't even mention the Soviet Union.
        2. Not really.
        3. Not really.
        4. I said "similar statistics" and "may find", I gave no certainty since I was aware that it was long time since the last time I read it and I did not want to check it out. Hence I knew it could have been not related and made it clear through those words. I just wanted to help out Varian, by the way. In addition, I never used that document to sustain any of my arguments.
        5. No need for a reply.
        6. I took note of it, thank you.
  • Jan 12 2013: I have several question regarding these numbers.

    1. Where does this $458 Billion come from?
    2. What will the $8,000 cover? Why $8,000?
    3. Does this amount include all funding in education such as local, state, and federal?
    4. Will this amount be the same for "normal" students as well as special needs students?
    5. What changes will occur in schooling? Such as, will we continue to allow high needs special education students in at $8,000? What about medically fragile or students who are incapable of advancing past a certain education level due to disability, injury, or other reason?

    The issues with vouchers, or a "money follows the student" plan, is that they rarely consider the student. High functioning, highly intelligent students can cost a chunk of change for advanced programming. However, students with disabilities cost far more due to the support required to educate them. The education system also require all students to attend a school, regardless of disability or even criminal background. Public schools currently provide for these variances in ways that voucher schools will not be able to even consider.
    • Jan 12 2013: Everett,
      1. American local government spending for all K-12 education in 2012 was $458.3 billion. Government gets the money through property tax, business tax, payroll tax and sales tax. The politicians allocate the capital.
      2. $8000 is $8000 in cash the government sends to all K-12 students. It would cover anything you could buy with it. I used $8000 because it keeps the monetary amount constant; the average K-12 cost per student in Pennsylvania is over $12,000.
      3. The $458.3 billion is local government spending.
      4. Yes, simply redistributing the education funds into the hands of the K-12 students and parents so they are free to choose their education pathway.
      5. The change would be opening up the entire education industry; America's education now is like when East Germany forced all citizens to eat in the same government food cafeterias. When the Berlin Wall fell, the food services market opened up. Vouchers cause Americans Berlin Wall of schooling to fall --- plus $8000 per K-12 student for students to spend on education. Restaurants opened up to serve and cater to every facet of Post-Soviet society, same will happen opening the education market in America.

      Public schools are already ill-prepared, and not designed for Special needs, medically fragile, and disabled.
      High functioning and high gifted are one of the most undeserved groups by public education because teachers know they won't be "left behind". Public schools are doing a disservice to special needs kids because they rob special need caretakers from having a market to set up schools for them.

      Vouchers ($8k, $9k, $12k) opens up the education market so schools that cater to special needs students can open. Same for education services to the high functioning. It's open and they an education check from the government to spend as they see fit. Vouchers allow students to choose any public school. They can choose to use the $8000 at the public school.
      • Jan 13 2013: First, I dispute your $458 billion number. The site you are using as a source doesn't have this amount for "local" government. It cites $511.2 billion coming from local sources. That is only the local sources, not the state or federal amounts, and I question how they came about that number. The Federal and State numbers, when added, give a total of $822.8 billion as a final number for 2012. This is based on the site you are referencing:

        http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2012USbn_13bs1n_20#usgs302

        That nearly doubles your $8,000 per student voucher system.

        Your hypothesis is based on several assumptions, yet you don't back it up with evidence. First, that private education or charter education is better than public education. Second, that an open, privatized market is better for all students. Third, that private markets always do better than public ones.

        The most inaccurate comment in this statement, is that public schools are ill-prepared and not designed for the needs of special needs students. No one is truly prepared for these students. They are individual and unique and need personalized education in many instances. However, if the private systems did so much better educating them, most would be in private education. Public education is able to pull in the variety of specialists and resources to support these students. All of which comes at a financial cost, mostly born by the public tax dollar. Sped classes are required to max out a 12 students. Private schools don't deal with sped students unless they are high functioning. From experience, private schools won't accept sped students. Private programs are not available because they are wildly expensive to get specialists in one spot and willing to support these students. You think there are issues now, give schools the option to not accept these students and you will see this issue alone compound.
        • Jan 14 2013: Everett, the line on the page is $458.3 billion. Click the additional + to see the breakdown of the K-12 spending.

          I appreciate you taking the time to actually read the one link I put up in the explanation. You might be the only one that did... I used $8000 to have fun with frugality. It was an experiment with low numbers.

          If I put the voucher number to $20,000 as a hypothetical, the conversation would be completely different. Which is easy to do. The next "conversation" could be: ."Raise taxes an additional $500B and put all of that into K-12 education, making the budget $1 trillion/yr, then hand out $20,000 vouchers to every one of the 50 million K-12 students and let them be free to choose their education"

          I have backed this up with 20 empirical studies. Posted in next comment

          You say "No one is truly prepared for these students." This makes my comment "public schools are ill-prepared [for these students]" accurate, correct, and consistent with your own statement. So my comment is the most accurate according to you.

          Private Sped education does a much better job with sped students. The sad reality is that only the rich can afford this because they have the money.
          -Vouchers would give poor sped student parents money. $8000 vouchers; $20,000 vouchers...
          -Vouchers would end a government monopoly on schooling that is currently taking away the mass market from sped specialists.
          -Sped specialists do not have a market because they can't compete with "free".
          -Requirements of Sped classes are just another roadblock by government.
          -NGO, and charity run Sped schools would emerge because the Sped student would have voucher money.
        • Jan 14 2013: The results of voucher research and studies:

          http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/08/education-school-choice-pennsylvania-opinions-contributors-dick-armey-ana-puig.html
          Meta-analysis:
          "out of 17 studies examining how vouchers affect academic achievement in public schools, 16 showed improvement. None showed that vouchers harm public schools. The review found that "every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public school."

          Washington DC longitudinal study:
          "In Washington, D.C., the young Opportunity Scholarship Program "significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school," according to the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Both parents and students reported higher satisfaction and rated schools safer if the student was offered an OSP scholarship."

          Milwaukee longitudinal study:
          "Dr. John Warren of the University of Minnesota found that students in the MPCP had an 82% graduation rate in 2009, compared with 70% in Milwaukee Public Schools. MPCP ranked higher than MPS in graduation rate in six of the seven years in the study. A report from the University of Arkansas estimated that MPCP saved taxpayers $37.2 million in 2009, because the size of the voucher is significantly smaller than per-pupil spending in MPS."

          Senate testimony elaborating on the voucher studies and research methodology:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew

          Summary of the above testimony by Senator Piccola:
          "Let me see if I can summarize: parents are more satisfied with school choice, schools that children choose are less segregated, it saves money, kids do better, improves public schools... why would anyone be against this?"
    • Jan 14 2013: ^D
  • Comment deleted

    • Jan 12 2013: Imagine if what you just said was actually true! It's not. Private schools, on average, have lower standards for their teaching staff. This saves them money, but doesn't lead to better education.
      • Jan 12 2013: Education is about students and children(customers), not teachers(for-profit workers). Americans are getting DMV educations because the state has a monopoly on education.
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    Jan 11 2013: @ John My 16 year old would ferociously disagree and ask where's the "inspirare" in a locked down education?
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    Jan 11 2013: Part 1 of 2
    Here what I envision for a 50% classroom/50%online education system.

    Firstly I will start with the current US 100% government ran classroom education system.
    It is stagnating; the US is not dropping in world raking because US schools are worsening, but instead because the US is not improving and the rest of the world is improve.

    Increasing the money to failing school has resulting in no improvement in the past, and there is no reason to believe that doing again would result differently.

    We should all agree the government shall not support or impair any religion.
    But the currently the US public schools do preach the atheism religion.
    That is right atheism is a religion with evaluation being its deity and Charles Darwin being its prophet. Please note religion is not the belief in a deity, but instead a belief/cultural system and has views/interpretations of the world.

    So for the above reasons and others we should agree the current system has to be replaced.

    Secondly online education works, and you don’t need to take my word for it.
    There are about 50 TED talks about it, and generally they agree that there are great benefits and that classrooms are still needed. So my 50/50 education system suggestion is nothing new.

    So to add competition and freedom of religion voucher system would address both for the 50% classroom time.
    • Jan 12 2013: The U.S. system has its challenges, of this I will agree. To state that it is stagnating is a stretch. Public and private education continue to apply best practices, research, and new information to the education of the youth. It is significantly hindered by a national policy requiring testing of all students which states that a school can be deemed "failing" if students in just one category does not meet the standard required by the national level law and arbitrary numbers. This results in a singular focus on testing, not on the level of creativity and innovation that we once expected from our students. Now, if a school does not have students passing the test, they are punished and deemed "a failing school". No program can be successful under this current model.

      Some of the programs, around the world, that you speak of are working under very different models. South Korea for example, appears to be wildly successful in academics. However, research shows a high passing rate on academics and then a high dropout rate at universities due to an inability to be creative. Other countries have incentives for passing, that we would never allow. Others, simply value education more than we truly do.
    • Jan 12 2013: "That is right atheism is a religion with evaluation being its deity and Charles Darwin being its prophet. "

      You win the "dumbest comment of the day award!!"

      Atheism is a religion in exactly the same way NOT collecting stamps is a hobby. (it's not, just in case the analogy was too difficult for you to understand)
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        Jan 15 2013: Look up the definition of religion, as I stated before it has nothing to do with a belief in a deity and so the disbelief in deity would restrict from being a religion.
        And don’t call people dumb, insulting people never wins debates and makes you look dumb.
        • Jan 16 2013: I didn't call you dumb, I called your comment dumb....If you can't figure out the difference, then perhaps you actually are dumb.

          Go ahead, re-read what I wrote. It's only 2 comments up....
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    Jan 11 2013: Part 2 of 2
    Personally I don’t like crunching numbers and play budgeting games, but I think you may like what I have thought up.

    The $8,000 per student could be divided this way; $6,000 voucher for brick & mortar classroom, $1,000 credit for online classes in the US federal education system, $500 to states and $500 to the US federal education system. Now hear me out before drawing any conclusions, because the money trail takes it differently then you may first think.

    Every school would get $6,000 per student to spend as they wish, the schools are a mixture of the current public schools, church and private ran schools, also there could be chains of schools a school-R-us, and Ed-Mart, and one room schools that a block, subdivision, or whatnot could setup. Ever city has the freedom to found or not to found any school, so rather the city wants to give their current school $100,000 a year or give parents a $2,000 voucher is up to the city.

    Now onto the good part;
    The $500 fed money is to run the online class system, for K-12 and beyond.
    The $500 state money is to oversee schools and if they want summit online classes to the fed. Online class system.
    Except for test/exams the students can take online classes anywhere at home, at school, public library, but test will need to be at school to prevent cheating. Now 50% of $1000 goes to the teachers that did the online class, 25% goes the school and 25% to the state hopefully to provide laptops to in need students.
    Before a teacher can do an online class they must have X-number of hour teaching in classrooms, for one reason popular teachers could become very rich. And this would attract many to the teaching profession.

    Now these are ruff numbers, but I hope you get the general scope of what I envision.
    • Jan 12 2013: How about letting the churches completely fund their schools? That would save the tax payer even more!
    • Jan 12 2013: Don, what I like best is you are breaking up the $8000. I would arrange everything for your system so you would be another competitor in the market place offering that service to the K-12 students that have $8000+. If the parents and students like your system which has local, state, and federal government involvement, they can choose to pay for it.
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    Jan 11 2013: I agree with you both, Brock and Petar. If we would proritize education over military we would have far more funding for education. As far as the best choices for kids, no one has greater investment in their kids learning than parents. Personally, I have tried all types: homeschooled for years with woefully meager support from our communities to do a stellar job. Private school afforded more personal higher educated professionals with very small class sizes, though unaffordable for most families. Public schools can be well-endowed with nice buildings, but the same system of uninspiring teachers remaining too long in overcrowded classes remains the common experience. Greater flexibility, options for travel and community service learning, encouraging social enterprises would all support a more inspiring educational experience for more families. Now we have a schedule that is packed with tests and spare of allowance for creativity.
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      Jan 11 2013: Ms. Haber.

      I agree we do need to scale down the military and take it off a war footing, but we still have to make sure the country and our access to worldly resources is safe.

      I've found that the only thing private schools had over public schools was the right to kick an unruly child out of the system completely. Public school systems don't have that luxury. That is why private schools have a good learning environment.

      We could do the same in public schools. I remember as a teenager that bully's were the biggest determent to a wonderful learning environment. Me and nerdy friends didn't have a problem getting together and discussing science, math and other subjects that interested us. But..... Those bad students, the ignorant ones who consistently asked stupid questions revealing that they were having fun disrupting class were always there crapping out the whole system for everyone.

      IMO all we need to do is make the pubic school system less tolerant of class disruptions as they are in private schools. We need to remove the violence and disrupted forces and the nerds can gain an education on par with the private sec1tor.

      On this issue, I find relevance for the voucher system but, it would exclude all students who did not meet a minimum level of excellence in their academic work and social maturity. The problem is we would, in essence, be turning our public school system into a prison for minors.

      I know it sounds barbaric but what other recourse do we have? We need to separate ourselves into social classes and protect those who truly want to improve the social structure of our environment. The others are a drain on the progress of the majority of the progressive class.

      In Jacksonville, Florida I think they use the zero tolerance policy and the alternative school system which is a form of prison for those students who don't play well with others.
      • Jan 11 2013: Separating out and imprisoning those who do "not play well with others" is a sad defeatist non-solution. We, as a whole society, need to regain our belief in education and our reverence for knowledge. Once we do the revenge of the nerds will come about. Our obsession with sports and physical prowess is still paramount and we have just recently gone through a series of major cultural events which highlighted the idea that cheaters win and nice guys finish last. This ethos IS changeable but we need to see it to change it.
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          Jan 12 2013: I'm behind you 100% Ms. McCann. The problem is in the word, "we". There aren't that many of us, organized in any fashion to accomplish great things on the level you suggest.

          I believe most of the problems are well lite.

          I know the separation and imprisoning thing is a bit primitive but that is exactly what "Alternative" schooling in some states is. The kids get one thing from the system and one thing only, an education. If they don't settle for that they are kicked out of the school system for good.
        • Jan 12 2013: Separating students out is not a sad, defeatist approach. It is a reality that schools have to face and deal with. Under our current system, all public schools must accept the students that come to them. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students that are incapable of learning past basic skills, students who have been expelled and re-entered, students who have committed crimes and are on parole, or students who have committed violent crimes and must be "educated" yet also must be escorted by security or police. These issues detract from the school and are disruptive to the environment of the students.

          Now, a charter or private school can deal with this by simply not admitting the students to the school where a public school, by law, must accept them. In addition, the philosophy that every one of these students will attend college is still rampant. What about training these students to be successful in a career that does not require college education? That alone would alleviate some of the issues and would be money better spent, and perhaps excite these students to attend school as they see a goal or purpose rather than the "one size fits all" model we have succumbed to.
        • Jan 14 2013: Sharon,
          You believe that children who are bullied because they are chess players should not be allowed to receive a $8000 voucher to opt out of the specific public school they are assigned by zip code... so they can attend an $8000/yr private school designed for chess players?
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    Jan 11 2013: Gentlemen, when you start putting teachers in their own houses it appears as if you are breaking apart the entire schools system we have worked so hard to consolidate.

    I still think the voucher system is a step backwards and does not serve to create a national social atmosphere in the education arena. It creates a patchwork of spots where different ideologies can be incorporated into the minds of our kids, dividing them among themselves as to the national purpose and the pursuit of science.

    I think it's a neo-conservative plot. :) I think it's anti-Liberalism.
  • Jan 11 2013: The key problem with schools, isn't the schools. It is parental support and in home guidance.

    Properly funded public schools out perform private schools. FACT.
    public school teachers have higher education levels than private school teachers. FACT.
    Public schools offer more unique education opportunities. FACT
    Public school teachers don't care about profit, they care about teaching. FACT

    Private schools can be selective in admitting students, yet perform at the same level as public schools. FACT, and Why?
    Private schools can opperate more cheaply, because they have lower staffing standards. FACT
    Private schools can opperate more cheaply because they don't have to deal with special needs children. FACT
    Private schools can opperate more cheaply because they don't have much accountability beyond a few state certified exams over a limited number of subjects. They can actually get away with only teaching the test. FACT

    using vouchers to attend public school would under fund them even more, because public schools have a mandate to teach everyone, with high standards for staffing, with accountability at all levels. FACT
    • Jan 11 2013: Brock,
      So what is the per student cost for a properly funded public school?
      • Jan 11 2013: I have no idea...That is why I elect politicians to study the issue.

        I do think we can hire private firms to make it more efficient though...if it actually isn't. Perhaps some computer based teaching that reacts dynamically to each student. Who knows? Some of these ideas can be tried in private schools, and applied in mass.

        Private schools DO have more flexibility and less overhead. I am not completely oblivious to the benefits of private enterprise.
        • Jan 11 2013: Brock,
          I am going to answer all your FACT statements and other concerns on this post here because they will run longer than one post. I guessed you were some middle class parent that didn't want the poor being able to attend the same public and private schools in your neighborhood which is one of the main reasons people oppose vouchers (they just disguise their elitism and racism by trying to point out pitfalls). This guess was completely wrong. For you it is religion and John Moonstroller it is religion?

          I will elaborate on your underlying theme here of religion, science, separation of church and state and monetary amount in a couple of days. These are excellent topics. I like the idea of staying on one thread and will add in the edits. The comment system here is backwards and I see that regular TED commentators just ignore it by topping their posts using a new comment.
        • Jan 11 2013: 2
        • Jan 11 2013: 3
        • Jan 11 2013: 4
        • Jan 11 2013: 5
      • Jan 12 2013: Petar said: " I guessed you were some middle class parent that didn't want the poor being able to attend the same public and private schools in your neighborhood ..."

        You have no idea who I am. If the best argument you have is ad Hominem attacks (attacking the person, not the argument) Then you have already lost.

        I noticed that you still haven't addressed my facts, or the tax payer funded religion points yet... Even though you said you would two days ago...
        • Jan 12 2013: Brock, what happened was I smelled skunk when you started twisting my words, spinning my context, replying to comments designated for me with patently false information, and lying about math not adding up. I called you out, and then you finally revealed your motive and agenda. You do not write out of good faith, or out of curiosity, or out of desire to improve education.

          You write with an agenda to undermine religion, and your anti-religious bigotry came out quite nicely:
          " Separation of church and state IS my number one road block to supporting vouchers"
          " The real reason, is they want to fund religion with tax dollars."

          If you can't even give a monetary amount for a properly funded public school is, then by definition you don't know what properly funded is. I linked of 20 empricial studies to back my claims, you have none. Your FACT statements are rhetorical hogwash and I was expecting moderators to recognize your disrespectful and unconstructive spamming and remove you from the conversation.

          I haven't dealt with bigots in awhile, so I'll need a few extra days.
      • Jan 12 2013: " replying to comments designated for me ..."

        This is an open forum. All comments can be commented on by anybody. Of course, there used to be a time when the church controlled all the information, and I am guessing that you long for a return to those days..

        "I called you out ..."

        The only thing you've done is call me names, because in the end, that is all you can do. You already know that the facts are not on your side, so like every other incompetent debater, you introduce logical fallacies and Ad hominem attacks.

        " I linked of 20 empricial studies to back my claims, you have none"

        The problem is, YOU never read them. Even your own studies concede that they are comparing apples to oranges.

        "You write with an agenda to undermine religion"

        Religion in this country is strong BECAUSE of the separation of church and state. If anything, I am actually protecting religion overall by insisting that government stay out of it. I believe in peoples individual right to believe in what ever fairy-tales they like. However, that does not mean they should be funded with tax payer dollars.

        If the church wants to build a school, let THEM fund the education. Let the church pay the costs of a religious education. We wouldn't need vouchers at all. We would save even MORE tax dollars. If parents want their children to have a religious education, let the parents fund the education. Tax payers expect an education the prepares students for a 21st century economy. That's what tax payers are paying for. An education that doesn't do that shouldn't be funded by tax payers.

        "I haven't dealt with bigots in awhile, so I'll need a few extra days."

        You can call me what ever names you like, but it doesn't change the fact that vouchers are a bad idea.
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    Jan 11 2013: Wikipedia states:

    "Under non-voucher education systems, people who currently pay for private schooling are still taxed for public schools; therefore, they fund both public and private schools simultaneously. Via offsetting the cost of private school tuition, vouchers and tax credits are intended to allow students and families to choose the school that best fits their needs. Opponents of school vouchers say allowing families the option of both public and private schools undermines the public education system through threatening its funding and enrollment."

    Is it possible that the real idea behind the conservative push for a voucher system is to justify a decrease in personal taxes for school systems? If those who send their kids (that can afford it) to private schools did not pay into the public schools system, where would the money come from to support the voucher program?
    • Jan 11 2013: The real reason, is they want to fund religion with tax dollars. Most private schools are religious in nature.
      • Jan 11 2013: The biggest proponents of vouchers, Reason Foundation, Friedman Foundation, and the Cato Institute are almost exclusively atheist.

        Edit:
        Brock, you can get more place holders by adding additions comments under this thread then editing them later. I did the same thing above using #'s
        • Jan 11 2013: Separation of church and state IS my number one road block to supporting vouchers. I do believe private enterprise can be a great solution. I feel it needs to be inclusive, though. Public schools have a mandate to educate all, and any voucher system needs to address that as well. However, in the end, I care about the curriculum most of all. Science is a must!

          None of those organizations Identify themselves as atheist organizations.
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    Jan 11 2013: 40 years ago this was a debate topic at nationals. Shocking that we are still debating this while our kids continue to be at desperate disadvantage in the global market place of information exchange.
    • Jan 11 2013: And your opinion on taking the education money away from the politicians and redistributing the education money into the hands of the K-12 parents?
    • Jan 11 2013: That is why we need real solutions... More funding for public schools
    • Jan 12 2013: We are losing our ability to innovate, be creative, and "think outside the box" as we are focusing so heavily on our ability to read, write and do math. I believe that these are important and necessary skills, but we are focusing so heavily on knowledge that we are failing to think creatively. Yes, we are struggling in academic areas, but the one thing we have been good at for our history was our ability to create and innovate. That is what we should be focusing on, not whether a child can pass a reading test or a math test.
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    Jan 10 2013: I believe when government creates great things happen.
    But when government manages, stagnation happens. Phones, power grid, space program, highway system, and more are examples of this.

    And with that in mind I propose that the brick and mortar school system be turned over to the civilian sector (via vouchers) AND the government with the private/civilian sector creates a national online education system.

    Let’s say we have 1 teacher per 30 students, currently that means 30-students per 1-teacher class.
    Now let’s envision student spending 50% of the education time online and 50% in class, and we maintain the same number of teachers. This would result in 15-students per 1-teacher class.

    The only losers in such a change would be the teacher unions’ management, and not the teacher, students, nor America as a whole.

    also;
    This would emplace a check and balance system in to education.
    A balance that we currently don’t have, nor would we have under a voucher only system.
    • Jan 10 2013: Or, we could just properly fund public schools, and public schools could also do classes online. (if that was even a good idea)

      As for teacher's unions...Teachers can also unionize the private schools, and I can guarantee you they would. So much for the savings you guys envision at the expense of decent wages for teachers..
      • Jan 11 2013: Brock, your thought about properly funding is a great question.

        I think the proper way to fund public education is to have the money come from bottom up directly through parents and students calling the shots.. (vouchers)

        I think the improper way to fund public education is to have the money come from top down through layers of politicians and bureaucracy calling the shots with the same politicians and bureaucrats skimming money off the education budget for their salary, and continuing a centrally planned education that is failing! (current system)

        Vouchers put the education money in the hands of middle class parents and students so they can choose which education service is right for them (public, private, home school, tutors).

        The problem with the current system of public education is the the difference two things:
        A. government financing of public education
        B. government operation and management of public education.

        With an $8000 voucher, students can choose to give that $8000 to the public school that is already operating. The infrastructure costs for public schools have already been paid for, so they have a huge advantage in winning voucher money from students.

        I have to repeat because I think many people are missing this: students can choose to give the $8000 to the public school they already go to. The amount of voucher money can be set to the exact same per student cost of the public school.
        • Jan 11 2013: "bureaucrats skimming money off the education budget for their salary, "

          another word for bureaucrat is manager or administrator (necessary, no matter who runs a school or business)...company profits are already a primary means of skimming money off the top, and the private school will also have a manager.

          2 points against private, only 1 against public.

          Administration fees are necessary no matter who runs the school.

          We need to keep school centralized because it reduces the impact of fixed costs.

          Vouchers cost more money in the long run, do not produce better results with completely open admissions, and that was the ultimate point of this thread.
      • Jan 11 2013: Brock,
        Vouchers costing more that current public schooling is patently false. I have posted the empirical research of voucher studies for 20 years and they show vouchers reduce education costs up to half, reduce drop out rates, have equal or better test scoring, and have improved parent and student schooling satisfaction. Read the response to Andrew Wiggins.

        Bureaucrats are not school managers or administrators. That is patently false again. Bureaucrats and politicians are bureaucrats and politicians. These are politicians at the federal, state, county, and local levels that all sap education budget that should be going to teachers and students. The department of education has a staff 5,000 employees in Washington DC setting educational policy for the entire country and their directions come from politicians.

        You have been twisting my words, spinning my context, replying to comments designated for me with patently false information, and lying about math not adding up. Either you are wholly ignorant of the public education system, or you have an agenda. Which is it?
        • Jan 11 2013: The word bureaucrat is a politically loaded word that you chose on purpose, and I reminded other readers what it actually is.

          Private industry has overhead too, and you know it. Are you suggesting that private schools operate without direction and reason? Of course you are not! That direction comes from some where. Perhaps from the private school's bureaucracy?

          Sure, the Dept. of Education has 5000 employees, but can you tell me who they are? (as in, what is their expertise?) Would it surprise you that some are Math educators, Science educators, etc... All working to ensure that our education system prepares young minds to enter into the 21st century economy. Naturally, they answer to politicians, as they should - the ones we elected.

          Private school costs less only because they are not required to accept everybody, to include special needs children. They also don't have the same standards for staffing. That is a fact and you and I both know it.

          It's easy to achieve results with less, if you are only accepting proven achievers, or children who have parents that are active in there child's education. You are comparing apples to oranges, and even your studies acknowledge that fact.

          Vouchers are about promoting religion with taxpayer money, nothing more.
    • Jan 11 2013: Don, that is a great idea.

      And one of the interesting things is that a voucher system allows for exactly what you described.

      "Let’s say we have 1 teacher per 30 students, currently that means 30-students per 1-teacher class. Now let’s envision student spending 50% of the education time online and 50% in class, and we maintain the same number of teachers. This would result in 15-students per 1-teacher class."
      -If a teacher is chosen by 30 students all with $8000 for the entire year , that teacher would have 30*$8000: $240,000 in revenue to the teacher for educating the students.
      -15 students start in the computer lab for half the day; 15 students start in class. Mid-day they switch.
      -15 students one full day in class; the other 15 one full day in the computer lab, then alternate days. alternate weeks, alternate months -- this would be a good experiment to test 100% computers vs the teacher.

      $1000 - 30 computers - $30,000
      12 months x $5000 rent/month - $60,000
      Teacher contract salary - $100,000
      Money to spend on student resources and field trips - $50,000
      Total: $240,000

      If the teacher owned a house and converted rooms into class rooms, less money to landlords. What are rent rates in your town?
      • Jan 11 2013: If you have 15 kids in the computer room, you now need another employee... add $60,000
        You forgot books...add $30,000
        special needs children...add significantly more.

        I have no idea what the cost of these are:
        You forgot network administrators, management, chemistry, physics, and biology laboratories, supplies for the labs, school nurse and academic advisers, disciplinary issues along with their associated costs, and probably a million other things I didn't think of either...and then finally:

        The profit for the company.

        "If the teacher owned a house and converted rooms into class rooms, less money to landlords. What are rent rates in your town?"

        Now we have zoning issues and possible safety issues. Will the fire marshal approve? Is the room big enough? doors wide enough? Electrical wiring up to code? Inspection fees, repair fees, and fees that the teacher will charge, damage caused by students, etc...

        Are we using tax payer dollars to fund religious education? We still expect students to be prepared for a 21st century economy...That means they need to learn science to include biological evolutionary theory.

        How much will it cost the state to certify the school? That is an ongoing expense as well.

        Vouchers harm education, not help
        • Jan 11 2013: Brock,
          Ah, right. $30,000 of book costs but you seem to agree with the rent cost.... You know I designed that question just to set you up, right?

          Back up your $30,000 of book costs or I will have to take ignorance and "[having] no idea" as unifying principles of your commentary. You just don't get it, and you have an agenda.


          Don,
          it would be great if you could reply to my comment under this thread here so Brock cannot continue disrupting and spamming the commentary. What are your thoughts on the scenario I gave you?
      • Jan 12 2013: Peter, you assume that students utilizing online education will learn at the same rate as when they are with a teacher. That is not the case. There must be a desire to learn and effort made by the students. Just because the education is available does not mean the student will access it.

        In addition, the teacher must create the online materials for the classes he or she is teaching.
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      Jan 11 2013: When you speak of Government are you talking about local, state or Federal?
      • Jan 11 2013: In this case, it is probably all...Education is funded from all sources. More from some, and less from others. Usually, it is the state that does most of the funding, but that depends on your state. If states comply with certain Federal guidelines, they become eligible for Federal funds.
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    Jan 10 2013: Interesting. Another question, if you would allow it, was the voucher program the only difference between the two systems?
    • Jan 10 2013: He didn't compare two systems...He just said we currently spend about $8,500 per student and wouldn't it be better if we just gave parents less money to try and find a better education?

      It is an absurd proposal...The math just doesn't work. Schools for profit would have to cut corners to make it profitable - at the expense of the student or the parent being forced to pay the rest of the tuition out of pocket.

      This would harm the middle class and the poor - both in cost and education quality.
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        Jan 10 2013: That is why I asked the question. There is a post farther down with a link to some a study that claims that the voucher system cut costs and improved test scores. My current stance is still against vouchers, but I would like to know more about his position, and if there is really a correlation. Just because there was a result in one study obviously does not mean we should be doing an education overall in the United States.
        • Jan 10 2013: The question remains whether or not it is comparing apples to apples. Are the same choices provided? i.e. Art, music, auto-shop, etc... As for performance and test scores, public schools teach everybody, while private schools can choose who they admit. If a private school only admits proven academic achievers, it would make perfect sense that their scores will be higher. The problem is, that doesn't tell us anything useful.

          I do think free markets innovate well, but they also cut corners. Besides, we can always hire innovators to make our not-for-profit schools more efficient (if that were really the problem). In reality, our public schools simply need to be funded properly.

          In the end, there is nothing that a private school can do that a public school can't also do, with the exception of teaching religion. That is the real motivation behind vouchers.
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        Jan 11 2013: I agree schools could use more funding, but I also think the real problem is that our funds are not proportioned efficiently. It should be more left up to the individual schools on where the funds go, and how the classroom operates.

        As for religious motivation behind vouchers, maybe? Do you perhaps have tangible evidence of this? As far as claiming that is the only advantage to going to a private school, that is not entirely true. There are usually better quality teachers and offer a more personalized environment. I know this because I have attended both private and public schools. So I do have a good perspective on the similarities and differences.
    • Jan 10 2013: Andrew, Good idea to move the posts to the top of the page.
      For everyone not scrolling to the bottom, excerpts come from: http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/08/education-school-choice-pennsylvania-opinions-contributors-dick-armey-ana-puig.html

      Meta analysis of 17 voucher studies:
      "out of 17 studies examining how vouchers affect academic achievement in public schools, 16 showed improvement. None showed that vouchers harm public schools. The review found that "every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public school."

      Washington DC longitudinal study:
      "In Washington, D.C., the young Opportunity Scholarship Program "significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school," according to the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Both parents and students reported higher satisfaction and rated schools safer if the student was offered an OSP scholarship."

      Milwaukee longitudinal study:
      "Dr. John Warren of the University of Minnesota found that students in the MPCP had an 82% graduation rate in 2009, compared with 70% in Milwaukee Public Schools. MPCP ranked higher than MPS in graduation rate in six of the seven years in the study. A report from the University of Arkansas estimated that MPCP saved taxpayers $37.2 million in 2009, because the size of the voucher is significantly smaller than per-pupil spending in MPS."

      Senate testimony elaborating on the voucher studies and research methodology:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTbMJtQL5ew
      • Jan 11 2013: From the conclusion of the Milwaukee study...

        "Whether the higher MPCP graduation rates are causal in nature — that is, whether these higher graduation rates are due to something real that is going on in MPCP schools — is a question that can only be addressed using a stronger research design."

        Page 7 - http://www.schoolchoicewi.org/data/research/2011-Grad-Study-FINAL3.pdf

        They simply don't know whether they are comparing apples to apples.


        I haven't looked into the rest of the studies yet.

        One common unsubstantiated complaint is that schools teach the test...Yet nothing stops private schools from doing that as well...In fact, private schools actually have a profit motive to do exactly that as well as pass undeserving students in non-state evaluated classes. It is cheaper to just teach the test.
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      Jan 11 2013: I agree with hardwood. Many states tried the same formula with Private ownership of the prison systems where the health and quality of life were depreciated in the pursuit of profits.

      I would expect to see a similar graph with the voucher program.

      There is one place where the voucher program might be of use. If we were to voucher college packages for those students who made excellent academic achievement, it might become a carrot for more students to seek academic achievement.

      Lets face the truth, most of those students who do well are self motivated and work harder for their accomplishments. Support at home is a plus, but kids who go to school during the day have plenty of time on their hands afterwards to play or pursue education. It's a personal choice. Both my wife and I came from poor backgrounds with uneducated parents and poverty level lifestyles. We both managed to achieve above average academic learning on our own with nothing more than the library for help and a few teachers who saw something worth prodding. While our achievements in the world are in no way note worthy, we have found satisfaction within our lives and still have a lust for learning.

      If industry accounts of education in the United States are correct, we could really use more academic achievers in this country.

      A college voucher program might have some merit.

      Also, Hardwoods offer that the original purpose of the voucher program is to decrease liberal minded influence in children has some merit. I did some checking and the idea does spring up strongly just after the 70's when educators were being accused of distorting the minds of religious youth with too many liberal ideas, especially in the area of science. We see another spike around the end of the 90's as well.
  • Jan 10 2013: The problem with vouchers is that the real motivation behind them is to stop teaching science, and to force kids to endure religious indoctrination at tax payers expense.

    The purpose of providing education in the first place is to prepare young minds for a place in the 21st century economy. We want them to know reading, writing, math, science, history, economics, etc... and to have exposure to other subjects like art, music, and such...

    Both education systems need to hire teachers, and that is the most significant expense. Private institutions would also be motivated by profit. They would end up hiring lower quality teachers, increase class size, or force parents to pay additional costs beyond the voucher in order to make their profit.
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    Jan 9 2013: @ Petar Ivanov

    Pete, Your argument is strong and persuasive for the Voucher system. My disagreement is with the idea that the poor could properly handle the cash and judge for themselves which school to send their children too. They would easily be taken advantage of, perhaps leaving them to put their kids back in the public school sector. If we use the voucher system much of the money, if not all of it would have to be taken from the general public school funds. We can’t support two systems, that would fairly address the needs of all students. The one we have would erode. Even with the current system a good portion of students make it to college potential, enough to fill the necessary jobs. These smart kids want to change their future. The problem is they can’t afford college.

    The rest aren’t interested in learning. They want to grow up fast ,become adults and rule their own lives. The numbers have not changed much over the years. They fluctuate but appear to be generally steady.

    I think the voucher program should be limited to those kids who can’t make it, academically, in public school --where they distract those who can. It should be given to private business to train lame students how to perform a task in a system, be it service, labor, home-care, or grounds maintenance. We should find them some kind of work and it shouldn’t have to cost much.

    Idleness creates laziness. Everyone needs to work. Disabled people are a different problem as are children of stupid parents.

    Once the poor start making money, they blow it on unnecessary stuff and never save a dime. Their kids become malnourished because they lack proper basic human nutritional education. They feed their kids junk and fail to supervise them properly.

    The idea that education will change the world has been proven wrong for large populations of people. If we took all the money from the rich and spread it out evenly it wouldn’t be too long before the rich had it back and the poor were poor agai
  • Jan 9 2013: In my opinion, the educational system should be flat, long lasting and rewarded with job opportunities rather than vouchers.

    As some others are suggesting, the student does not always know what he wants, nor what is his potential. When I was a child, I had the bump of palenteology, which changed later on in shopkeeper, then into accountant and finally into computer scientist and research scientist. Despite a natural talent in math, the poor preparation of accountancy made me feel particularly scared when I started university and saw for the first time calculus, theories of signals and so on. If I wasn't pushed by the constraints of the university, I probably would have not challenged myself with those subjects and mastered them. This is a experience-like example of why I should thank the system for not being given a choice, because it's really paying off nowadays.

    Your goal is to spare money and stimulate economy, but the fact is that there are hidden assumptions in your reasoning:
    1) The new educational system of choice is equivalent or better than the previous one in preparing the individual. If you don't prove this assumption, you may risk to produce more half-prepared/half-matured students or scarcely effective entrepreneurs. In fact nowadays the educational system has a big role into shaping the mind of a young guy, unlike in the past when the family nucleus had it.
    2) By giving 8000$ to the student, you can spare over the check you give to your public education system. Unless I did not understand your proposal, this assumption is probably wrong.. since the educational system has mainly fixed costs and salaries, that won't decrease if there are a few students less for each class. Unless your suggestion was that at the same time the State should dismantle the entire public educational system, of course.

    A student is part of the educational and knowledge system, not a customer.. ..to master a field you've to give away your time and soul. ;-)
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    Jan 7 2013: This requires some thought. I have heard many complaints that such a system will server the rich by decreasing the demands on their taxable income. I've also heard that it will only serve to educate the children of the rich.

    Now consider this. How many rich families are there and how many teachers will it require to service them? I think that will leave a lot of teachers variable to organized themselves in such a manner as to produce some healthy competition in the educational market. So, perhaps there is something to this type of program to educate our society.

    I've heard the Norwegian plan is working very well in a social environment and making great strides in increasing the general educational level of the population. They do it without vouchers and totally dependent on government to subsidies the educational system. Also, their economy is growing (after some effects from the 2007 financial downfall).

    I hope no one actually believes that the educational system actually gives each student $8,000.00 dollars worth of education a year. If there are 50 million k-12 kids that would suppose, at least, 25 million working families generating an income to support those kids (using an average of two kids per family).

    How can 25 million working families generate enough tax revenue to support the voucher system? If they earned on average 60,000.00 per year and paid in, say, 25 % to taxes, that yields about 375 billion dollars a year, somewhat less than the 400 billion figure you listed and leaves nothing for National security, social security, Veterans, or social medical insurance road maintenance and other national infrastructure, just to name a few odds and ends.

    It's high time we all started doing the math ourselves and look at these figures that are being tossed about. They don't add up. Is all the money coming from borrowing to run our country? We need more tax revenues to offset the debt and, of course, less borrowing by our government.
    • Jan 7 2013: John, the numbers and assumptions in your comment are wrong! The rich people have tricked you.

      -Most state tax revenue comes from income tax, sales tax, property tax, and business taxes. This comes from everyone.
      -For 2012, $458.3 billion dollars of tax revenue was spent by local governments on K-12 education in America.
      -With about 50 million K-12 students, that is a little more than $9,000 per student.
      -So for public schools, each student is "giving" $9000 to politicians to spend on them at their local public school.
      -Every K-12 student going to a private school spends additional $1000-$10,000/yr (their parents money) on top of the $9000 that they give to politicians
      -The current system serves the rich because they can pay for private schooling and buy houses in rich areas with good schools
      -The current system hurts the poor because the poor are trapped by zipcode, have no money to buy new houses, and have no money to send their kids to private schools.
      -My system gives $8000 to every K-12 student instead of giving $9000 to politicians.
      -The $8000 would allow the poor to choose private schools with their money, continue to choose their public school with the money, homeschool, or simply hire tutors. They have $8000 and educational liberty.
      -The rich *say* that vouchers will serve them and hurt the poor because $8000 would allow all the poor kids to attend the public and private schools that only rich children can currently go to. Also, when vouchers are implemented, every school that raises their prices will immediately be known as racist or elitist and probably get sued. And that's why many rich pull the wool over your eyes on vouchers -- they want their white flight and want inner city students to remain in the inner city. Are you also a rich man trying to fool the poor?

      Does that clear some of your questions up?
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        Jan 8 2013: "The $8000 would allow the poor to choose to private schools with their money, or continue to choose their public school with the money. They $8000 in their hands. " Petar Ivanov

        Petar, I appreceate your ernest feeling to eradicate the afflictions on the poor. However, I don't believe you can solve the poverty problem by giving each poor kid $8,000.00 to pursue an education? How long will it take the savvy management personnel to take that money and give them nothing? At least, under a federal program we can have oversight and dole the money out little at a time to cut loses in case of corrupt practices. The poor are poor precisely because they can't handle money (predominately) or circumstances beyond their control.

        By simply raising the price of education, the Rich can assure that $8,000.00 won't allow the poor to integrate the precious schools their children attend. In fact, by using the voucher program we may be giving them the very tools they need to assure this situation

        When it comes to money wars, the rich always have the edge over the poor. It's a no win situation without some type of central governmental control. That's why the educational system we have today was created in the first place, to assure the poor, at least, had the opportunity to get an education.

        The voucher system is a big step backwards, I belive, Petar--backwards to a time when only the rich could afford to send their kids to universities. A time when a poor student had to be sponsored by a rich person.

        I do agree that giving the money to the poor will help the economy, at least in the first part of the year, when they will spend every penny but the politicians will just find some more money to replace that lose, probable taking it from SS and Medicare, increasing our overall indebtedness. I doubt it will help teachers find work with higher pay.
        • Jan 9 2013: John, you have it backwards, the rich have tricked you again. They are good at that.

          -By making sure poor students are mandated public schooling by zip code and not given welfare money for education, the rich have assured that the poor will not get into the public schools in their White flight neighborhoods or into the private schools in their white flight neighborhoods.
          -The current system gives the poor $0 and a public school
          -Vouchers give the poor $8000 and the choice of any school, including all public ones that are $8000/yr or less.
          -$8000 pays for most private schools, and schools that discriminate based on race and background would be sued immediately.
          -Private schools that cater to the rich already exist. And the rich already send their kids to them.
          -Should the rich be prevented from eating at expensive restaurants too?
          -The poster Morton Bast had similar thoughts: Use something like a Gestapo to stop the rich from spending their own money on their family for education. Do you agree with her? Send everyone to vanilla boarding schools like Marx suggested?

          The rich and racist know exactly what will happen with vouchers:
          "School District Board President Charlotte Hummel actually compared herself to infamous segregationist George Wallace. She told The Philadelphia Inquirer recently that, "I will be standing in the schoolhouse door" to block vouchers, an allusion to the former Alabama governor who stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963 to protest integration."
  • Jan 5 2013: Mike Trainor,
    So you can't help yourself but feed your kids at McDonalds? Please, don't be so naive about parents.

    What part of educational choice do you not understand?
    -All students would be able to choose to use their education money for services provided by public schools too.
    -Parents and students can choose the public schools with their money.
    -The market opens to everyone: Individuals, tutors, charities, churches, NGOs, private enterprises, state owned enterprises, foreign governments.

    As for your rule of thumb and people choosing a McDonald's education for their children:
    -What is it about giving people individual liberty and freedom for education and food that bothers you so much?
    -What's so appealing to you about having an aristocratic elite forcing food and educational onto masses?
    -Why do you believe you are apart of that aristocratic elite? Because you don't eat at McDonalds?
    -Do you also feel America suffered when mostly uneducated and illiterate slaves were freed?
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 8 2013: Mike,
        The first seven paragraphs you wrote were your own blind assumptions without any inklings of supporting evidence. You chose to write petty tirades and attach personal attacks to them, then continued with rhetorical remarks in your follow up replies. Including the one above.

        What's more is that, in a forum supposedly geared towards intellectual discourse, when you were asked serious questions that happen to underscore your own hypocrisy and unconscious elitist disposition, you tucked your tail and ran away like a sissy. You know what? Your comments remind me of the juvenile dialogue in old MSN Chat rooms.

        Hey, wait a minute. Aren't you the one who quit TED conversations because you feel conversations remind you of old MSN chat rooms? Yeah, that's right, you are the one.
        Mike Trainor: "Time to say g'bye - this forum is beginning to remind me of the old MSN Chat rooms."

        Here's an idea Mike. Maybe TED conversations remind you of old MSN chat rooms because that's exactly what you bring to TED conversations.

        So I am glad you are done here. Please keep your word this time.
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    Jan 4 2013: Good. My wife who is college educated can pocket the checks and home school the kids. She won't have to work outside the home to sustain our standards. On the downside, would we still have to pay school tax on our residence?
    Paying for services not received; not nice.
    As far as the kids and schooling, our state has criteria established for home schooling, so those issues are resolved. Some parents won't, can't home school. They can deal with commercial education enterprises. And since it's a service function, there would be a direct link to the company and parent. No school boards and meetings and, and, and to get in the way of a child's education. If services are not satisfactory, a parent can find a new vendor, no problem. On the downside, all those school activities may not be available, football, school proms, etc. Churches or social clubs could host dances, Pop Warner football program, little league baseball, there are ways around public school programs. It sounds real good, so why aren't we doing it?
    • Jan 4 2013: Yes, choosing to homeschool children would give you and your wife an additional $8000/yr/K-12 student. It would be a boom to all homeschoolers. Your wife would even be able to try to pocket the checks of your neighbor's children if they accepted her service offer. In fact, she could try to pocket the checks of every American K-12 student by offering her education services online or through mail correspondence. It would be a $400B/yr market.

      Paying for services not received would be stopped. If the government handed out education cash to everyone, the only way public schools could stay in business is by winning the cash of the students. So the teachers, unions, education politicians, local government would have to figure out some way to convince the students currently attending to continue attending. Right now everyone who home schools or sends their child to private school is already paying taxes for education services not received - not nice indeed.

      For school activities, I think high school sports would see a boom.
      -Football crazy parents can send their football crazy children to schools 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 schools.
      -non-athletes who see no benefits from athletic programs could choose schools that offer services focusing on arts, sciences, and engineering.

      I think church activities would also see a boom
      Church Sunday schools could offer extended schooling all the way through Friday now that students have funding for educational services.

      Just needs the votes from parents and the people to make it happen.
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    Jan 2 2013: The current public education system is unconstitutional, so although I support vouchers it would be more accurate to say a support ending the current public education system.

    Firstly public education is a state responsibility, not the federal government’s, and the founding fathers wish was public education to be "encourage" by the government and controlled and micro-managed.

    Secondly the government should not support any religion and currently every public school in the US is a church for the religion of atheism. That is right atheism is a religion with evaluation being its deity and Charles Darwin being its prophet. Please note religion is not the belief in a deity, but instead a belief/cultural system and has views/interpretations of the world.

    P.S. I support standardized testing, and oppose standardized teaching.
    • Jan 4 2013: Excellent observations.
      America was built on individual liberty and freedom, and many of the first European invaders to New World settlements were fleeing religious persecution. Education by government has forced one religion onto all.

      Do you think the competition created by opening the education market with vouchers would out-compete the public education system? I think the people would outperform the government because the collective intelligence and collective creativity of American individuals is much greater than that of American politicians. It happened with the food industry in East Germany, and is currently happening with the government mail delivery service in America.
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    Jan 2 2013: Petar, In a level playing field where everyone does the right thing ... this would be alright. Inner city schools would be abandonded ... achieving schools flooded ... On line abused .... teaching only to the test ..... sham schools set up .... diploma mills rampant ... and many others .....

    Yep there are a ton of problems ... Textbook publishers and test writers dictate our education system ... Federal and state intervention .... Unions .... Common Core Curriculums .... tying teachers evals to students grades .... and allowing the fox to guard the hen house which stiffles any change / upgrades.

    We have accepted that life without a degree is a failed effort. The system needs to acknowledge that the trades are necessray to society. My plan for change would be to split the curriculum 1) College prep and 2) manual trades in all high school systems. This would allow students to be where they want to be and thus make teaching easier and allow for advance studies in both areas.

    Further there is a disconnect from the senior classes and the begining college courses. If I were in charge I would require Liberal Arts prior to university. Transition would be better and the Universities could address advanced courses as it should.

    Get rid of the multiple guess system and go to a application model. Just getting the answer right does not mean you can apply it in a real world situation.

    We need to address and solve the education problems. I feel the voucher system would just add to the problems. Wealthy communities would set up very private academies and excell ... all the rest would be hit and miss.

    You are quite correct that government run is the worst possiable and free market the best .... And change is needed .... we are together on much ... we just differ in how to get there.

    All the best. Bob.
    • Jan 3 2013: I agree with much of what you say about the weaknesses of the current system, but I don't believe that the free market would do any better than the federal & state governments are doing right now.

      I haven't thoroughly researched the question, but my experiences as a professor at a private university (not in the Education Department) and as a member of an elected school board for a public district here in Pennsylvania have led me to be very skeptical about the motives, the standard practices & the results associated with for-profit educational institutions (regardless of level).

      You're also right that some kinds of learning can be done more effectively and more efficiently on line than in a classroom, especially if that classroom is under the control of anything other than an intelligent, knowledgeable, and engaged teacher. Daphne Koller's TED talk about the Coursera project does a great job of explaining the possible upside of this new approach.

      However, even Koller suggests that while on-line learning is a great way to impart conventional models of facts and concepts to students, even a great web course cannot do much to advance a student's critical thinking skills. For that, we need direct mentoring in small classroom situations by intelligent, knowledgeable, & engaged college professors. And we need to make sure that college classrooms have moved away from and beyond the old model of lectures and multiple guess exams (if only because these things can now be done on a much larger scale & much more effectively on the web).

      Our current mess notwithstanding, there are good high school classrooms and good college classrooms out there even now. Parents and students need to seek those out.
      • Jan 4 2013: Jody,
        Do you think the food industry would be better if state and federal governments ran public cafeterias?

        Public schools spend ~$90,000,000 on 10,000 students.
        Let's say 10,000 children from the inner city choose a TED education that consists of watching TED videos all day. Now TED has $8000x10,000 students -- $80 million a year to meet these student's education demands. Why you the think their TED education would not be any better than what students get with current public education?
        • Jan 4 2013: While I wouldn't want the entire food industry run by government, I'm grateful for the existence of the FDA, which (in theory at least) places public health concerns ahead of the need to keep private shareholders happy. The education bureaucracies at the state & federal levels are inefficient and slow to change, but some states do better than others, & I would argue that on balance most of them (the feds included) do better than for-profit outfits like the University of Phoenix.

          I'm not at all opposed to making use of TED talks & Coursera & the web in general, but as I mentioned in my first post, you can't teach critical thinking skills by using multiple choice tests; for that, you need teachers & classrooms.

          One reason that public schools spend so much per student is that they are expected to make a good-faith effot to educate everyone, including those with learning disabilities & behavioral issues. On balance, I think this is a good thing, but special ed programs are definitely not cheap.

          Parents will always be the first & most important teachers of their children, but parents are not perfect, & some of them have badly skewed priorities. Another reason that public schools spend so much is that it costs more than $750 per year to outfit a high school football player. On balance, I think this is not a good thing, but it is absolutely true that in the average American community the the high school football team will have many more supporters than you will find for music education, for the humanities, or even for programs in the currently stylish STEM disciplines.

          The free market functions very well when intelligent & informed consumers (not shareholders) can dictate what happens by making rational choices, but if your consumer population includes too many uninformed or misguided parents, & when your real clientele is children (who by definition don't yet know what they need to know), the market will not produce the results we need.
      • Jan 4 2013: Jody,
        You did not answer my question. I will try again. Why do you think TED, using $80,000,000/yr in "voucher" money from 10,000 inner city students who selected TED as their education provider, would not do any better than the public education system in educating the 10,000 inner city students?

        Why do you think musicians are better off in public schools that spend disproportionate amounts of money on athletic programs, completely neglect music programs, and often have athletic cliques and bullies who push around "band geeks"?

        If you had musically gifted children, who loved music, and just want to play music all day... you would choose a public school for them instead of sending them to a music school?
        • Jan 4 2013: Sorry, Peter.Regarding the 1st question: many TED talks do a superb job of demonstrating both the creative & practical uses of intelligence & talent, & I accept your implied premise that most kids in public schools just don't see enough (or in some cases, any) of that. I do have reservations about the idea that kids can learn everything they need to learn simply by watching & (presumably) trying to imitate what they see.

          (I should also admit that I'm troubled by casting this as a "voucher" argument rather than a straight discussion of teaching & learning, because voucher money is collected by state & local taxing authorities & then distributed to private enterprises. Dollars that go to vouchers are taken directly from funds that otherwise would have been spent on public schools, & while money can't solve all the current problems of public education, lack of money IS one of the major problems plaguing many failing schools.)

          Regarding the 2nd question, I would argue simply that musicians, like all citizens, need a solid foundation in the arts & sciences (& perhaps especially in critical thinking skills) before they begin to specialize. I'm all in favor of magnet high schools, for the fine arts & for STEM & for skilled trades as well. But (to connect this to the previous question) I'd also argue that while you can use on-line pedagogy to teach music appreciation, you can't really teach someone to BE a musician unless you're in the room with that person.

          Regarding your last question, I would say 1st, that we did send my daughter to public school, & 2nd, that as middle-class parents we also tried to find ways & spaces for her to make the most of her brains & talent. (We have no magnet schools & no truly distinguished private schools in our area.) I think most parents want their kids to be both happy & financially secure, which means they need both to cultivate talents & to inculcate a healthy respect for the practical side of things.
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          Jan 4 2013: Some times it is just the people. In Phoenix a administrator took a failing inner city school and brought it up to excelling. She makes demands and enforces tough rules but is so inspirational that the students and parents are all in her corner. They have dress codes, hall behavior codes, classroom expectations, ect ... a story was written in the paper about a kid whos family was evicted and he could not find his homework ... he got a F for the day. He defended the system because that was the rules. With that attitude he will succeed.

          Perhaps that is some of what is missing ... disclipine and respect. Because of this these kids are becoming self reliant and can see a better future through education and self respect.

          I'm no psych but it makes sense to me at my low level.

          All the best. Bob.
      • Jan 5 2013: Jody,
        I have my doubts too about TED providing education services. It would deviate from their core competency of hosting conferences for the elite and putting the presentations online. So TED puts up their education service offer, no one signs up, the students all choose to pay the public school to continue their education or other service offers, and TED strikes out.

        If there were truly distinguished private schools in your area, would you send your children there? Would you rather have $8000/yr per child to choose any public school, any private school, or any method you see fit to educate your children?
        Do you think there would be more specialized schools if the government simply handed out $8000 to every student in your area?

        You are a professor at a private university... What about this plan:
        Let's say 15 high school students are a group, they have $120,000 cash for education, and the group was put together because they are all fascinated by 18th century British literature and theater.
        -How many people/staff/students in your department would be interested in earning $100 to lecture the high school student group for one hour every week?
        -How many would be interested in earning $1000/week by finding time to give 10 lectures?
        -How many would be able to give a public school worthy lecture on Paradise Lost?

        At $100 per hour lecture, the group could attend 1,200 lectures/discussions in a year.
        • Jan 5 2013: Petar,

          Yes; if there had been a better school (either a magnet school or a private school) available when my daughter reached high school age, I would have tried to send her there.

          However, I would still have paid my school taxes, & I would still have tried to do what I could do in my own community to advocate for better public schools. I think there's a compelling public interest in establishing some kind of base line for all future citizens of any democracy in literacy, numeracy, & critical thinking, I don't object to paying taxes in order to bring that about. It's not just about educating my own kid; it's about educating everybody's kids, at least up to a certain point, for the good of the whole community.

          In a sense, the system you're proposing is already available to high school graduates. (The subsidies here don't come in the form of vouchers, but rather in the form of state- & federally-guaranteed loan programs, which as I'm sure you know are the proximate cause for the ethically dubious recruiting practices of many colleges, universities, & trade schools.) I can understand the argument for introducing the same level of choice for high school students & their parents, but I have reservations about it, & below that level, I very quickly lose faith in the free market approach (for reasons I mentioned in earlier posts).

          Regarding the second hypothetical proposal, I'd just say no thanks. I appreciate the fact that I am able to teach classes and work on my scholarship without having to dig up my own customers for whatever it is that I have to offer. Students & their parents still seem to think that a college degree is worth pursuing & worth paying for, & as long as that's the case, I'm content to be part of that larger enterprise. I don't actually think that an academic who was seriously committed to both scholarship & teaching could make even a modest living in the way you describe.
      • Jan 8 2013: Jody, you did not answer the question...
        I think if my questions were posed in better English, you would not be skipping over the questions, so something is happening here.... I will try again.

        How many undergraduates or graduate students in your department do you feel would be interested in earning an additional $1000/week by spending 10 hours giving English literature related lectures to high school students?
    • Jan 4 2013: Bob, great comments!
      That is a good question about gaming the system. On online abuse, sham schools, diploma mills...I have to ask you: What percentage of American parents do you feel will cheat their own children out of an education?

      On average,
      -who is more likely to cheat children out of an education: their own parents or politicians?
      -who is more likely to put in sweat, blood, and tears into educating children: their own parents or politicians?
      -who is more honest: politicians or working mothers?
      -who is more trustworthy: politicians or working mothers?

      Yet Americans are entrusting politicians with $458 billion dollars a year to educate 50 million kids!? Politicians and government are already proven failures for education. Don't you think it is time to trust "we the people" and put that money into the hands of the students and parents?
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        Jan 4 2013: Thanks for the reply ... Polticians get the messy end of the stick in almost all areas. Of course there are always parents who who not fare so well either.

        Prior to Carter making the Education office a Cabnet Post ... the states ran the system and the major influence was the local school board .. who did a pretty good job because the PTA was on their case all of the time. Since then the feds and the states have legislated the schools and the system to death. Local control is all but a memory.

        Some cities have a magnet program that allows kids to go to a school that offers a "special program". One school maybe Math, another Lit, Performing Arts, science, etc .... I see some benefit to that.

        The major issue in all of our talks in the inner city schools. Most ring schools are pretty well staffed and are what we call excelling. Now that the teachers eval is dependent on the student test scores ... would you want to go to an inner city school straight out of college and have your record smashed on the first time out. If vouchers were issued I would think that inner city schools would dry up. My opinion ... the parents of inner city youth basically lose control of their kids at about 14 or so .. I know that is a giant generalization but accept the thought please. They work from 6 to 6 and the kid goes to school if they want to ... little control. Hustling drugs gets them big bucks quick. Stiff competitation.

        So lets, if you will, look at the worst case (inner city) and see if the model works there.

        By the way ... of the $458b take $80 billion away for the Dept of Ed to staff 5,000 employees in DC. Their mission statement calls for "set educational policy". Bettter be a heck of a sentence. The charts of $ per student shows that almost 50% or more is operations yet the ratio of students to staff is 20 : 1 or more. Kinda makes ya go ... huh!!!!!!

        I enjoy the respectful exchange .. thank you .... Bob.
        • Jan 5 2013: Bob,
          Yeah, another thing that makes me wonder is how the Department of Education along with a complicit American public dutiful forces Western education, standards, and culture down the throats of Native Americans. $8000 and educational choice would allow all K-12 students to pursue their own education interests.

          Inner city parents and students have an advantage of close proximity to each other.
          -20 students and parents together have $160,000
          -They put out an advertisement at $20/hr for a private tutor to teach them useful things.
          -at $20/hr they have 8,000 hours of group tutor "instruction time" before their money runs out
          -Every day a tutor of their choice drives in and teaches them.
          -Average "instructional time" for school is ~1000 hours. So they have $140,000 to spend on educational equipment. or $160/hr for 1000 hours...

          I'm not sure of the educational or economic impact illegal immigration has on K-12 schools in Phoenix. The vouchers being handed out would be going to K-12 students that are citizens
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        Jan 5 2013: Petar, I live on the edge of a major Indian Reservation in the US (Navajo) and can tell you that the natives are well educated at our expense. They all have the opportunity to go to university or trade schools. They also have a program call Johnson / O'Mally (JOM) that allows them to spend a part of the school day in traditional lore, customs, and language skills at public expense. I can promise you that there is no need for concern at they plight .. they are doing well.

        Immigration / illegals are a hugh drain on the state economy and the feds are fighting the locals who enforce the immigration laws. It is a big political battle over votes. (another conversation). I do agree, however, that the taxes are being borne by citizen to pay for education and if you are not a citizen then you should not benefit. There are laws in place to gain citizenship ... all those before followed the rules and worked to become citizens ... so should todays illegals. The really funny part is that their country (Mexico) has very strict immigration laws and if you are in the country illegally you go to prison ... but they say we must accept their people. Ironic isn't it.

        Most inner city residents are fericiously independent and loners with certain exceptions ... whereas the outer ring people tend to be a "community" ... therefore your theory may work well in one area and not another. Also there is a welfare mentality that is pervasive in the inner city that will be a problem in the resolution.

        Not a easy nut to crack .... I am thinking of a "way" but not quite there .... I'll get back to you.

        All the best. Bob.
        • Jan 8 2013: Bob, your location (Joseph City, AZ?) is excellent because it provides a small population rural scenario where buying power is considerably less. So I think examining handing out $8000 of education money to all K-12 students citizens of Joseph City is a great start at solving America's education problems. The question of dependency, welfare and entitlement mentality is a tough one.

          -Tax-paid public schooling instill beliefs that services should be "freely" provided by government(and managed and operate by government too), and that access to these free services is the "right" that people are entitled to?
          -$8000 of "free" money from the government instills beliefs that government should hand out money directly to citizens for all aspects of life?
          -Parents become more involved with education because now they have more responsibility and money?
          -Students become more responsible because they have money to choose themselves instead of being pulled by the state?
          -Too many people choose homeschooling and resource hogging athletic programs collapse?

          What are your thoughts on giving every K-12 student citizen in Joseph City $8000 for their education and allowing them to do whatever they want with it?
  • Jan 2 2013: "Same quality" or "equality" of education is impossible because all teachers are not the same, all students are not the same, and all parents are not the same. Some parents will tutor their own kids, some teachers will be fond of tips, and almost all teachers take likings and dislikings towards certain students.

    The Soviet Union tried "same quality" and "equal services" and the result was a complete failure. Even after 1989 Soviet politicians thought the people would be worse off if the food service industry was opened to the market. Knowing history, it is quite weird that Americans have Soviet mentality when it comes to the K-12 education. And as expected, the education system is a failure, politicians defend the failure, and people are opposed to opening up the education industry to the market place.

    What would you choose for yourself and your children?
    A. Turning the food service industry over to the government where politicians tell you when, what, where, and how to eat.
    A'. Turning the education industry over to the government where politicians tell students when, what, where, and how to learn.

    B. A completely open food service industry where anyone can open a restaurant, grocery store, deli, bakery, and people are free to chose when, what, where, and how they eat.
    B'. A completely open education service industry where anyone can offer education services, and people are free to chose when, what, where, and how they learn --- and the government redistributes wealth into the hands of K-12 students every year in the form of a $8000/student/yr.

    Equality is in the $8000 voucher to every K-12 student, and everyone is free to choose non-profit education services like TED.
    • Jan 2 2013: Actually the Soviet education system from the 1960s onward wasn't that bad. It produced many of the world's most renowned scientists and was better than the current education systems in ex-Soviet states, including Russia. Within two generations the Soviet Union went from being underdeveloped and illiterate to being fully literate and insutrialized with everyone having the opportunity to get quality higher education while most of the population had been illiterate serfs only a century earlier. It did an amazing job when you remember they had to bring education to places like Uzbekistan and Siberia. The Soviet Union, Western Europe and East Asia show that public schools don't have to suck.
      • Jan 4 2013: John, fantastic comparison.
        Comparing Soviet education system to American public education is a great apples to apples comparison since America has centrally planned public schools and a government monopoly on the education system. And both countries failed at education, with America's inner city public schools being the biggest failure.

        I like comparing the cost and quality of different public school cafeterias. Ever compare cost and quality of public school cafeterias with private restaurants?

        So if public schools were the only choice... How about parents of public school students get a "meal voucher" so students who bring their own lunch are compensated for the school's failure? And students also get a class voucher so they can choose the teachers that don't suck?
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          Jan 16 2013: I think that the education in the Soviet U as in other countries of the Eastern Block failed as they started to open up and introduce western (including USA) models; The school system was one of the few things they got right; the old systems were solid, based on traditional methods (memorization, all classes mandatory (no electives) , retaking a whole year of curriculum if you didn't score to a passing grade; you had to be good at everything (no such an excuse as 'I'm not good at math"...Sure the system was not perfect and maybe at times too rigorous; some children had to take tutoring to pass the class. The problem is, as I see it that in US people want it both ways: easy and good...which might not be possible. The school system we have would do maybe better if they would set up high standards and regard teaching more as an art more than a measurable quality; education doesn't even need to cost that much; good education comes with hard work not trough fancy labs, and computers ....and a tone of supplies.
      • Jan 18 2013: Anairda,
        The Soviet system did work for some people. Wouldn't it be great for American education when $8000 vouchers given to all students opens a $400B/yr market so entrepreneurs could set up schools with the same rigorous teaching methods and standards seen in Soviet education? Parents and students would be free to choose the traditional Soviet schooling offering, and also have the money to pay for it.
  • Jan 2 2013: The whole point of putting education money into the hands of the people: if parents don't like an education service offer, they don't buy it. If their children feel the service they bought is bad, they discontinue the service. Many SAT tutors offer 100% refunds.

    As of now, American government and politicians are forcing the entire K-12 population to eat the same educational food at the same education cafeteria. The costs are astronomical, and the results are abysmal. Ken Robinson's videos have almost 20,000,000 views for these very reasons.

    -There are hundreds upon hundreds of struggling rap, rock, and country western musicians working unrelated odd jobs to make ends meet.
    -Many of these musicians, singers, and songwriters would rather be teaching their craft to students instead of cutting hair and pushing shopping carts for money.
    -Opening a $400B/yr education industry to the market allows struggling artists to offer educational services and gives parents the money to pay them.
    -There K-12 students obsessive about music, singing, and dancing?
    -There parents who would prefer private group lessons from real musicians and artists?
    -Match them up!

    Ken Robinson has an entire anecdote about public education and a now famous dancer. All that family needed was educational money taken out of the hands of politicians, and put into their hands so they could choose dance education for their child.
  • Jan 1 2013: There is a much easier way to save even more money. Remember that thing called the internet. Well, for only a few dollars a year each, you could give every child that doesn't already have it internet access. Then, simply hire the best of the best teachers in the world, one for each subject and have them deliver courses online. Imagine, your child learning science from Steven Hawking, or music from Zubin Mehta! Even if you paid these "professors" millions of dollars each, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of teachers we pay now. All tests and learning materials would be online, so even more savings! No school buildings to take care of, even more savings! Only problem with this scheme I can think of is that teachers vote. Oh well, guess that is why none of the suggestions here will work.
    • Jan 1 2013: Lol, good luck at buying computers that cost only a few dollars and at learning calculus from an online course and I suppose robots will mark homework?
      • Jan 2 2013: The post suggested giving $8000 a year as a voucher. Certainly there are already computers made for the third world for less than $100, and even the Chromebooks are only $200, still a lot less than $8000. Besides, most people already have internet access and computers, so the majority wouldn't have to be given anything. I guess you haven't looked at college offerings lately also. There are already math, science, English, even music courses online. And yes, there are already online tests that are graded by computer. Most questions have only one right answer, so if you tick the box, it is not real difficult for a computer to mark it wrong or right. Remember scantron tests?
        • Jan 2 2013: "The post suggested giving $8000 a year as a voucher."

          It did, and then you suggested to save even more money and said it could be done for a few dollars per child.

          "And yes, there are already online tests that are graded by computer. Most questions have only one right answer, so if you tick the box, it is not real difficult for a computer to mark it wrong or right."

          That doesn't work for science and math tests as well as essays. Computers also can't answer questions.

          @below

          So a computer is going to tell me that although I misplaced a minus sign and a factor 2pi somewhere my reasoning is along the right track, giving me 7 out of 10?
        • Jan 2 2013: Picture recognition technology can do much more than scantrons. Google and Wolfram Alpha answer questions. And the rate of advancement for artificial intelligence is exponential.

          Works for science, works for math, computers can answer questions. This is basic knowledge. Is calculus in public school curriculum for K-8? If parents had educational freedom and money given to them by the government, they could choose to pay for calculus tutoring for their children at any age. Prodigies, geniuses, and gifted children are some of the most undeserved and neglected students in public education systems. Vouchers would be a God-send for them. Here's $8000 and your calculus tutor Sir 12 year old.

          What are your motivations for writing patently false information and being destructive John? Are you a politician, union employee, or teacher that feels threatened if parents and students are able to choose whatever education they like and government subsidizes them?
    • Jan 2 2013: Tomas,
      You are right, parents that decide to homeschool their kids could simply use $2000 a year and keep the extra $6000. Good for them. I figure parents would vote yes on having $8000 of their tax money going into their own pocket and the ability to choose their children's education instead of politicians doing it for them for $9000.

      With teachers voting, the problem is the bad teachers. Bad teachers can't earn anything so they vote to keep the same system everyone knows is a failure. With $8000 and choice, I wouldn't pay bad teachers, and 25 students choosing a teacher of their liking is $200,000/yr going to that teacher.

      The opposition comes from people who have aristocratic instincts or latent elitism, bad teachers, union employees, and politicians. Especially politicians whose salaries depend on skimming education money off the top of educations funds that should be going to teachers and children. So I am guessing John Smith is one of the above -- passionately coming up with excuses to defend public schooling.

      A study has even showed computer booths without instructions being more effective than teachers at educating children in rural India.
      http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves.html
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    Dec 31 2012: There will not be one single cut that will solve the deficit. Rather, it will be the accumulation of many cuts. The reason that America has been unable to even begin to tackle it's deficit issue is because there is a certain mentality that some programs are "untouchable" (Republicans: defense spending, Democrats: Social Security). Those are just an example from each party, there are of course several more. If we could cut across the board, then obviously the deficit would be cut. However, it tends to be more complicated than that for a government. One does not just simply cut costs.

    That being said, I do not support educational vouchers. They will make some degree of impact on the deficit, but the actual cost to the education of our children will far outweigh the benefit of a reduced deficit. It will undoubtedly lead to a lower class of education, which in the long-run will lead to a less professional workforce, and that will lead to an overall less efficient economy as the economy will not have the ability to produce at the output that a more professional workforce would have. Therefore, over the short-run this system would be favorable as money is saved, but over the long-run the cost would outweigh the benefit.
    • Jan 2 2013: Andrew,
      What beliefs do you have that make you feel that parents giving TED $8000/yr for education would be worse than public school education?

      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
  • Dec 31 2012: Maybe I missed your point I just wonder if newer is always better.
  • Dec 29 2012: "*The new education cost of $8000 education check to 50 million K-12 students is $400 billion per year
    *This saves $58.3 billion"

    $58.3 billion is not nearly enough to bridge the deficit and it's less than the $90 billion the pointless war in Afghanistan costs (but guns before education, right?)

    "*(a $6000 check would save $158.3 billion)"

    $158.3 billion still is not enough to bridge the deficit.


    The deficit is expected to be $900 billion for 2013.

    "*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)"

    Yes, it will open up all that money for shareholders and overpaid executives (who will happily "invest" it in gold and real estate, adding exactly 0 value to the economy) but that money would have to come from somewhere: probably school personnel and construction workers, in other words middle class consumers, the people who create demand in the market. The $6000 check system would also burden parents with all kinds of additional "fees" because it's not enough to run a good school with. I've said it before: even the Catholic schools who get to enjoy the scale of a worldwide system, ideologically motivated personnel who accept low salaries and don't pay a single dime in shareholder dividend or executive bonus packages, still spend $7000 per year per student, so how the hell is a corporation going to improve on that (btw, how do you envision competition in rural areas where there's only demand for one school in a wide radius)? We've seen the for profit colleges haven't brought down costs, on the contrary. And why would they? People know how important the education of their children is, they're prepared to bleed for it, and it's not like the shareholders care if some parents can't afford the additional fees. No, wait, they'll just have "budget" schools for the poor, make poverty even more hereditary than it already is.
    • Dec 30 2012: John Smith,
      The market opens to everyone: Individuals, tutors, charities, churches, NGOs, private enterprises, state owned enterprises, foreign governments.

      How would you spend $8000 a year on food? The choice is yours: upscale restaurants, hole in the wall restaurants, farmer's markets, fast food, grocery stores, make your own food, grow your own food, buy from food trucks, eat pre-made and prepackaged meals from a weight loss service, hire a personal chef for a week, eat from charity soup kitchens, dumpster dive behind Pizza Hut... whatever suits your preferences. It would be the individual's choice to spend their education money on products and services offered by companies with overpaid executives.

      Opening up a $400B/yr education market will see educational "restaurants" of all kinds appear to offer services. It is redistributing education money away from the politicians and into the hands of the people. The choice is up to the people. If you had a yearly $8000 bag of cash for educating yourself, what would you do?
      • Dec 30 2012: "The market opens to everyone: Individuals, tutors, charities, churches, NGOs, private enterprises, state owned enterprises, foreign governments."

        So if there's a functioning NGO operating in your area then your kids are in luck, if it's a corporation they're screwed? The thing people like you don't understand is that services like health care and education aren't about obtaining the highest quality for some, they're about achieving the same quality for everyone, regardless of how rich their parents are. If you privatize education you get a tiered system, kinda like corporations buy up different brands so they can cater to different budget ranges.
        • Jan 2 2013: "If there's a functioning NGO soup kitchen in your area, you are in luck! If it's profiteering individuals opening delis, restaurants, grocery stores, and salad bars you are screwed!"
    • Dec 30 2012: "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 run a school
      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.

      So...
      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?
      • Dec 30 2012: "So let's say a 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"

        How do they choose you? What if they are divided about your school-running qualities?

        "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." "

        Ah yes, rely on the pverty of other countries, good way to go, that's until someone replaces you for an Indian principal who will work for $8 an hour. Tell me, how are you going to get a good math teacher for $20.000? See the national average is now $9000 per student, any corporation can expect to lose at least 15% of revenue to profit, executive pay and marketing. So even at $8000 25% of costs would have to be cut (and the school would have to be more efficient than a catholic school), at $6000 43% of costs would have to be cut. What makes you so convinced this is realistic and won't result in a massively tiered system, do you have independent studies to cite? You can't buy a new car for $200, there are physical limitations to how much the free market can lower prices.

        "So...
        How do you envision the education change for an inner city single mother of 5 who now has $40,000 a year for buying education products and services for her children --- where before she had $0 and a worthless inner city public school assigned by zip code?"

        Is she magically going to get a helicopter to bring her kids to a better school 20 miles away? Other countries don't have a problem with bad inner city schools because they don't fund schools with local taxes.
        • Jan 2 2013: For math, here is another rural town example with me as education dictator and $160,000 from the people:

          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

          It's beyond me why you set up a straw man argument with a $20,000 math teacher. 20 kids learning math for one year from one teacher is $160,000 revenue going to that teacher. That is a fantastic revenue stream for anyone who can teach math.

          And I'm not sure why you protest global competition. I think global interaction, competition, and culture exchange are good things. I think moving away from jingoism is a good thing. Lower education costs are also a good thing. And I'm all about lifting people from developing countries out of poverty, and that is done by buying their goods and services.
        • Jan 2 2013: And what's with the arrogant helicopter comment?
          What's wrong with giving $40,000/yr and educational freedom to a poor single mother of 5 to educate her children? You feel she is so stupid, pathetic, and careless that a helicopter needs to be landed in her yard every morning, her children evacuated, and then flown into a private school? Unconscious elitism at it's finest.

          Parents simply post on the internet "Have $40,000/yr cash for educating my five children, show me your best offer." It's a buyers market.
          -$40,000/yr is 2000 hours of group tutor at $20/hr for her 5 children.

          The current system is spending $45,000/yr on her children in a worthless public school.
          The politicians failed and are cheating her children out of an education.
          Give mothers the money and choice.
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    Dec 29 2012: more freedom definitely better. however, whatever solution you choose, education costs are a drop in the ocean. it won't solve the fiscal problems. there are much more to do.

    actually, there is no such thing as fiscal problems. all participants are very happy with the situation as it is. this, until we hit the concrete wall of reality.
    • Dec 30 2012: Krisztián,
      You are completely right, it is a drop in the ocean for federal deficit.

      I looked at the state deficits, and for 2012 the total budget gap was $112 billion.
      *a $6000 check would save $158.3 billion

      Education spending is 90% local government. So a $6000 voucher to every K-12 student solves state fiscal crises. How about that! Yeah!