Thursday, May 14, 2009

How To Really Improve The Public Schools

This is an article I originally wrote for a friend that he published on his blog at
A Keyboard and A .45. I have edited it for brevity by removing some outdated time-sensitive portions but the rest is posted for your reading pleasure.

I'm sure just about everyone has worked somewhere where there was an employee who was the boss' pet. This person was sometimes a relative of the boss. No matter how unproductive or how often he actually caused a loss for the company, he got to keep his job and get paid like everyone else on payday. Since this person always got his money, he had no reason to improve or otherwise do what was best to satisfy his customer, the boss. This is how most public schools operate.

Study after study keeps coming out about how the public schools are "failing the children" and some are graduating with "diplomas to nowhere" that the students can't even read. The usual response from administrators is that the study is faulty, that "our" schools are just fine, and you can continue to invest in "us." In other words, "Pay your taxes!" If they do in fact admit there is a problem, they will blame it on a lack of funding and always recommend that they receive more funding so they can fix the problem. In other words, "Pay your taxes!" My suggestion to permanently fix the problem is to take away the public schools' authority to tax and make them earn their money the old-fashioned way: By satisfying the customer.

In order to raise funds they will have to collect fees from those who actually use their services. If a parent/customer chooses not to send her child to the school, that school receives no money. When a business fails to accommodate its customers' wants and needs, it loses it customers. When the customers leave, they take their money with them. Without any funds coming in, a business usually goes out of business. The threat of starvation is as good a motivator as the desire for profit and will drive people to improve their service to others. This is what the public schools need and need badly.

When a parent sends her child, and her money, to a school she expects her child to receive an education and not an indoctrination in obedience and obeisance of the state. If the parent/customer thinks her child is not receiving the education she wants then she takes her child, and her money, out of the school and sends her child to another that gives her what she wants. If the first school wants her child and her money back they will have to do more to satisfy her. On a side note, there are always some people who can never be satisfied but under this program the schools can still improve. Whiners can be given a refund and told to take their silly problem and their children down the road. In this fashion, disruptive students who cause damage and commit crimes against other students can be permanently removed and never be a threat to good order again.

Want your child to have an education with a particular religious or socio-political leaning? Do you want your child to learn to play the violin along with the other basics? Do you want your child to be protected on the school grounds by trained and armed teachers or would you prefer they go to the school with big signs out front that declare this school is a "Gun-Free Zone" and nobody here is armed so as to protect us? Somebody somewhere will offer that to you at the price you can afford or you can choose to keep your money and educate your children the time-honored way of doing it yourself.

Many studies have shown that public schools spend more to educate their students then some prestigious private schools charge for tuition. This is because so many of them are top heavy with administrative bureaucracy. So as to turn a profit or at least break even and stay in business, these schools will have to streamline and get rid of some the deadwood cluttering the place.

Some politicians have suggested that public schools should be run like a business but since they are government agencies and can always depend on money collected at gunpoint, then they behave more like organized criminal enterprises than a business. Under the system I suggest then they can really be run with a priority of keeping the customer happy.

Will taking away their power to tax and making them dependent on customer payment not turn the public schools all into private schools? Yes and we will all be the better off for it. The children will get the education their parents want them to have and the schools will give the education the parents want if they want the parents' money. There will be no more arguing over required subjects, testing, or Evolution vs. Creation Science because the parents will choose where to send their children and by their paying the tuition, they will voice their approval of the school's curriculum.

Will this program ever see the light of day? I doubt it because there are powerful people who are becoming rich off the system as it currently works and they will fight tooth and nail to keep it the way it is. But I have taken the first step by writing this article and you have taken the next by reading it and hopefully this snowball can gain mass and momentum as it starts to roll downhill.

*For further reading on this subject, I would like to recommend The Underground History of American Education and Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto. For more information on giving your student a classical education at home I recommend The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.


  1. The only thing I would add to this is a 100% tax credit ( either income or real estate) so each school can provide funding for the poor. I am dead set against vouchers because this still leaves control of the voucher schools in the hands of the politicians. Politicians are so good at adding strings to everything.

    FREE PEOPLE NOT FREE MARKETS (Free Markets is new speak for Capitalist Dictatorship. Capitalists love their monopolies)

  2. If there is no tax, as there shouldn't be, how does anyone receive a tax credit? "Something from nothing is still nothing."

    A free-market is what free people do when they engage in economic exchanges with each other through voluntary and consensual interaction. The "monopolies" of which you speak will exist for only for a short time, if at all, and only if the customers in a free-market allow it. It takes a government interfering in the free-market to create the dictatorship of which you speak. What you are referring to is either "Crony Capitalism" or "Fascist Corporatism," both of which are just forms of organized criminal enterprises.

    For more on these subject check out:

    Of course, if you mean to use government taxes to "provide funding for the poor," then that term is just "new speak (sic)" for theft...