K-12 Schools and Choice

I do not support Common Core or any federal or outside force in education. In a perfect world, the curriculum would be determine at the lowest level possible, either at the county, city or district level. For example, an elected board of parents (and one or two educators) could submit or approve the curriculum.

Since government has stripped faith and values education from the public schools, there is a strong argument for private school, with funding provided by state grants – similar to the GI bill but for K through 12 students. Presently, if a family would like to send their children to private school, they are essentially paying twice for their children’s education – once through their taxes and again through their tuition.

Idaho’s charter system is it good first start, but I think there’s more we can do to encourage competition.

Commentary: Private or Public Schools?

I believe there is a place for both public and private schools. However, the problem with any monopoly, is its ability to naturally stagnate. Our public school system monopoly, despite the leadership of some amazing administrators and teachers, are slow to innovate and adopt new practices because of the nature of the operating environment we put them in.

What do I mean? Let me explain this with an analogy. Can you simulate thirst? I mean really simulate the weakness and dry mouth you get when you’re dehydrated? Well, unless you’re a magician it’s impossible. Right?

But what if I were to drop you off in the middle of Death Valley without any water? How motivated would you be to find water then? That’s what true competition does. It makes you thirsty and more willing than anything else to find water and survive!

If you’ve ever run a business, you’ll get my point without much thought. But, if you’ve always been funded by a government allocation, you may not understand this natural drive to excel.

However, we’ve put our school administrators and teachers on the shore of a lake and then expect them to have the drive to find water. This is especially true when we expect them to satisfy everybody, besides the students and parents. They have to contend with federal and state statutes and regulations, special interest groups, such as non-parent constituents, and lobbyists or unions who pressure the centralized government to do it their way. It’s leadership by group consensus.

By the way, I’m not talking about replacing one set of regulations with another set for public-private competition; and I am not arguing for no health and safety oversight. I am not advocating for a different type of Common Core either. But, what I’m suggesting is what we expect other professions do and achieve a professionally recognized certification. For example, many hospitals certify under the Joint Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

Where Will the Money Come From? 

I believe a more accountable and equitable method would involve funding the student, not the building or district. This would allow parents and schools to compete via outcomes and programs. In this scenario, any good school administer would react to a five percent decrease in enrollment dollars and look for ways to get back on top.

In some markets, a public school would not be able to compete, unless the law changed. For example, if a parent wanted their child to attend a school with a religious basis, public schools would be prevented form competing in this market. For these parents their only alternative may be among competing religious schools.

US Department of Education

There is no provision in the U.S Constitution for the Department of Education (USDE). This is an over reach by the Federal Government. I am in favor of disbanding the USDE. I do not support Common Core.  Education is a State or local responsibility. 

Photo credits: Pixabay

Reggy Sternes

Reggy was a Republican Primary candidate for the State of Idaho House of Representatives (District 25A) in 2016. He believes in limited government, individual liberty and supports the Bill of Rights and more state sovereignty. The National Riffle Association endorsed him over the incumbent - he received an "A" grade. He is pro-life and supports a free-market approach to improve schools and health care. He holds bachelor degrees from the University of Idaho and Idaho State University and a master degree from Oregon State University. Sternes is a 23 year U.S. Navy combat-zone veteran, earned 23 individual and unit medals and ribbons, and obtained the rank of Commander.

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