Thursday, December 28, 2006

Free market education

I'm in high school. I don't particularly enjoy it - Who does? But I don't like the way the schools are run, either. There's a fundamental problem that's ruining the schools of America: No choice.

Schools today are more segregated than they were 30 years ago. In an age where desegregation orders are in effect, you would think that people of different skin color, religion, and creed could actually congregate together. But the fact of the matter is that we are segregated. Not by government order or charter - but by our homes. We live where we can afford it. Children go to school based on where they live - the root cause. School districts are ruining schools. By funneling property taxes only into the schools of their respective districts, politicians are segregating our children and dividing us - the rich and the poor, two wholesomely separate groups kept wholesomely separate without any command.

If you were a parent, and the school closet to you was the worst in town, and you had a choice in where you sent your child, would you choose a different school? Of course you would? Would the worst school in town then try to shape up and get better teachers? Of course!

Now, some people will say that the disappearance of school districts would ruin schools. But what if public schools got funding for every child that decked their halls? (Private schools of course would be barred from this benefit.) Suddenly, things would change for the better. Parents would start to shop around. Feeling the pressure, principals and administrators would find the best teachers possible, so that their school would the highest scores on the AP U.S. History test! Facilities would improve, and better materials would be bought - all in the name of competition.

If there's no competition among schools, the losers are the kids. By locking children into government-mandated natural monopolies, the school districts are lazy, bloated, and slow. Breaking these bonds would force schools to improve - or else. The No Child Left Behind Act cannot improve schools by requiring education institutions to meet and beat arbitrary standards. That doesn't accelerate the motivation to improve; goals like that simply change the material taught in the classroom by shifting the focus onto memorization skills and subjects the tests pinpoint. Teaching to the test is not an improvement in education!

So what can we do? Push school districts into the free market. Redistribute property taxes so that the funds are divided according to student population. Survival of the fittest won't kill schools; it will make them leaner, stronger, and healthier.

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