Waiting for ‘Superman’

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I haven’t seen Waiting for Superman, but I intend to do so as soon as I can.

From what I understand, it started as a project to investigate why people were so busy trying to get into the few charter schools across the country. What the filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, the director of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, ends up showing is that only in the free market can kids get the top education they deserve. It is the teacher’s unions who artificially suppress the schools and keep the kids in sub-par education with no way out.

I’ve known for a very long time that the only way to truly fix our education system is to take our schools away from the teachers, state legislatures, and congress and put the parents in charge.

Parents don’t have to be very smart to demand that schools perform for their children. No one, no teacher nor politician, can claim any more compassion or empathy or a desire to succeed for the child than that child’s parent.

If we want to reform our schools in Washington State, the easiest way would be to simply stop funding it altogether. Yes, that’s right—leave the parents left to find education for their child, and let them decide how much they will spend their money on education. You can be dang sure that whatever school a parent sends their child to, they will make certain that the teachers, administration, and facilities are at the top level for the budget.

Of course, such a system would inspire countless charitable foundations to either build charity schools or provide scholarships to those who can’t afford the top schools. We know this because this is exactly what happens in the competitive education industry at the college level. No child would be left behind as long as people who cared about the poor and had the means to do something about it existed.

The best part is that all waste in education would disappear almost overnight. Schools would be left to justify every penny they spend, and to make sure they spend their money first and only on those things that actually produce a better education for the children. Otherwise, parents will leave that school and go to schools that do provide a better education for less money.

I don’t think any legislator is going to propose such a bill in the coming years. Instead, we can settle for programs that tend towards that direction, such as charter schools, tax subsidies for education spending (individuals or foundations), and vouchers.

Of the three, I believe tax subsidies is likely the most probably to pass and the most efficacious. How it would work is that the government would simply allow people to write off money they spend on education from their taxes. This could either be money parents spend on private schools or money that people donate to education foundations or scholarships.

This would increase the spending on education from the private sector, and allow private schools to compete on equal footing with the public schools.

Over time, more and more people would choose to spend their money on education rather than taxes, and more and more children would be able to attend private schools. The best part is that since the people get to decide how to spend the money, they get to use it to keep the quality of education high.

Under such a system, the teacher’s union would lose all political power. They would be left simply doing what a union is supposed to do—ensure fair contracts for their teachers.

And especially, under such a system, the people will grow to realize that they have always had the power to deliver a superior education to every child, and government is not necessary to deliver it.

It hardly makes sense to entrust the same organization that wages war, writes our laws, and punishes criminals to set our education policy.

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