Competition: The Key to Education Reform

The only way we can ever hope to reform our national education system is to get the federal government out of the education business altogether.

Reforms like the No Child Left Behind Act were miserable attempts at fixing the educational system in this country. These type of programs relied too heavily on the intervention of the federal government.

The federal Department of Education needs to be completely dismantled. The federal government does not have the capability to improve school performance or the educational system of this country in general. Federal involvement in education must be phased out if not immediately then gradually. The taxpayers must regain control of their children’s education.

Education and State should be separated. Public schools are essentially government schools that indoctrinate our children and many of them continue to churn out the lowest common denominators of society.

Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is key. This department spends billions on education and educates nobody.

There is a myth inherent in society that our that schools are underfunded. Everybody says that we need to pour more money into education but the reason public schools are failing is not because they lack funding.

Schools are not underfunded and we don’t need to spend more on them to improve their performance. Increases in federal spending on education are ineffectual. Federal funding hinges on federal certification standards such as those set forth in the flailing No Child Left Behind Act. standardized policies like NCLB and Common Core takes the decision-making power away from local and state governments and shifts it to the federal government who has effectively decreased standards.

Throwing money obviously has not improved the continual decrease in ACT and SAT scores of high school students. U.S. News and World Report earlier this year did a study that found that the class of 2016, collectively, failed all 4 subject areas that these tests assess: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Congress continually increases funding while at the same time imposes new layers of regulations on public schools.

Education was not originally set up as and what not meant to be a responsibility of the federal government. Education originally was controlled by local communities but over the years schools became more centralized and advocates of public schooling pushed for more government control.

In 1867, Congress created the Department of Education due to the lobbying efforts of the National Teachers Association. In 1868 it was integrated into the Department of the Interior and then became its own department again in 1979. Its original task was to collect information about schools and teaching methods. It did not begin to provide any funding until the 1930s with FDRs New Deal program.

Federal intervention into education increased in the 1960s with President Johnson’s Great Society program. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 subsidized schools in high-poverty areas through teaching training, textbooks, school technology and even to help strengthen state school departments of education.

One of Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign promises was to abolish the Department of Education and even drafted a proposal to get rid of it but it went nowhere in Congress. Unfortunately after Reagan, every administration has called for the federal government to expand its role in education. Supporters of the federal govt’s intervention in education claim it helps bring equality to education by redistributing funds to less-advantaged schools.

Across the board, our nation’s education system is struggling to improve performance but government control of education does not serve the needs of the students. It serves the needs of teachers unions and school bureaucracies.

Control of education needs to be returned back to the state and local communities because they know what the educational needs of our children are. Do you really think that a bureaucrat in Washington DC, knows how best to educate children in the various local communities?

Our schools must be taken back from the self-serving teachers unions and the bloated federal bureaucracy that has taken our country down the drain.

Any education reforms brought forth by the current and previous administrations fail because they do not allow for the one thing that will improve educational performance: competition.

We need to make the education system more competitive. We have to transform the failing education system away from a government monopoly to a free-market system. The free-market system has proven itself to be more innovative and more efficient. There is a reason that you always hear the phrase “good enough for government work” to refer to a job that has been done half-assed.

The lack of free market solutions in education allows public schools to have a virtual monopoly on the education sector. Competition improves quality and lowers cost by definition. Competition among schools leads to improved academic outcomes. Competition drives success factors and presents options that appeal to both students and parents.

With schools competing with each in an attempt to attracts students to their institutions, the same way that private schools and universities do, catalysts are created to give schools an incentive to innovate and respond to parental demands.

Competition makes education cost-effective. For instance, spending on public education ranges from $12,000 per pupil in Phoenix to $27,000 per pupil in the New York area. Privately run education costs between 25% to 50% less than publicly run education and has superior outcomes.

Our children’s education would be better served if it were provided by the free market. Free market solutions to education would increase quality, efficiency and diversity of choice. Schools could be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and let parents take control in education decisions.

Competition will allow for local districts to test what solutions work best for them in order to improve performance.

There are alternatives to public schooling. alternatives like charter schools, school vouchers, tax credits, homeschooling, online learning and hybrid learning have proven to be promising.

Another alternative, school choice, is another way to allow competition in education. School choice would keep parents from being forced to stick their children in bad local schools because they could choose another school to send their children to.

President Ronald Reagan once said that “Choice represents a return to some of our most basic notions about education….programs emphasizing choice reflect the simple truth that the keys to educational success are schools and teachers that teach….choice in education is the wave of the future because it represents a return to some of our most basic American values….it offers hope and opportunity.”

School choice may not necessarily be the silver bullet to improve America’s education system but it creates the conditions necessary to push schools to implement true reform that works or risk losing students and their money. without competition, schools have no incentive to perform well.

Under the current system, poor children suffer the most. Poor parents have no choice as to where they sent their children to school while wealthy parents have the resources to send their children to better and safer schools. School choice would allow children in low-income areas to acquire a bad education. School choice would level the playing field by broadening opportunities for low-income students to attend good schools.

The common element in public schools is that they are funded by the taxpayers. And although we can all agree that education is a common good that is deserving of taxpayer money, education should not run by a monopoly like the federal government. But just because Americans finance education doesn’t meant Americans should allow government to dictate where their children go to school.

Here are some examples of school choice options:

Open Enrollment. This where people enroll their children in any public school that they want regardless of what district they live in.

School vouchers. This is where tuition is paid for on behalf of the parents. These vouchers are given to the parents for them to spend at the school of their choice. Vouchers aren’t really the best alternative but they are a good transitional step.

Charter schools. While still publicly-funded, they operate independently of the local school boards in regards to staffing and curriculum. Less regulation means no teachers unions and no state curriculums.

Magnet schools are also publicly-funded but specialize in their curriculum much like charter schools do.

The final alternative is home schooling.

Our lawmakers need to work to reform school funding, support these alternatives I just mentioned, and return control to education over to the states and local communities. Additionally, states and municipalities should be allowed to opt out of programs such as NCLB and Common Core.

With school choice and competition present in our educational systems, schools will be forced to have better teachers and better curriculum and will lead to better test scores and better educated students, all without the detrimental assistance of the federal government.

The education of our children is not something we can make many mistakes with. This is the future of our country we are talking about. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and we can not and must not take chances with their education.

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