Monday, September 19, 2016

How to Fix America's Schools

America's pre-College education, ages 10-18 have well known issues. 

We have some of the world's best Universities, and some good early education, focusing on creativity and learning, rather than memorizing facts.  Primary school does OK (Elementary school), but our Junior High and High Schools have major issues.

These issues are complex.  But most of them can be summarized with one word:  Money.  Mos schools are paid for out of local taxes, particularly property taxes.  This leaves certain schools cash poor.  Worse, those schools are often from poor neighborhoods so their parents do not have the skills to compensate for the school's problems.  Sometimes the parents ARE the problems - drugs, crime, etc.

I am liberal capitalists.   My solution to the United State's education problem is simple, apply capitalism properly.  The key word there is 'properly'. 

People often confuse capitalism with money or money obsession.  As such they falsely think the problem is to either throw more money at the education problem, or worse, take away money from the schools that are doing poorly.

This is wrong.  Money is simply a score keeping method.  It is used to tell who is winning and who is losing, not to solve a problem.   No teacher ever got into teaching for the money.   Not even in the most corrupt, school systems run by the worst possible unions (and most unions are run by good people).  In the worst cases, some people got into education for the job security and perks (summers off, retirement plans) of teaching, but never the money per se. 

Capitalism is not about money, it is about competition .   As such, to fix the education system, you need to properly reward those that win the competition and to properly correct those that fail.   Money ends up rewarding or punishing the kids, not the school.

To reward or punish the school (rather than the kids), you need to increase or decrease the number of students attending the school.

Take a school system with 10 schools.  Rank all the schools, into five rankings (1 being the best, 5 being the worst).   Also, create a minimum and maximum number of students per school.

If a school is ranked 5, reduce the number of incoming freshmen students attending that school by 20% of the maximum (by shrinking their district).  This will reduce the number of students attending a 4 year institute by 5%.  If the total number of students falls below the minimum, that school closes down.   Non-tenure people are fired (they may apply for a job elsewhere), tenure people are moved to other schools.  We can put in rules to let parents request that siblings stay together.

Similarly, schools that do well (ranked 1) and are not at maximum, increase the number of incoming students by 20%.    

When a school is closed down, we spend a summer fixing up the school, replace text books, etc.   We bring in a new principal, and hire all new teachers, with a rule that NONE of the old teachers may work there.  They can work at other schools, but not this one.   All the new teachers must either be new hires or transfers from a school of rank 3 or better.   One year bonuses will be offered to induce transfers.  

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