Education is always a hot topic.
Despite various emotional appeals and the policies, contracts, mandatory busing, and ever more taxes they generate we see continue to see more students leaving public high schools with less and less preparation for life. I know this first hand as I have been an instructor in technical schools and colleges, the military, traditional university, and as a corporate trainer. Students somehow graduated high school and entered one college without the ability to read at a middle school level...imagine the daunting task of reviewing a genuine college textbook! Most often I was confronted with students who lacked the ability to use logic: they found if very difficult to explain something as simple as how they managed to get from their bed to my classroom. Many were outright frightened of mathematics. Every one of the men and women had a General Education Diploma from a high school and most of those high schools were here in Missouri.
I think it is time to return responsibility for a child's education to his or her parents. There are many ways to do this and, if we could move away from our one-size-fits-all approach to teaching, we might rediscover that every child is uniquely different from other children, even their own siblings. Everyone learns differently including interests, rate of epiphanies, curiosity, and natural ability. Who but a parent knows what is best for their own child?
At a minimum I propose that parents be allowed to choose their child's public school without reference to ZIP Code. This would would be subject to availability at the target school, meaning that parents rather than the school district are responsible for transportation, and that the parents' share of education taxes would be transferred to the target school.
Every property tax payer should be permitted to direct their share of education taxes to the education institution of their choice whether public, private, or parochial. Someone may object that public schools will fail if this happens. The truth is if those schools are so bad at providing education they should be replaced because they are already depriving children of quality education! Keeping under performing schools means at best they will continue graduate students condemned to mediocre or worse options upon graduation: how is that fair to children who lack other options? A little inconvenience for educators is a small price for providing our next generation the education they need to take their place as producers and providers in our society.
We trust Moms and Dads to find food, clothing, and shelter appropriate for their sons and daughters. Why is it so difficult to trust them to decide which educational and extracurricular activities are best for their particular child? We have few objections to them determining medical and dental care. If competent adults can handle all that then only a fool would claim they are somehow too stupid to determine the best education for their children. In a competitive system parents can and will remove their children from under performing schools and they will have recourse to the Courts if an education system fails their child. Public schools rarely face either of these consequences because they have guaranteed funding (taxes) and guaranteed customers (students).
"Competition gives us a hundred kinds of deodorant" or so a certain socialist complained. Imagine what competition can do in education. There are other advantages, too: questions of faith and belief, sexual practice, political intrigue, and hundreds of other value based policies can be address peacefully without resort to the Legislature or the Courts. By this I mean that parents should be choosing schools for their children which take their and or their child's particular interests and concerns into account. Whether the issue one of faith, LGBT students, appropriate sexual education, sports, traditional or progressive philosophies, origins of life, bullying, same sex only education, STEM, or any of the thousands of other questions of importance the fact is these are all accommodated every day in the market place.
The question really boils down to whether we can be trusted to look after our own...if you need help please get it but accept that the vast majority of Missourians are able to care for themselves. The market works in so many other areas of life, let's allow it to improve the education of children.