For the second time in as many years, my local school board – which governs the education of my children – is threatening job action, potentially a long term strike, in response to the government’s threat to make changes to the educational system based on professional recommendations.
Those recommendations come as a response to failures perpetuated by the unionized teachers, elected school boards, and Department of Education, all of which have combined to see the education that our students receive degrade, resulting in lower-than-average test scores.
Because one of the recommendations offered suggests abolishing elected school boards, a general theory has emerged among the public that the long-term goal of government is to privatize education entirely, sparking fear among the populace at large.
But I say bring it on.
If the end goal of these recommendations is a private, competitive education system, then I’m all for it. Anything government does, the private sector does better, and it would be wonderful to have that improvement applied to our kids’ education.
Obviously the fear felt by the public revolves around potential costs, as private schools are known to charge exorbitant tuition. Given today’s educational climate, those fears are valid – how many among us can afford between $15,000 and $25,000 per year for our children’s education, especially if we have more than one child?
But therein lies the catch and the beauty of the free market: while very few of us could afford private education today, allow swaths of new private schools to open across the region and watch competition and the free market suddenly make it affordable for the vast majority of us. Go a step further and have government subsidize those who can’t, lower taxes on all of us, and we’re better off than we were, not only financially, but also with the quality of education that we’re able to provide our children.
Unfortunately, the transition itself could be difficult; how exactly does a large, heavily populated region make such a drastic change without adversely affecting both students and parents?
Enter the charter school, representing the halfway point between public and private education.
Charter schools are institutions that receive government funding but operate independently of a government established school system, using public asset privatization to allow parents and students to have a say in the type of curriculum and structure that suits them best.
If we were to use the example of charter schools to tack on a subsidization for private institutions and/or government subsidies provided privately for all but the very wealthy as we make the transition to an entirely private education system, along with lower income taxes for all as a result as the massive savings the government would enjoy, a private model could not only be affordable, but even cost families less in the end.
As I said, bring it on.