Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Education

There is probably not a single parent or student alive who is happy about the public education system in the US and for good reason. The academic performance of students in the United States is not improving and is getting worse relative to other countries.  And like every other problem, thousands of people are proposing solutions. Sadly these "solutions" are simply throwing money at the problem and hoping it goes away. As a nation, we have been trying this solution and the sane among us have come to the forgone conclusion that it doesn't work. Let us bring to light some solutions that solve the problem, rather than strengthen the Educational Legislative Complex *Eisenhower rolls in grave*.


  • Make it easier to become a teacher
Often times, people with real world experience, being economically fulfilled, think to themselves that they want to give back to their community. They want to spread the knowledge and experience that they got throughout their careers. They take one look at become an educator and are turned back immediately. Why? By the time they get their credentials they wouldn't want to teach anymore. In order to get your credentials, it takes a full year and a half after which you will work as an intern for two to three years. Does it really take that long to retrain a professional to become a teacher?
  • Remove tenure for compulsory education
In college, a professor should be free to study controversial topics and challenge their adult students in provocative ways. That is the purpose of tenure, to give professors liberty in teaching. These same reasons don't apply in the pre-college world. In post-secondary education, tenure is seen as a "keep up the good work" award, but when it comes to high school and lower it becomes a "you've made it" award. By giving a teacher tenure, you are giving them job security. Once you do that, there is no way to fire an inept or lazy teacher.
  • Free up the market
Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and the government decided to nationalize the fast food industry. Another rule is that you can only go to the fast food place in your geographic zone. You will pay for it through taxes, but you have to eat there, even if there is better food elsewhere. This doesn't make any sense for fast food, so why should it make sense for education? Under the current system, there is no accountability. If you are unhappy with your school, you can file a "complaint" that will be taken under "consideration". 

  • Issue Merit Based pay
Competent teachers should be compensated better that incompetent ones. The process is simple. Make two tests, one in the beginning of the year and one in the end. The difference in score multiplied by constants for income of parents and other socially significant factors, is how much the teachers get paid. Teachers will suddenly see a direct correlation between time spent working with students and their pay checks. 

These are all systemic changes that will not cost a dime. For a more exhaustive study on this topic, here is a documentary made by John Stossel.

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