The New Democrat Online

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Small Schools Big Reforms: Big Reform for the American Public Education System



Click on the link of the blog to watch a video about Public Education Reform in NYC

Part 3 of the FRSFreeState plan to put americans back to work

Public Education Reform is a huge part of putting the American Economy back to work because of how far we've come down to around 39th in the World. If we are not producing the workers of the future, at risk of sounding corny. With our Public Education System, then are workers in the future won't have the skills that they need to get good jobs down the road. And will have to settle for a tough Full Time jobs that doesn't pay the bills by itself. Plus a Part Time job or multiple Part Time jobs because they don't have the skills that they need to advance professionally. Public Education Reform might not pay benefits until down the road but is something that we have to do in order to have a strong economy in the future, with high Economic Growth which produces high Job Growth. We don't have a choice when it comes to Public Eduction, just like we don't have a choice when it comes to addressing our deficit and debt. We have to reform our Public Education System in order to have a strong economy in the future. Just like we have to get our deficit and debt under control, because we'll be paying for our deficit and debt whether we want to or not. Its just a question of how, on our own terms where we make the decisions. Or under the terms of International Banks.

The way I see it as a blogger who thinks about these issues a lot, some might say too much. But thats a different discussion, is that we need to reform Public Education on four levels. Teachers, paying teachers to teach the subjects that they are qualified to teach and pay them for their Quality of Service not Time of Service. That means doing away with Teacher Tenure, which will perhaps the toughest battle to win. Because of Teacher Unions, who do an excellent job of representing their clients, Public Teachers. But what's in their interest isn't always in the best interest of the students who's interest comes first when it comes to their education. Another area should be Public School Choice, allowing parents to send their kids to the school that they believe is best for them and their education. Not be forced to send their kids to a school even if its awful, just because of where they live. The Federal Government can be a big help in encouraging Public School Choice as well as funding it. Because some students will automatically end up with longer rides to school and that means more Gas Money. We also need to reform how we fund our Public Schools. The Federal Government can help here by first fully funding all of its mandates that its passed down to the States, like Special Education. Then it can help fund Low Income Public Schools that are underfunded. Then we need to expand access for Higher Education by helping save for college for themselves and their kids.

When it comes to our Public Educators, first they should only be teaching subjects that they have expertise in. For example History Majors teaching history, English Majors teaching english, Math Majors teaching math etc. Then we need to pay educators for their Quality of Service not Time of Service. Eliminating Teacher Tenure, rewarding good teachers with better pay and Career Advancement. Better starting salary's for all of our educators, to encourage more well educated people to go into the Education Profession. Encourage good educators to teach in Low Income areas that have underfunded Public Schools.
We also need to expand School Choice in our Public Schools, allowing parents to send their kids to the school thats best for them. Instead of based on where they live. That also means more Charter Schools that are Public Schools but operated independently. Which would mean that Public Schools would no longer be guaranteed students just because they are a Public School. Just like Private Schools, meaning they would have to compete with Public as well as Private Schools for their students every year to get students. Meaning that some Low Performing Public Schools might end up getting shut down, because no one once to go there. Because they are not doing a good job.

We should also reform how we fund our Public Schools, right now we fund our Public Schools based on State and Local Property Taxes. Which is fine for Upper and Middle Class School Districts, because they get the funding that they need to have good schools. But Low Income School Districts where there isn't a lot of people who own property. Or property that doesn't have a lot of Financial Value, don't get the funding that they need to have enough good schools. The Federal Government can help with this creating a service that would help fund under served School Districts. I would make this service independent of the Federal Government but still owned by them. Thats Self Sufficient and Self Financed, that would pay for lets say 20% of the costs of our Public Schools. This service would be a service or Non Profit corporation with its own Management and Board of Directors. That would take and accept Funding Requests from School Districts around the country that are underfunded or have faced Budget Cuts. This service would be just provide funds to Schools Districts not pass down or enforce mandates. That could be funded through a Federal Property Tax or something like that. But give out funds based on need not location unlike State and Local Property Taxes. And then we could cut taxes somewhere else so there isn't a net Middle Class Tax Increase. A National Infrastructure Bank would also be a help in funding underfunded Public Schools.

Then we should expand Higher Education for all of our Higher Ed qualified students in America. Especially for the students who can't afford college on their own and can't afford enough College Loans to go t college. Or come from family's that can't afford to send them to college. Again we could create a Non Profit corporation or service from the Federal Government. That again would be independent of the Federal Government with its own Management and Board of Directors. But still owned by the feds, that would help people pay for their college. The average Higher Education was 100K$ a four year education, its probably more then that now. Meaning if parents start saving for their kids education the day that they are born. They have eighteen years to save up for their kids Higher Education if they don't go in the military. Thats at least 5.500K$ a year per student 106$ a week per student. We could fund this College Savings Plan, with like a voluntary Payroll Tax. No one would have to sign up for it, that would come out of workers Pay Checks and their employers would cover the other part of the fee. As well as parents would be able to put away additional income into this Savings Plan. From Financial Investments into this Savings Plan at Tax Free as well as the interest. As long as they don't spend it on anything else. Employers and workers would cover at least half of the College Costs and then the students and their future employers would cover up to 50% of the remaining costs. At least 25% for the workers, employers, students and future employers. Low Income workers could get their Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC expanded to help pay for their kids Higher Ed costs.

Like I said education in America needs to be reformed in multiple areas, better educators, better paid educators, Public School Choice, better funding for our Public Schools and expanded Higher Ed access. For our economy in the future to be strong with high Economic and Job Growth. We have to produce the students in the future that will be qualified to take these good jobs.