Thursday, April 23, 2015

Higher Taxes & More Spending Will Not Improve Public Education

If higher taxes and more spending on Public Education was the answer to improving Public Education, then California should have the best Public Schools in the world, when in fact most of their Public Schools stink.  The problem is not the need for more money to improve schools, especially since the United States spends more on Public Education than any other industrialized country in the world; yet achieves poorer results.  The issue is the misallocation of the monies already spent and a broken business model. 

We don't need all the levels of the education bureaucracy.  The Federal Department of Education, created when Jimmy Carter was President, as a pay off to the teacher unions, can and should be eliminated.  The Billions of dollars used to pay those bureaucrats could be used to pay Merit Pay to great teachers, among many other uses that would actually impact the classroom.  We have to get rid of all the layers in the education bureaucracy at the Federal, State and Local level to build more classrooms and even lower class size, if that is deemed beneficial.  If the Federal Government wants to support local Public Education, it can be done through Block Grants directly to Schools Districts based on a per student basis, perhaps providing a little more per student for inner city schools.   Local school districts are then in the best position to determine how to spend the money, since they are closest to the classroom.

Further, we must look at total compensation and benefits for teachers.   To pay higher base salaries, other benefits must be adjusted.   Too much is being spent on health and pension benefits at the cost of monthly salaries.  This should be adjusted to attract and retain talent.  A starting teacher in some districts cannot live on $32,000 a year.   To get this starting salary up and all salaries up, less should be paid for other benefits.   This is what happens in business all the time as total compensation and benefits are designed to achieve the most bang for the buck. 

Teacher tenure should be eliminated, or modified to make it easier to fire bad teachers.  It should not take a year or two to fire a teacher.   While fair and proper procedures should be implemented as occurs in business, a Principal should be able to fire a bad teacher in 90 days with proper evaluation and notice.  At the same time, the same Principal should be able to award Merit Pay to really outstanding teachers.  

Finally, School Choice should be the law of the land so that poor parents can get their kids out of failing public schools, the same as occurs with rich parents.  We need more competition to improve Public Schools, particularly in our inner cities.  It will not happen any other way.  Clearly, higher taxes and more spending on Public Education, advocated by Socialists and RINOS, will do little to improve our schools.  Instead, all of these reforms and more are necessary to get the job done. 

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