For education policy I am a big fan of Brian Caplan. (Check out his book: The Case Against Education.) These, however, are my opinions. The role of public education is simple. Teach the basic 3R’s so that every individual can, if he or she chooses, participate in the political process. Anything more constitutes a subsidy. Yes, a subsidy, as in crony capitalism. The public does not benefit very much from teaching the kid down the street how to be a lawyer, accountant, teacher, engineer, etc. Who benefits? ….the kid down the street. Keep it simple: Those who benefit should pay for the service.
Parents know their children best. If you want better parents, put them in charge of picking the type and quality of their children’s education. Public money should follow the parents. Incentivize parents. If their child is book smart, they will find the money in their budget for a good school.
Sure, I hear you, what about the kid growing up in a poor family? Three things. First, don’t underestimate the ambition of poor parents to find a better life for their children or the ambition of the child to escape his or her situation. Secondly, don’t mishmash education policy with poverty policy. If there is one thing we know for certain, government run schools in poor neighborhoods have not helped kids escape poverty. Education savings accounts, tax credit scholarships or vouchers should do the trick. Third, families, churches, friends and neighborhood institutions do great work. They really are the heroes fighting poverty. Why? Because they know us. Some kids just need a little tutoring; some kids are destined for greatness and some kids need to grow up. Let’s start putting our faith in the little platoons.