The Education Burden

February 17th, 2018

Education is a bright spot along a frequently dark spectrum of governmental expenditures. Numerous methods have been utilized to make compulsory schooling – the great equalizer – a viable and vibrant advantage of life in the United States. An education is an advantage not to be lost when circumstances change for an individual. However, the various privileges with which the federal and state governments endow our schools presents new challenges in light of present day realities. Block grants to schools will likely cease or be drastically reduced while state funds will not increase to make up the differential. We must then remember the purposes for mandated school enrollment so changes remain in line with present and future needs, rather than habits of recent years.

Let’s think of users of regular school facilities as consumers of formal education (CFE). Those families who want to create the path by which their children will acquire learning will be termed users of Learning Options (LO).

Among the major worries of purveyors of today’s CFE options are:

1. High property taxes dedicated to the schools in a country concerned with a debt presumed to have driven up personal and business taxes. The sole purpose of federal taxes appears to return monies to the States for earmarked programs and pay interest on borrowed funds. Property taxes for failing schools impede the ability of the elderly on fixed incomes to keep property that took so many years of mortgage payments to own.

2. Submitting one’s children to State control during the school day where everything from medical protocols, (vaccine schedules), to course content is often outside expressed parental desires.

3. Parents who arrange their childrens’ outside contacts via play dates and supervised sports activities are often unable to end bullying by children lawfully ensconced in the same classrooms. Not all teachers are qualified to shape youngsters within groups fundamentally incompatible in learning abilities, personalities and parental visions of the future.

4. Parents must observe large class sizes that hold their children to a slowed learning pace in some areas while curriculum may outpace their children in other portions of learning. An increasing incidence in developmental learning disabilities also alters educational outcomes when teaching methods come in a ‘one size fits all’ package.

5. School boards may fail qualitatively when they believe increased budgets and more seats on school boards are an answer to all problems in education.

6. Curriculums are often dedicated to gaining entry to colleges instead of teaching skills for life and preparation for jobs/careers. Students believe failure to enter a costly two to four year track of university attendance is a personal, life-long censure.

We might add to this list all day long but those dubious of CFE choices need to view these problems in a new light. Rather than address shortcomings in governmental control of education, at least half of American families should prepare to end a means of dependency upon the state by creating their own educational programs, tailored to the personal needs of the family constellation. That would alter the entire nature of compulsory schooling into creative educational models that are approved by, but independent of the State, for children up to the age of sixteen. The teaching profession would cease to apply standard forms of professional models and reliance upon mass-produced text books. Rather, teachers would prepare for careers in state funded schools and/or private home school modules.

How might this revolution, (or devolution), in education work? I propose the period of 2/18 through 8/18 serve as a preparatory period for the new model. Parents interested in notifying their school boards that they plan to withdraw their children from school as of September, 2018 should do so by March 31 of this year. That allows schools to determine their 2018-2019 per capita income immediately for re-tooling of school seats needed in their districts. Should half of the parents with school aged children withdraw from a CFE, numerous schools will prepare for closure and districts will combine their remaining resources. Bussing schedules diminish in number but likely become longer in duration as inner city school children joined perimeter area schools and vice-versa.

Teacher unions would prepare for cuts in school staffing and introduce novel ways to have member teachers hired by home school modules as independent contractors. Tenured teachers would have first choice of public school positions. New insurance and supplemental retirement investments might be invented for both groups.

Parents would have the potential to hire teachers in areas they feel unqualified to supervise, from chemistry to economics. Clergy and graduate students in various universities might add to the pool of paid and voluntary teaching staff in specialized areas such as philosophy. Religion will also be an optional component in the case of LO parents. Special needs children might best be served in magnet public schools, given the prior successes of charter school models funded to educate the disabled. The charter schools might well be disbanded should their staff and areas of expertise be transferred to the public sector.

A four day school week might be adequate for new, smaller class sizes leaving buildings open a fifth day for science labs and school library usage by LO parents, whose taxes remain invested in the CFE model. Principals would have to prepare for a caseload of home schoolers to survey progress in meeting basic competencies. Again, their salaries would reflect that demand as the need for full time principles dwindle in public school facilities.

Text book companies would have new prospects in widening their publishing houses as their old products become less used. I have a vision for an entirely new method of preparing text books and source materials that should be discussed with appropriate investors at a later date.

Parents who have taken upon themselves that hardest job, creating new life and generations of builders, need to own the responsibility of self-determination in education. That does not erase the need to be concerned about the education of your neighbors or for the childless to cease to contribute to the advantages of living in an educated society. Still, this remodeling of education in a manner that can halve costs and reduce taxes, reveals what education means in the most fundamental sense of the word.

While some LO parents may desire their children to gain traditional high school diplomas, others may remove their children from the high school track entirely at sixteen. Eqivalency diplomas may even be earned at sixteen by home schoolers. When colleges and universities adopt an open approach to enrollment – requiring only proof of ability to perform in college classes – the period from 16 to 18 years of age might be taken up with advanced placement classes, internships and/or paid employment to save for college tuition. The teen years abbreviated, self-determination begins with parents and children working together to build a future within and between families with similiar aims.

In summary, adults living in democracies place a great deal of dependency upon the State for child-rearing. That dependency includes the use of school premises for child care and indoctrination in the prevailing culture. Now that literacy rates are near a hundred percent, that degree of dependence upon the State is overblown and detracts from the vision held by the founding fathers. Comining old and new ideologies in education, the next generations of American children will not need to be divided by prevailing educational gaps. Concerned parents invested in the public school classrooms ought to ensure that a parent volunteer is present in every room on a daily basis before taking issue with school board decisions. Common core lessons taught by computer technology ought to be heard by parents as well. Otherwise, those lessons might as well be performed at home and reduce school budgets.

Barbara Rubin, M.A.

Former teacher and author of the free booklet, ‘A Fearless Classroom’ at Lulu dot com.

Author of the Amazon Kindle thriller, ‘The Escargot Series’

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