The bottom line is that more than $147 billion in federal “education stimulus” will prolong the dysfunctional qualities of the United States education system. It is one of the most expensive and most mediocre K-12 systems in the world. Throwing more money at public schools without addressing the problems inherent in the system – lack of accountability and lack of competition – will simply drive up education costs with little to show for the money. The best outcome would be to avoid a federal education bailout altogether. However, if an education stimulus is inevitable, it should at least demand some concessions from the education establishment before doling out $120 billion. Here are a few suggestions: 1. Only give money to school districts whose labor unions agree to “flat contracts” that offer flexible employee practices such as firing for “just cause” and are willing to suspend seniority and tenure in exchange for merit-pay. 2. Only give money to school districts that will report transparent budget numbers at the “school level” so parents and taxpayers can see how much money a school spends on education in real dollars and not district averages. It is important to know how much money is siphoned off at district offices and for administrative costs – and how much money actually makes it into the classroom. 3. Prioritize money for, or give incentives to, districts that attach per-pupil funding to the backs of children, letting parents choose the public school (or dare I say charter or private school) that best suits their child. If the government is going to give the money away anyway, it might as well empower parents and teachers rather than the status quo, which is failing miserably.
Read the whole column here.