(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Just a quick note on Jason’s post from earlier today– I totally agree that it is premature to draw firm conclusions concerning the potential of voluntary exchange in education from our charter school experience.
So the traditional public school system sadly falls in the lower right hand quadrant- little market discipline to go along with an all to often captured governance structure. Charter schools certainly qualify as a quasi-market mechanism that attempts to realize gains through voluntary association. However on the above chart they are basically trying to move K-12 education from the bottom right quadrant over towards the bottom left- and imperfectly so. Voucher programs basically attempt to do the same.
We are trying to nudge things towards the upper-left with multiple uses and college savings in an ESA program. In other words, we are trying to create an incentive for parents to exercise the same care with ESA funds that they would with their own money.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Yes, I think someone made that case somewhere…
Yep and even earlier…
Believe it or not, this point is so simple that even that dummy Aristotle got it. Read the critique of “communal property” systems in Book II of the Politics, this is basically it.
If Aristotle was a dummy I may have to nominate Plato for a Higgy.
Top.Men. my foot
Actually, the first intellectual to make the point was Caveman Bob, during the Paleozoic Period:
“Me spend animal pelts on self, good. Other spend pelts on other, bad.”
We had the matrix in our original piece and they took it out!
As usual Milton Friedman and his disciples are “on the money”. The principal objective of most school bureaucrats is to get paid regardless of what they produce and to do things at their convenience not the child’s or parents’. Our special needs child, for example, spent four years in our county’s schools and learned little. Then the district agreed to provide staff for a home-based program. Over the last three years they misused taxpayer dollars by sending for the most part instructors who could neither relate to nor teach our child. We parents repeatedly told them the instructor profile that had worked in the past. The bureaucrats ignored us.
To add insult to injury, the schools oftentimes let weeks and sometimes months pass with no qualified instructor, thus violating the child’s IEP and federal and state law. Although we won a state complaint for non-compliance, all the state could do was to require an IEP team meeting where we could voice our concerns and recommend remedies. The meeting was held. The teachers and administrators rejected all of our parental suggestions. The paraprofessional with whom our child spent 80 percent of her school day was not permitted to attend despite our request. Imagine how different the discussion would have been if we parents had the option of getting school funds to send our child to a different school or to obtain instructional services on our own or to obtain the services of our own special education attorney.
Schools understand the language of money, especially if it’s to be directed elsewhere due to poor performance. Therefore, to incent better performance ESEA and IDEA (special education) should require states to see to it that public schools that have failed children pay parents to obtain educational services on their own should they so choose. Or let them bank it for another day or enhance current services (“education savings account”). Of course, such legislation would have to define “failure” and the “cost” associated with the provision of particular services for children with particular characteristics or disabilities (e.g. limited English proficient, low income, type of disability). Many districts already calculate these costs with what they call a “weighted student average” that determines the amount of money the child brings to the school s/he attends.
Rather than continuing to pay schools for failure through more funds for professional development, teacher aides, technology and the like, legislation should make it possible to pay the parents when schools continually fail their child.