Public Education: Funded, Run and Graded by Government (of course it’s failing)
The government cannot collect and manage education dollars, while being the sole provider of public education. It’s poor policy in general and has provided ruinous results for the taxpayers. Moving past the constitutionality of such a system, let’s ask ourselves whether it can deliver results.
Currently the government serves as tax collector, teacher, administrator, lobbyist and grader of the result- all while paying itself, its departments, and its bureaucratic and union staff. That is not best institutional practice, for any institution.
We recognized this behavior as monopolistic in private ventures—having the deleterious effect of suppressing competition while jacking up prices– over 100 years ago, but have yet to ask government to play by the same rules they require for everyone else.
If corporations, like say the telephone company, were allowed to run in the same way, the outcry would be general.
This federal education monopoly presents the main problem both with the general quality of public education our children receive, and the desire of the government to manage within its own budget.
The government really has no accountability in public education as it holds a complete monopoly of funding and service provision. Sure, you could say that the government is held accountable to the public through elections. But as Truman correctly asserted in the New Deal, there is a danger bureaucracy becomes the permanent government as bureaucrats retain their post regardless of election.
The idea that government would outsource tax collecting to a non-government entity would seem radical to many.
That may sound as nuts as the thought of the IRS doubling as a revenue collecting agency and a provider of public education- or health insurance premiums.But in essence, the latter is what we have; government collected money operating government run schools.
There are many wonderful professionals who dedicate their lives to teaching our children in public schools. And some are doing a fantastic job. This article is not about dissing teachers or public school employees. Instead, it is a critical observation of a system that prevents teaching professionals from being as effective as possible and children from receiving a high quality education.
I recently had a lengthy conversation with a Master Social Worker (MSW). She was just retired. It was obvious that she enjoyed her job. She began her career because she believed she could help people with her expertise. But as time went on more and more regulations were imposed on her position as she saw more patients on public dole. She found herself spending most of her time filling out meaningless government paperwork rather than actual social work. Most frustrating to her were the forms regarding assorted government aid programs that she was required to complete for each person she saw, regardless of their background.
One day she realized she had been reduced from being a highly respected professional to assuring the correct bubble was filled in completely, and only within the lines- with the government required number two pencil. So, she retired.
Unfortunately, this is the predicament many of our best teachers find themselves in too. In many ways we have reduced our teachers from professionals to government employees, teaching to “Common Core Standards,” state tests, and Race to the Top.
And teachers complain about having to act as state social workers, without the MSW education and training.
None of this will change unless we first rid ourselves of the incestuous collector-provider-oversight relationship that plagues public education. It’s a butt-backwards funding and operating model.
Until we actually reform how public education is delivered and held to account we will yield more of the same in America’s classrooms: expensive politics and uneducated students.