- Reason Awakes -

Public Support for Education K-12

 

Public education through the secondary level is viewed as a legal right at the state level in a number of the states.  While we disapprove of the notion of declaring the provision of any good or service a “right,” the economic and ethical arguments for providing public support for education are very strong and we support continued public support for education at all levels.  


Publicly Supported versus Publicly Provided Education


Public support for education need not mean a publicly provided education.  We believe the jury is still out on whether vouchers or charter schools offer a universally superior alternative to publicly provided education.  For that reason, we support programs to establish experimental voucher systems and charter school systems provided that they are subject to the same standards of transparency, in the form of testing, that the public schools are held to.  If these schools are found to provide a better educational output, then we would favor making them a permanent alternative to publicly provided education.  


We believe that, with voucher programs, it will be necessary to carefully constrain religious institutions from using public money to religiously indoctrinate students.  If no practical way can be found to do this, then we would support banning the use of vouchers for attendance at religious schools. This would be unfortunate because religious schools have been very effective in using limited funds to provide a quality education in poor neighborhoods.


Teacher Compensation and Pay for Performance


Pay for performance is a complex thing in any environment and schools are no exception to this.  Nevertheless, the principle of pay for performance as a vehicle for improving efficiency is well established and we support the application of this technique within the public school system. We also support higher compensation for K-12 teachers, provided that they accept pay for performance, and agree to abandon tenure and collective bargaining.


Longer School Year and Longer School Days


We support greater financial support for primary and secondary schools to lengthen the school year and the school day. There is ample data that proves that these changes improve learning and the retention of learning.


Where Will the Money Come From

We support paying good teachers more and we support longer school days and longer school years. This will cost something. We believe that the additional expense will be met partly by paying poor teachers less, or letting them go,  and partly by the better use of technology in schools to use fewer teachers overall.

 
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