If someone asked me how to solve our economic problems, I would respond, “Do nothing.” I believe in free markets; therefore, the market participants should act based on their preferences, not mine. But I know of one thing we should stop doing. We should stop all government involvement in schools.
We should close all government schools at the state and local levels and eliminate all education departments at state, local and federal levels. All government-backed student loan programs should cease immediately.
Let the market decide what to put in the place of the current school system.
And these would be the beneficiaries:
Students would become the customers of the new schools, rather than being the products of government indoctrination. Disruptive classmates would no longer interfere with students who wanted to learn for the disruptors would no longer be forced to attend these institutions.
Students seeking higher education would have to be more thoughtful in choosing schools and majors. Serious students would no longer be surrounded by attendees who had their frivolous activities financed by government loans.
Parents, the guardians and agents of the students, would now play an active role in choosing schools and deciding on curricula. This would force many passive parents to grow up and take responsibility for their offspring.
Parents only seeking subsidized daycare could look for inexpensive alternatives to keep their kids off the streets and out of trouble during their work hours.
Because of the involvement of students and parents at all levels, the quality of education offered would increase dramatically.
Elementary schools would have to provide learning environments based on the desires of parents.
High schools would be populated with students who actually learned something in elementary school. These schools would only advance students who had met the performance criteria for the school. They would only give diplomas to students who had earned them.
Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities would have to provide courses that help students learn how to think and communicate. Vigorous debate would be encouraged, and students’ thinking would be subject to challenge.
Colleges and universities engaged in various types of research would have to do so based on market demands. The political pressure derived from subsidized tuition would no longer influence researchers.
School financing requires a particularly close examination. The most significant criminal activity in the country provides financing for education. The government takes the personal property of individuals and uses it to finance schools that perform poorly, teachers who play the role of propagandists, and government-supported research programs in colleges and universities.
Government would be prohibited from providing any financial support to educational institutes. They would no longer provide loan guarantees for students, and they would no longer provide research grants for professors. (If government needed research on any subject, it would have to be done outside the University environment.)
Some people might ask, “Who’s going to finance this market-based education system?” And “What about low-income students?”
To these questions, I would respond that the market is filled with people supporting good education. Lower-income families at all levels could find sources of education financing in the form of loans, grants, or work-and-pay programs.
The quality of teachers, in general, would improve. Those who held teaching jobs simply for “security” would either leave or be fired. Quality teachers would be attracted to the profession because it would be more about education than indoctrination. Many competent teachers who had retired or left the profession would be more inclined to return to an environment where learning was now essential.
All involvement of government in education would cease.
School boards at the local level would shut down. Education departments at the state level would shut down. The US Department of Education would be closed.
Teachers’ unions play a huge role in the government’s involvement in schooling. They are a significant influence in the election of school boards, state education departments, and federal legislators. Unions might appear in free-market schools, but the role would be in support of education and not in support of government departments and political officeholders.
Why would all these educational changes improve the economy?
All the changes I suggest would have short-term and long-term positive effects on the economy. These changes would place students at the center of the education system. The system would, by necessity, have to respond to the needs of students instead of the needs of government officials, school boards, and teachers’ unions before students.
The guardians/agents of students would now have to make decisions about the potential utility of education. Learning to take responsibility for one of the most important activities in their lives would hopefully cause them to examine their responsibility for other decisions in their lives.
In short, education would be designed to fulfill the needs of students. The rest of the elements of the school system would have to align with that design.
Learning about responsibility would affect parents immediately and their children for the rest of their lives.