E. Wesley — Mackinac Center Intern
Drastic and collective solutions have drastic and collective consequences. Everyone knows that the best way to lose a needle is to drop it in a haystack. Or from nature, the zebra knows that the best way to protect itself from the lion is to group together with other zebras. The principle is simple: where there is a collective group, the individual loses its distinction.
However counterintuitive this may seem, politics nearly always seems to prefer to deal with issues on a collective level rather than on an individual basis. As a result, the implications of public policy are often a mixed bag. Education is no exception. This Tuesday, the Michigan State Board of Education approved a stricter system for accreditation (Michigan Schools…). School accreditation entails meeting test score minimums, having certified teachers, etc. According to the new standard, schools that undergo three consecutive years without accreditation will face penalties, even to the extent of closing. It is estimated that more than 100 schools will fail to meet the standard. As is apparent, the consequences of this decision are both drastic and collective. Some schools live; others die.
There is another way to both raise school academics without closing large groups of schools: privatization. This is a big word, I know, but it really is very simple. If we released schools from the chains of collective bureaucracy, we would see more individuality. If we let individual schools themselves control funding without state funding, schools would be a lot freer to make money as they see fit. In so doing, our children would get better education. Teachers would teach better if they knew that getting paid required working hard and not just lobbying for more taxpayer money. School executives would be careful not to make mistakes in administration, because parents might get angry and withdraw their financial support. Even taxpayers would benefit. Right now, $13,378,906,800 of our $43,828,671,300 state budget is devoted to school aid (state budget). That’s about 33% of all state budgeted spending! If the state gave all of that money back to taxpayers, on the whole, people would be financially capable of financing their own children’s education at schools who are dedicated to give the best education at the cheapest price (after all, the schools would have to be pretty nice to us, if they wanted to stay alive). The parents, not the government, would be calling the shots. Would we prefer to have the government just take our money to spend on education as they see fit, or do we want to be in charge of how our children are educated?