Efficiency is key to the success of any economic endeavor. The reason I’m a conservative is because logically that is where economic efficiency is best found. Let’s face it, the liberal bureaucratic bound approach to all of life’s issues requiring potential monetary endowments also represents the antithesis of efficiency. I defy a single Liberal to step forward and explain the logic behind the socialist economic theories liberalism espouses, let alone provide examples of how those theories can actually create efficiency.Last year I ran for an open school board position in the district where I live. I was a literal unknown challenger in a group that included an incumbent, an existing member of the District Finance Committee, and a former Board President. Needless to say I was a long shot. Even though I didn’t win I still managed a good showing, even beating out the former Board President. The reason I was able to do as well as I did was because of my approach. I didn’t waste time demonizing my opponents or any particular group such as the teachers union. Instead, I focused my message on the concept of creating true efficiency within the district.Efficiency comes in many flavors. The teachers union openly feared me because they also fear the word efficiency. Understandably, the reason is that whenever they hear that word it typically translates either into layoffs, pay cuts, or both. However, had they actually listened to my message, they would have realized that approach wasn’t necessarily the efficiency I was talking about. That type of efficiency is what I call the cheap status quo model. For example, how cheap can I get by when negotiating on copier paper when the real question should be what other options are there to send out information other than in printed form? When it came to our district I was seeking to think beyond just the simple cheaper status quo model. I was seeking to rethink everything we do, not just negotiate a cheaper price on things we may not even need in the first place.When it comes to our schools we must start doing better. We are already screwing over our heirs when it comes to burdening them with the disastrous results of our approach on overspending and debt. I see no reason why they must also suffer at the hands of a failed approach to education as well. The current system we have is an unmitigated disaster. We are relying on a model that was created nearly a century ago. It is a system that is so outdate, over bloated, over controlled, and inefficient that actual learning takes a back seat to far too many other self serving and inefficient agenda’s. Furthermore, it fails to meet the skill set required for the modern workforce.In 1979 President Carter created the Department of Education thus placing oversight over the nation’s educational system under federal control. His idea was that he could fix all of our educational ills and make everything “equal” at the same time. Instead it proved to be a huge mistake. We currently have twice as many people working in our public educational system today as we did in 1970. At the same time our public school enrollment has only gone up by 8.5%. Even after adjusting for inflation we dump exponentially more dollars per student into public education than we did in 1970 yet test scores haven’t budged in all those years. If anything, we’ve gone down in our educational rankings against the rest of the world. In the mean time the bureaucracy that Carter created is so overwhelming that attempting to make any significant structural changes is like trying to turn around a battleship in a fishing pond. If you attempt any movement at all you’ll only find yourself sinking further in the muck.
The first thing we need to do to right this ship is to get rid of the Department of Education and send that function back to the states. Not only will that unload a huge layer of unnecessary bureaucracy, but in all honesty, those that have the best interest of the children are those that can be found closest to the children themselves. That means even the state should surrender the bulk of control back to the local districts. After all, it’s the parents within the district that care the most for the educational welfare of their own children. Yes, I get the whole concept of economic disparity, but what we are talking about here is control. The best method for equalizing the economic disparity and also provide parental control at the same time is through a voucher system whereby parents are granted choices and quality is promoted through competition.The answer we’ve always gotten ever since Carter took over education is that rather than actually addressing the real needs of our kids, we simply need to continually pour an ever increasing amount of money into an ever increasing bureaucracy that does nothing to fix our failing schools. However, there is no model whatsoever that proves such a correlation between money and a quality education actually exists. When kids in 3rd world countries are proving everyday that it’s possible to learn even in grass huts and bombed out buildings than more money isn’t the answer. When it does come to money we need to get personal agenda’s out of education. It makes no logical sense whatsoever for a district to be forced to pay a gym teacher and a chemistry teacher on the same pay scale. There is no logical reason for denying parents choices when it comes to their kid’s educational opportunities simply based on personal income either. For their part parents do need to become more active participants in their child’s education instead of viewing schools as nothing more than glorified daycares. Practically every study out there confirms that the single biggest factor in the quality of our schools is parental participation.
We need to modernize our approach to education in general. That means we need to stop simply teaching to a standardized test. Yes, it’s important that our kids understand things like reading and writing. However, much of what is being taught today isn’t really learning as much as it is memorization in order to pass those standardized test. What we should really be teaching our kids is critical thinking skills. We need to understand and accept that in the modern world things are changing at such an incredible rate that much of what a freshman learns today won’t even be relevant by the time they graduate. Therefore, we need to be teaching them the skills necessary to perpetually adapt to an ever changing environment. We can’t do that by being wed to an antiquated inefficient model.There seems to be universal agreement that what we are currently facing is an educational crisis in much the same manner as we are facing a very real debt crisis. In both cases there are sound answers that can be found simply by looking to both logic and efficiency to find the answers. We are already threatening to enslave the next generation to the will of our debt holders. There’s no sane reason that we should also be taking tomorrow’s potential leaders and turning them into the menial labor force of a foreign master as well.Mark Etterling