Students don't take school seriously...

Were I in charge of the schools, this is how I would reform them:

1. Get the feds out of education. All having a department of education does is add yet another layer of bureaucracy and make the process of educating youth even more political than it would otherwise be.

2. It's time for real school choice. Most of the "voucher" initiatives are really just a subsidy for people who choose private schools for their kids. It's not that such a subsidy isn't a good idea, just that vouchers don't really do what the proponents say that they will. Instead, let's dissolve all school boundaries. We don't dictate which store we must use to buy groceries, so why should the state dictate which school we must use? Let's allow the parents and students to decide which school to attend.

3. Along with giving the parents the choice of where to send their kids, let's give the school the choice to set standards for achievement. A panel of teachers and parents, similar to the school site councils, could do the job better than the state ever could. Since each school would set individual standards, students would have to live up to those standards, or find another school.

4. The role of the state would be to accredit schools and credential teachers and administrators. Any school that was accredited and hired credentialed teachers and administrators would then be eligible for state funds. Every school would get the same funding, based on the number of students. Schools could choose to operate on the funds given by the state, or charge the parents extra.

5. No one who lacks a minimum of 10 years of successful teaching should be given an administrative credential. Far too many administrators have no real idea what should be happening in the classroom.

6. No teacher would be credentialed without having served at least two years of internship under experienced and successful teachers. All too often, young and enthusiastic people are given a piece of paper for having attended college classes, then thrown to the wolves. More than half of the time, the wolves win and the potential teacher hightails it into an easier line of work.

7. The state would be allowed to keep at most 2% of the education dollar for the purpose of credentialing teachers and accrediting schools. The other 98%+ would go directly to individual schools, not to counties or districts as is currently the case.

Such a system would marry the concept of private and public education. Everyone would have a choice, but would have to comply with whatever standards for achievement and behavior the school site council dictated. Schools could choose to set low standards and accept everyone, or set high standards and achieve academic excellence.

At the secondary level, schools would be able to choose a vocational, academic, or general curriculum. Of course, they would have to cover certain basics in order to be accredited, just as the elementary schools would have to do.

All schools would have to teach language arts, of course, including what are currently called "critical thinking skills", such as separating fact from opinion, and using fact to support opinion. They would have to teach mathematics, history and science. The parents would be the ones to decide which school was doing the best job of teaching these things, since they would be the ones deciding which schools to patronize.

Maybe, just maybe, our citizenry would be well enough educated to survive in the 21st. century under such a system. Maybe politicians would be chosen by voters who don't simply vote the party line or base their votes on political advertising.

Could the US compete in the information age if we had such a system? What do you think?