Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Political Issues: Education

Education is a hard one to cover. Not being an educator (being a parent doesn't count in this instance), I don't have experience with the day to day things that may make a difference between a good education and a great one. However, on a broader level, I do have some ideas that I think would help.

1) Vouchers: I know that teachers unions, etc have tried to make that a dirty word but I believe that the money from taxpayers should follow the students. Parents should be able to pick any school and get the same funding for their child as they would if their child was in public school. The goes for public schools, private schools, charter schools, parochial schools, and any other schools. If we create a level playing field, then the best schools are going to get the students and the lesser schools will either have to improve or they will lose all of their funding. I think that competition will be a good thing for our kids.

2) Teacher Certifications: I feel that all teachers in the state should have the same base credentials. All teachers, whether for public, private, charter, or other type of school, should be required to have their teacher certification. It's not fair for our kids to have lower standards for teachers if they are teaching outside of public schools.

3) Merit Pay for Teachers: The best teachers should be encouraged to stay in the classroom, not move into administration. Those are two different talents. However, administration currently pays much better. For those teacher whose students consistently score well on standardized tests and have a well run classroom should get better salaries. This will encourage teachers to try harder as well as help keep the better teachers in the classroom where they can do the most good.

4) School Administrator Salary Caps: Administrators shouldn't be making six figure salaries while teachers are so underpaid. I think that administration salaries should be capped at 30% or so higher than the average teacher salary in that school or district (depending on the position). A feasibility study would have to be done to find the most effective level for the cap but a cap should be in place all the same. If combined with merit pay for teachers, this would encourage administrators to hire effective teachers as their salaries could go up if they have more highly paid teachers.

Of course all of these suggestions would have to be carefully studied in order to make sure that we don't get well intentioned policy that is fundamentally flawed. That said, something needs to be done and the status quo isn't helping our children.

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