In Tanzania, in east Africa, this is the way the people manage their educational system. Every student is required to go to school, but only if the family pays for the education from first grade through completion of high school. If the student chooses to go to a post-secondary school, such as a university, the government then pays for that schooling.
Tanzanians pay an average of $150 a year for a student to go to public schooling. In some cases, this fee also covers room and board as well. One student’s dad, who was a tailor, sold his only electric sewing machine to pay the annual fee for his son to go to school for a year. I don’t know too many Americans who would sell off part of their livelihood to pay for their student’s yearly tuition to public school.
Currently, we have a problem with a very high dropout rate in high school. We also have a problem with parents not following up on the progress of their student through the system. I think it would be a good idea if the current law requiring students to attend school until they reach the age of 17 or 18, were to stay in place and the parents had to pay a fee for their student to go to public school. We would see a better performance on the part of the students as their parents would have a very personal buy-in into the educational system. In short, they would want to see results for their investment. The scale for parents to pay would be based on family income, number of dependents, etc., to make the fee fair for all. It wouldn’t really be another tax. Something Gibbons can’t stand is any new taxes. This would be a shift in the way educational tax is collected, not really a new tax at all.
Additionally, if the students did well on tests, grades, attendance, etc., then the fee that parents pay would be reduced by a factor based on student performance. This would be an incentive for students to do well in school and for parents to ensure that their student is successful in school. Everyone likes a reduction in costs, of course. If the student falls below the established standards, then there would be an incremental increase in the fees paid by the parents for that student’s education until such time as the student once again met the average performance standards as outlined above.
Special education students would have goals as well just as they currently have in their individual education plan as mandated by the federal government.
If a student graduates from public school with a certain grade point average, they would be in line for further scholarships as well. The state government would pay all costs for the student to attend any state university, community college or trade school once the student had successfully graduated from the Nevada public school system.
Federal money would still factor into the Nevada educational system just as it does today. Money from federal workers such as military people, etc., would still factor into the educational coffers of the state as well as money for special educational students and other programs.
The main crux of this program is that the parents would be responsible for their student until they graduated from the public school system. Thus, not only teachers would be held responsible for the student’s progress, but now the parents and the student would be responsible for his or her overall performance. Our good Republican Gov. Gibbons, being the educational guru that he is, having acquired a law degree, being an Air Force pilot, a commercial aviation pilot and now governor of the great state of Nevada, would certainly see the value of such an educational system for Nevada. Never mind the fact that it is currently being used by a third-world country; the way Nevada is going, it won’t be long before we Nevadans won’t be much above third-world status anyway with the current leadership we have at the state level – at least, in the administration of our educational system that is.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.