Table of Contents

Funding & Supplies

25. Tuition for Public School Attendance

All parents of children in primary and secondary schools should be required to pay tuition for each child. Tuition raised directly from parents should be set at a rate so that about 50% of the total cost of education is funded by these tuition receipts.  The other 50% would be provided through the general funds of the state and/or local governments (a pool of taxpayers that includes those without kids) because education is a public good that benefits everyone.  One of the more important benefits of tuition would be a greater sense of commitment by the parents to the school and to their children’s education. Though it serves an incredibly valuable public good to have all members of society sufficiently educated to help ensure a civilized existence for each individual within a society, gargantuan quantities of resources are too easily wasted by the substandard direct oversight which so often naturally results from the total or near total subsidization of a student’s education by people other than those directly benefiting or involved in a student’s education (namely the student, his/her parents, and the teacher, and the school principal). A free or heavily subsidized education by such distant third parties tend to result in students, parents, teachers, school administrators and everyone else involved in the education system to be more careless about or to insufficiently address both economic and procedural inefficiencies within the educational system. By bringing greater control of budgets back to the school site, especially to the school principal and teachers, and by making parents, and to a lesser extent, students pay at least some of these costs, an awareness of the expense of an education would be more prominent on the minds of everyone.

#1 Calculate Average Annual Per Student Expenses

To begin constructing a tuition schedule, each school district must first determine its per capita student expenses at the end of each year. In other words, the school district would add up everything it spends to keep the district running, including administrative expenses, utilities, maintenance, teacher salaries, etc. It is this figure that would serve as one of the two basic figures used to determine actual individual family tuition payments for each child.

#2 Total Per Capita Family Income

The other basic figure needed to determine actual individual family tuition payments for each child would be the total family income generated in the previous year by all members of the family, regardless of age, divided by the number of individuals in that family. This family per capita income figure would be used directly with the school district’s per capita student expense figure to determine the actual amount billed by the school district to the family of the student.

The higher the family per capita income, the higher the tuition charges. At the low end of the income spectrum, families would pay only a fraction of the school district’s actual per student educational expenses, while at the high end of the income spectrum families would pay a multiple of this actual per student educational expenses. However, all parents, regardless of how little they may have earned or whether they have earned anything at all in the previous year, should still be required to pay a minimum tuition charge of $100 towards the district’s average educational costs for each student. If they cannot pay this amount before the due date, interest at market rates would be charged on the unpaid portion and continue to accrue without limit until the entire account is paid.

Tuition Rate Proposal (Assuming $10,000 per capita educational costs.)

Per Capita Income Tuition Rate Annual Tuition Paid
$0-4,999 $100 (minimum)
$5,000 2% $100
$10,000 5% $500
$15,000 10% $1,000
$20,000 25% $2,500
$25,000 50% $5,000
$40,000 100% $10,000
$60,000 150% $15,000
$80,000 300% $30,000
$100,000 600% $60,000

This formula should be a smooth algebraic formula rather than tax rate brackets. Like a progressive income tax, this progressive tuition schedule would constitute an additional element in a progressive tax system.

School Vouchers

Families who desire to send their children to private schools, would be allowed to pick the school of choice for their children and would be allowed to receive a voucher for 50% of their entire financial obligation (up to $5,000) under the cost plan stated above. In other words, if a family earned $40,000 per capita (using the tax rate stated above) and is thus required to pay 100% of the $10,000 in annual per pupil public school average cost (equal to $10,000), but decided instead to enroll their child in a private school, that family would be entitled to a voucher equal to $5,000 to be applied towards that private school tuition.

Families which earn more per capita would not be allowed a larger voucher because the voucher cap should be limited to 50% of the public school district’s average per pupil cost. This cap is set to compensate for and emphasis the role of the public education system’s principal function of universal education, often resulting in the enrollment of a disproportionate share of higher-cost and/or more troublesome students.

Families which earn less than $40,000 per capita would be subjected to a tuition rate lower than 100% (according the table above). Such families who desire to enroll their children in a private school would be entitled to a voucher equal to only 50% of their public school tuition rate. For example, a family with a per capita income of $20,000 would have a tuition rate of 25% of the average per pupil public school costs ($10,000) or $2,500. Thus, the value of their voucher would be $1,250 to be applied towards a private education.

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26. Basic School Supplies Provided by Parents

Parents should be responsible for supplying their primary and secondary school children with all the required basic school supplies such as pencils, erasers, crayons, facial tissue, rulers, paper, glue, scissors, etc. Schools would supply the list of required materials. This would help students and schools to be less wasteful and would encourage them to place a greater value on and take better care of their things and the things of others.

A school should require a student to repurchase, at full price, any materials supplied by the school at reduced cost to a student, and then lost or damaged by that student.

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27. Performance-Based Teacher Pay

A primary education teacher’s pay should be based, at least in part, on a formula that includes the number of students taught by the teacher as well as some form of measure of their students’ success in learning the material. For example, a school district could set the reference point salary figure (standard pay) for a 5th grade teacher with 30 students who score a combined average of 75% on a series of non-teacher-authored tests throughout the year at $60,000 per year (that is, $2,000 per student). If that teacher decided to teach only 29 students, that teacher would take a deduction in pay equivalent to 150% of the per student compensation rate. In this example, that deduction would be $3,000. If the teacher decided to teach only 28 students, the deduction would be $6,000. On the other hand, for every additional student the teacher decides to teach, compensation would increase by only 100% of the per student rate, $2,000 in this example. Compensation for each additional student would not increase by more than 100% of the per student compensation rate to discourage classes from becoming too large and teachers from spreading themselves too thin.

In a similar way, also factored into a teacher’s pay would be the grades the teacher’s class receives in comparison to the school district’s average score within the same grade level. These scores would be determined from non-teacher authored or selected tests, mainly standardized tests. The school district would first need to set the reference point for each teaching position. Again, we will use a sample reference point salary figure of $60,000 for a 5th grade teacher and assume that the district-wide average score 5th grade students receive on standardized tests is 75%. Class scores a certain number of percentage points below the district average would result in the class teacher’s pay being deducted by an equal percentage amount. In contrast, class scores above the district average would result in the teacher’s pay being increased by a percentage equal to 150% of the percentage difference between the district average and actual class scores. For example, if the 5th grade teacher’s class scored a 65% average (which is 10% below the predetermined reference point percentage of 75%), that teacher would take a 10% salary cut (-$6,000). But if the students scored an 85% average (which is 10% above the district average percentage of 75%), the teacher would be rewarded with a 15% (150% of the 10% difference) increase in their salary (+$9,000 in this example).

Of course, teachers tampering with testing or scoring or any other such misconduct would be penalized severely in the form of a big fine that will make them wish they would not have engaged in such misconduct. Cases of clear test or score tampering should be punished by a fine equal to at least 20% of the teacher’s pay for each student whose work was tampered with.

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28. Student Grade-Based Course Financial Refund

To both encourage students to study harder as well as to give all students an opportunity to reduce their cost of education, educational institutions should be encouraged to offer refunds to students for a portion of the cost of a course based on how high the student was graded on the course. For example, if a student earned 100% on a course, that student would receive a 15% refund. If a student scored 95%, then he/she would get maybe a 10% refund. For a grade of 90%, the student may earn a 5% refund. All lower grades would not entitle the student to a refund.

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29. Student Time-Based Course Financial Refund

To encourage students to study harder and faster as well as to give all students an opportunity to get a reduced cost education, educational institutions should be encouraged to offer refunds to students for a portion of the cost of a course based on how fast the student successfully finished the course. For example, if the average time required to complete a given course is 2 months, and a student completes it with a passing grade in 75% of this average time (i.e., 6 weeks), that student would receive a refund of perhaps 5% of the total cost of the course. If the student finishes the course in 50% of the average time (4 weeks), then perhaps a 10% refund could be claimed. This course finished in only 2 weeks (25% of the average time), could entitle the student to a 15% refund.

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30. Monetary Fines for School Children

Children should be issued ‘tickets’ for improper school behavior and parents would ultimately be responsible for paying the fines. For example, fighting with another student may earn the student a $100 ticket. Littering may be a $10 fine, placing graffiti may be a $25 fine, etc. Since they are children, they would not be subjected to the full punitive fines. High school fines should be higher than elementary fines.

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31. Late School Start Date Penalty

The parents of children enrolled into a school after the start of the school year (or after the start of the new semester in the middle of the school year) should be fined $10 for every day of the year that the child missed at the new school. The teacher of the child should receive half of this amount ($5 per day) in direct compensation for the inconvenience and burden of including and integrating the new student into the teacher’s records and into the class’s physical and social environment.

All these penalty fees would be reduced to $100 at the beginning of a new semester in the middle of the school year but would begin to accumulate again for each subsequent day.

Furthermore, an additional penalty should be levied on the parents of children being enrolling in any grade lower than 10th grade. This penalty would consist of a cumulative 10% penalty applied to each grade level going back to the lower grades. For example, the parents of 10th grade entrants would only pay the base penalty of $10 for each day that they are not enrolled after the start of the school year. However, 9th grader parents would be charged $10 plus 10% ($11 total) per day as a penalty, while 8th grade parents would be charged $10 per day plus 20% ($12 total) per day. Seventh grader parents would be charged an additional 30%, 4th grader parents would be charged 60%, 1st grader parents would be charged 90%, and kindergarten parents would be charged 100% more ($20) per day.

The main reason for such a rate structure is to discourage the parents of younger children from transferring children during nonstandard times of the academic year so as to minimize hardships on both students and staff.

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32. School Lunch Subsidies

Government subsidies should not be provided to enable free or reduced cost breakfast or lunch meals for school children. If governments are involved in providing meals, they should operate as a private business and ensure that they make a profit or at least break even. Parents should be required to pay market prices for food offered at the cafeteria or should provide their children with packed lunches. If parents cannot afford to pay for cafeteria food, schools should be required to maintain an account and keep track of balances for each student in debt. Parents must then pay off these balances monthly, otherwise, regular market loan interest rates will begin to accrue until the balance is paid in full.

Schools should make available only balanced nutritional foods from the cafeteria, vending machines, snack bars, etc. Schools may also keep tabs on individual student meal consumption patterns to ensure a long term balanced diet.

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33. More Efficient or ‘Thicker’ Use of Public School Facilities

To make more efficient use of tax dollars, public school facilities should be utilized more and for a wider range of activities than has conventionally been the case. Evenings, weekends, and holidays are times that schools are relatively empty. School administrators should be able to rent their facilities to other public or private entities at market rates with the idea that these enterprises will be financially profitable for the school. Ideas for what events or activities that could potentially be held on the school grounds are almost endless but would include holding church services, parties of any kind (including student birthdays), reunions, festivals, garage/yard sale substitute sites, weekend farmers markets or swap meets, car shows, vocational courses or college courses at nights and on weekends, remedial classes for students, day care (also throughout the day), community/recreation center, and many more possibilities.

Schools could also possibly set themselves up so that they share a library that is both a school library as well as a community library (public or private). This dual-use concept can also be applied to pools, gyms, etc. During school hours, such facilities could be closed to the public and then opened to the public after school or when the required school use has ended.

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34. Educational Financial Aid Grants Should Only Cover Tuition, Books, and Other Direct Costs

Government financial aid grants (for secondary education students) should only be enough to cover part or all of the direct costs associated with schooling, such as tuition, books, school instruction/material fees, etc. Estimated food, living, housing, or transportation expenses should not be given as grants but as loans.

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35. School Community Stores

To raise money for individual schools, every willing school could open a public store on campus (facing the sidewalk, preferably on the business or commercial edge of a school’s boundary line) that would sell things made or grown by the students of that school. Virtually anything that can be sold, including pictures, drawings, poems, writings, artwork, fruits, vegetables, plants, things made from scrap, or anything else made or significantly modified by the students should be allowed to be sold. For the more valuable things, perhaps students could be given a portion of the sale price of items that they make. If it’s not too difficult, it would be nice to be able to give every student a portion of the sale price of things they have made. Any person from the community could also make donations to the school of items that would otherwise have gone to a charity. The school could then sell these items and keep the profits for its own use. All profits would go to fund extra school activities, personnel, construction, or other needs or wants.

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36. Educational Material Publishers Competing Directly for Students

Students, especially those in progressively higher grades beginning in middle school but particularly those in high school and college, should be allowed to choose courses that are taught using teaching styles that each finds most effective. In other words, though students may not have a choice in what course they are required to take, they would have a choice determining in which teaching styles they would like those courses to be taught.

Naturally, such a choice is not available with a live lecturer doing the teaching. However, this proposal is part of a larger thrust presented in these proposals that would encourage a greater, though not total, utilization of independent learning methods, mainly through the use of printed or electronic media.

A whole industry can develop around teaching subjects to people using different teaching approaches to cater to students who may benefit more from utilizing one teaching style over another. Different companies (or even individuals) could produce one or a range of course packages and market them similar to how everything else in society is marketed. Each producer would advertise their own course and the student would make up his/her mind as to which one to buy. Courses, as long as they are properly accredited, could be bought from student stores on campus or at any other place, even online. Thus, students would have a range of teaching styles to choose from and could pick the one they think will work best for them.

This same idea could, perhaps, be applied to the lower grades in a limited fashion, though parents would be the ones deciding (in consultation with their children and teachers) upon which styles from which their children will learn. An example of a teaching style choice parents of elementary-aged children may want to make would be whether to teach reading and writing using either the whole language or phonetic approach.

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37. Schoolbooks; Buying & Selling – Buyback Pricing

School bookstores should buy back textbooks at a price based, in large part, on the condition of each textbook returned. Trained cashiers or other trained employees should rate the book on a three or four point system based on a variety of physical factors such as amount of underlining, highlighting, whether pages are torn or bent, condition of the cover, etc. Obviously, books in the best condition would receive the highest prices.

When these used books are sold back to students, their prices would be determined mainly by the condition of the book, using the same grading scale used to buy books from students.

Charts or informational posters describing the system and criteria used to determine the prices of used books and detailing the condition of a typical book for each category should be posted at places where used books are bought back by the school. If a book is in excellent condition and practically new receiving a four-star rating, probably 75% of the purchase price should be paid to the student. If a book received a three-star rating, perhaps 50% of the purchase price could be refunded. A book receiving a two-star rating may only be entitled to a 25% refund, of the purchase price, while a one-star rating would not be entitled to any refund.

Used Book Advertising Wall and/or Sales Booth

Every school should have a dedicated place where students can post information about textbooks they would like to sell. This dedicated place should be organized and managed by the school and be in the form of a large bulletin board, wall, or Internet page. All classes for which textbooks can be sold (the classes using the same books for the next term) should be listed along the top with lots of space underneath. Then students with either textbooks to sell or buy would walk along the wall until they come across the class for which they want to buy or sell textbooks. Sellers would place all relevant information (their name, name of textbook, price, contact telephone number, etc.) under the correct class listing and buyers would view all necessary information with which to make a decision.

An alternative method of creating an efficient market for both buyers and sellers would be for the educational institution itself to agree to be the agency that connects buyers and sellers. Sellers would leave their books at the school bookstore and when a buyer buys the book, the bookstore would keep a portion of the proceeds to fund and profit from such an operation.

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38. Getting Parents Involved in Their Children’s Education

To encourage parents to get more directly involved in their elementary children’s education and to improve the speed and efficiency of their children’s early educational career, parents should be financially rewarded for their children’s above average or notably high test scores and/or for extraordinary improvements in test scores over the year. These financial rewards could take the form of tuition fee refunds. Families should be rewarded if their child scores in the top third (for example) of their grade level (averaged throughout all subjects) at that school by being given a $100 refund. Or if, at the end of the year, a student had been among the top five percent of students who has made a dramatic improvement since the beginning of that grade, the family should get a reward of perhaps $100.

Students could also be paid a token amount of money for good or great performance on every significant test they take throughout the year. Earning a 100% on a spelling test could earn them $1, for example. Earning a 90% on a history test could earn them $2, etc. These payments could be adjusted according to the age of the students, difficulty of the tests, and other factors.

Parents should be given a specific summary of what their child is expected to learn by the time he finishes that grade. Every quarter, the parents should receive updates on the progress of their child toward these goals and an assessment on whether the student is on schedule to meet them. Periodically, parents could also receive tips (scientific research articles, teacher comments, district/principal notices, etc.) on how to improve the learning environment and behavioral receptiveness of their child to make learning easier for the child, the teacher, and the parents as well.

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39. Student Gardens

Every primary school should have a garden of some sort where students can have a part in deciding what gets planted and where students can take part in caring for the garden. Perhaps children could grow foods, flowers or other plants with the intent of selling them to parents, other students, or the public at a student store to raise money for the school.

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40. Exhaustive Exercise Databases

Students should have access to a virtually limitless number of exercises in math, science, language, and other subjects. These exercises should be divided into narrow categories, each of which emphasizes one particular aspect, potential point of confusion, or certain stage of problem-solving that is prone to causing confusion or mistakes in the subject being taught.

Perhaps the internet the most practical and lowest-cost place for such exercises to be made available to those who need it. All school textbooks and school bookstores should be required to list such websites in a place easily visible to students.

The idea is to provide students with access to a flood of sample problems, organized by category, so that they could practice working through any formulas, concepts, rules or specific portions of them which they do not quite understand. These exercises should be designed so that every possible snag that a student may face could be resolved by having that student work through a series of exercises specifically designed to pull that student through that snag with an understanding of how to resolve that snag in a variety of different situations and contexts. Studies should be made on where students have problems or become stuck, and a series of exercises should be created to specifically deal with each of those problems. For example, if a student has trouble subtracting from rounded hundred numbers (such as 300) because of the borrowing functions that must be performed, there should be a whole set of exercises listing hundreds of similar math problem that, while using different numbers, share the property that borrowing must be performed from rounded hundred numbers.

Other exercises could focus on helping English students identify specific parts of speech like subjects, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, etc., within sentences. Students could even diagram whole chapters of books to practice this skill. The learning of scientific formulas and chemical equations could also be enhanced in a similar manner.

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41. Lecture Notes

At the beginning of each secondary level course, or at least in advance of the lectures, instructors should give out detailed outlines of their lecture notes, even if for a fee. In this way, students would better know what to expect from the lectures, what the thrust of the lecture is, and what to focus on. These lecture notes should include everything discussed in class including definitions, diagrams, etc. These lecture notes should be complete enough so that the student would not be required to write down any core elements of a lecture. Students would thus be better able to concentrate more on the material being discussed rather than spend a great deal of time and effort writing things down and, invariably, increasing the chances of needlessly missing out on some relevant points or thoughts.

Students spend too much time and effort trying to think about how to format the notes and trying to guess and imitate the professor’s outline or format of main points, supporting points, examples, definitions, etc. The student’s job is to understand and synthesize the information, not to transcribe lectures into written form.

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42. University Cocoons

Secondary schools and universities should be encouraged to have small individual (4′ x 6′) and/or larger group study booths scattered throughout the campus in libraries or even dedicated buildings for this purpose. Any nook and cranny whether it is inside buildings or anywhere outdoors could be used for this purpose. These cocoons would be places where students could go alone or with a study group and study without interruptions or distractions. Each room would be completely enclosed and each door could be equipped with a small window so that passers by will know that it is being occupied. Possible layout for single occupancy rooms could be a 2′ x 4′ table at one end of the room with a shelf about 2′ above the table and the door at the opposite end to put backpacks and other stuff. Perhaps time meters similar to parking meters could be placed outside so that these study booths could either help fund the school or help offset the cost of constructing them.

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43. Student Uniforms

Primary and secondary schools should require students to use uniforms. However, uniform policies should consist of several different models of pants, shorts, skirts, shirts, blouses, shoes, etc. For example, there should be about three or four allowable models of pants, and the same for shirts, with each model allowed in up to three or four different colors. Colleges, universities and other educational institutions need not require such limited wardrobe options but should enforce decent dress codes.

Primary and secondary school teachers should also be required to wear either uniforms or semi-dressy clothes, regardless of whether or not the students are required to wear uniforms.

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44. School Textbook Stocking Requirements

All schools should be required to have all textbooks (or other materials) required by a class in stock by the first day of that class’s term. Schools that require students to purchase textbooks which are not in stock on time should be required to financially compensate those students by giving them a significant discount on those textbooks. Such discounts should be related to how long after the start of the term the textbooks become available for purchase by the students. Perhaps an automatic 50% discount could be implemented on the first day of the term for a textbook or other required material that is not available for purchase. Such discounts could increase by 1-10% of the products purchase price for each additional day of delay. In addition, schools should entitle students to free photocopies of any reading materials required from books or other materials not yet in stock. A minimum buffer of two weeks of scheduled future reading materials should be provided to each student, regardless of how soon the required texts will arrive in the school’s bookstore after the term begins.

Schools could avoid absorbing such penalties if they agree to revert to using the previous term’s textbooks for the class and make such a decision at least two weeks prior to the start of the term. If the decision to use the previous term’s textbooks is made with less than two weeks to go until the start of the term, students should be entitled to purchase these textbooks at only half their planned sale price.

Students should never be required to go to different bookstores or other locations off campus to get books or other required materials unless they are compensated with at least a 50% discount. Schools should make available all required materials on campus.

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45. Time Compressed Movies and Animated Flip Books as Teaching Aides

Certain portions of history should be taught using a more visual medium. Specifically, time compressed movies and even animated flip booklets could be made to illustrate historical events like the movements of fronts during a war, the evolution of political boundaries, demographic shifts, the meandering of rivers, the evolution of geologic land formations both on the micro and macro scales, and so much more. Two or more related variables could also be included within the same lesson to more directly show students the relationship between the two.

Such a presentation format would enable many students to more effectively formulate and grip larger frameworks around which so much more knowledge can be hung, perhaps with longer lasting accuracy. Students could even make some of these flipbooks themselves, page by page (at least coloring basic, repeating templates) throughout a course.

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