01 November 2007

Education Solutions - Part 1

On My way to the final three posts in this series, I found this Dondequiera post by MC Don Dees. I'll get back to that one and his recent interactive marketing posts after I finish solving Puerto Rico's problems. (Of 131 countries, WE ranked 130th in "Burden of government of regulations"?! Is Hell #131?)

Talk about leaving the worst for last...Education is Our hell. Here's how to step it up into Purgatory and beyond:

Flatten the Department: I mean that literally, but I'll use "flatten" in the organizational sense. Between the teacher in the classroom and the Secretary of Education, there must be no more than 4 levels: the School's Principal, a District Superintendent and a Regional Superintendent. Period. No sub-this or assistant-that. The current 50-50 imbalance between administrators and teachers needs to tilt to 20-80, with 80% of the Education department in the hands of working teachers. Lose the dead weight, give teachers a better chance to address core educational issues and let the department be run by administrators focused on results, not failed lunkheads aiming for retirement benefits.

Make Regions compete for funding within the Department: Don't give Me that look. The current system for disbursing and managing funds is like trying to fill a sinkhole with soap bubbles. Witness the loss of Federal funds in the current Department, losses that may total close to a billion dollars by the end of 2009. Rather than continue this way, have a base amount of funding per student as a minimal guarantee and have each of the 10 Regions submit plans and proposals for additional funding.

Complicated? Could be. But here are the highlights that will make it work:

--Teachers will get involved in actual teaching. Those that don't face actually working at something else.
--The focus will be on schooling, not on spending.
--Best practices are explored and when successful, shared or imitated.
--Parents in the public school system will have another major reason for caring about their children's school: Is it competing or is it a retirement home with chalk?
--Schools will quickly learn to partner to increase resources.

Provide a tax break for home schooling: While schools deteriorate like zombies in a blender--and I include private schools in that blender--the only viable option for concerned parents is home schooling. Of course, the Fools want to tax that, too. But to radically improve local education, a tax break for home schooling is the most economical solution.

Here's why: The tax break will immediately encourage a wider and deeper involvement in education, beginning along the lines of home schooling (how, what tools, what standards, what benefits, etc.) That entire discussion is part and parcel of improving public and private education and places the emphasis on the educational process itself, not the money angle. Shift the frame on the debate and you change the chances of success from "dismal" to "achievable."

The inherent power of education has been wasted in Puerto Rico. Any power left unused is equal to not having that power. We deserve better.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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