27 March 2009

Educational Play or Pay

There's an appropriately doomed movement afoot in Connecticut to get public schools to repay the state any money it has been sent for each student who drops out before 1 April.

While the desire for reimbursement of its investment is understandable, the target of the repayment request should not be the schools; it should be the student and/or the student's family.

My wife, who is far smarter than I, has always thought that the portion of one's property taxes (or rent) that goes to education should be billed and and have to be paid separately. In this way, everybody, especially the students and their families, would see how much "free" education actually costs. If everyone saw the actual cost to each household, it's a good bet that most families would be far less casual in their approach to school. As it is now, the costs are hidden and easier to ignore. Making the total each household is paying each month (just like heat, gasoline, cable, food, and the rest of one's budget...) more evident, even without an increase of any kind, I'd bet, would yield an invaluable return in increased seriousness on behalf of the student and in the involvement/encouragement/pressure from the student's family:

"Junior, do you know how much today's classes are costing us? You bet you're going to school this morning, tomorrow morning, the morning after that...! If we're paying, you're staying!"

Money talks, but the way the education bill is paid now makes it too easy for students and their families to forget how much they're investing in Junior's education.

And, as a result, it's easy to see dropping out as much less of a waste than it is.

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