Federal Education Policy is a failure

I went to private schools from 9th grade through 16th grade. I guess that sounds weird, but I attended Shattuck-St. Mary's Preparatory Boarding School in Minnesota then went on to St. Olaf College, also in Minnesota. It was expensive, and I am very grateful for my parents for supporting me through the process of getting an education. My experience has influenced our education choices for our child.

There are some good schools in California, but they are hard to find. The grammer school that my child would attend is awful. Our only choice was to either move or private school. We chose the latter. I remember my father, a supporter of Ronald Reagan, explaining the idea of the School Voucher program. The construct for the voucher idea was pretty simple. The federal allocation for student education would be placed into the discretionary hands of the parents. Had Reagan been successful, my parents would have been able to off set boarding school fees with the voucher. Unfortunately, our local school got the money even though I did not attend. That is what is happening today in our public schools.

Strangely, higher education is different. The federal government doles out funding and student loans to both public and private schools. Why?

Why are public and private schools treated differently for grades k-12 than they are for college? It is incongruent. Moreover, I think that the Federal Government policy is being taken advantage of by private Universities.

Most private colleges and universities charge around $40,000 per year. They do this because the federal government provides so much support for higher education. If they cut off the support, I guarantee that the price would go down. Our federal government now holds over 1 Trillion in student loan debt.

I would like to see the voucher program resurface. It will force teachers to deliver excellence rather than live under the shield of the teachers union. Private schools do not have a teachers union, they get paid less, and they deliver better results. Fund the voucher program by eliminating federal loan support for private colleges and universities.

Like healthcare, the US education system is broken. The costs are higher than other developed countries, but the outcomes are lower. It sickens me. If you agree - post a link to this article on your facebook page or twitter page. Perhaps in some small way we can heighten awareness of this important issue that is being totally ignored by our incompetent, bureaucratic federal government.

If you are not angry enough, visit the Department of Education website - read an article about Student Loan Forgiveness. Apparently we are in such great financial shape that we can forgive the loans.


  1. They don't replace the voucher concept, but charter schools are helping fill the gap left by our public education system. Some of them are very good, but many states are not charter school friendly (driven to a large degree by unions). Check out National Heritage Academies which operates 60-65 schools.

  2. Victor, good Blog issue. I submitted a reply Publish, but where is it. Why do I have to go Through my google account?

  3. I will try again. Regarding public schools I don't think that is a Federal issue. There are some states like North Dakota and Minnesota that place a premium on education. They fund it properly. Those states also have parents that place a premium on education and are involved in ensuring that their children are getting the right education and work with their children to achieve it. Minnesota may be a high tax state, but a lot of the tax goes for education. There are other state like Texas that do not support education with either proper funding or direction. Involved parents make for good schools and students. I do have a problem with teachers unions and especially with tenure.

    Regarding student aid. A big part of the problem is that it too easy for students to get big loans for an education where a job market does not exist or where the pay scale is so low that one can not pay the loan back. Not every job needs a college degree. We need more emphasis on paid internships much like Germany has. Skills can be learned on the job rather than in the classroom. The German government subsidizes German companies that provide learning by doing. We need more emphasis on science and engineering and less on abstract studies. Some of our most inventive creators never finished college (Jobs, Gates, etc).

    I am not for vouchers. The money is better spent on improving the public school system.

  4. Barry. I can't connect your examples to your position. California is a higher tax state than your examples and is ranked at the bottom 5% in public school education

    Minnesota education succeeds because of the cultural family values in that state are better aligned than many other states. They also do not fight the battle of non-citizens absorbing citizen benefits.

  5. Not sure where you get the data that CA ranks in the bottom 5% for public education. Public schools include Berkeley and Cal Poly which consistently rank in the top 10% nationwide. Regarding secondary education even our Arroyo Grande HS ranked in the top 1.6% nationwide. AG surely deals with so-called non-citizens and seems to be able to deal with the issue well. Other school districts not so well. It's not a matter of how much tax is collected but how it is spent. Poor administrators and lackluster teachers shouldn't be tolerated. Some of the worst schools in CA are non-Hispanic inner-city. Clearly there are issues with non-citizens and welfare. Maybe it is time to change their status to citizens so they are no longer second class.

    I do see a need for private schools. Large classes make it difficult for public school teachers to deal with exceptional students like Alexandra. She deserves the special attention to stimulate her progress. Plus she has parents that have a hands on approach to finding the best education and cultural support for her. Your dad financially supported your education and now you are doing the same for your child. Good.

  6. I was referring to the grammar schools

  7. My problem with vouchers is that it can only be funded by reducing the funding for public schools. That puts the public schools in an even worse situation to provide quality education. My parents paid for most of my undergraduate education. We did the same for our children. They graduated without any student loans.

    I do not support any forgiveness of student loans. The loans were taken out with the knowledge that they had to be paid back. The current recession is making it difficult to find a job that will provide the necessary income. Many of those without jobs maybe should have selected an education and career that is more recession proof.

  8. The primary point I was trying to make is that the Federal Government has an incongruent policy.

    On one hand, they do not support private schools at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. I would suggest that elementary school is the place where the federal government should be allocating the most funding - it is a time when children learn the fundamentals of all learning.

    On the other hand, the Federal Government does provide funding, like grants and student loans to private colleges and Universities (including schools with billion dollar endowments).

    Why the two policies?

    If they want to fund public schools, cut out the loan programs to private colleges and universities.


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