As Gov. Chris Gregoire considers reorganizing the state's public school bureaucracy let the rest of us think about how the state can educate our young people without the public bureaucracy.
What if instead of directing and financing the building of schools and the hiring of teachers, administrators and staff, the state simply set the educational standards for all of its students and provided funds to parents or guardians of school-age kids and to adult higher education students to cover the state’s responsibility for public education?
The parents and students would then use the funds to purchase education services from a provider they prefer. Providers would be required to meet the state’s standards for educating without discrimination. The state would audit performance and make the results public so the customers would know how well each provider is doing at the core education mission.
Auditing would be periodic through the grade levels, sampling student portfolios developed by educators to reflect student achievement including performance on standardized tests.
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Funds per student would be adjusted to account for differing economic and geographic circumstance among communities.
Through skill and hard work, providers could offer extras to attract more customers. If communities wanted additional student activities they could provide them though community support and partnerships with education providers or groups of providers.
Imagine the power and creativity of a school that demonstrates its success by attracting students to come freely through its doors to receive what they and their parents want and what society needs.