Rescuing Public Education in California

Depending on who you ask, California’s K-12 system of public education would be doing just fine if taxpayers threw another $30 billion (or more) per year into its insatiable maw, or, it is a failed model mostly because the teachers’ union agenda has ruined everything, from a crippling administrative overhead to mandating a curricula more obsessed with leftist indoctrination than with basic education.

In either case, though, there is agreement that big changes are necessary in order to restore to California’s K-12 students an education that offers them the skills and personal growth that will prepare them for life in the 21st century.

Big challenges are best addressed by big ideas. But California’s state legislature is a place where big ideas go to die, especially when it comes to education. Fortunately there is another path, which is through a state ballot initiative.

There is precedent, in the form of Prop. 38, a school voucher initiative that was put before California voters in 2000. It would have required the state to pay $4,000 per year per pupil attending private or religious schools, while greatly reducing the regulations governing the schools. The overall financial impact was unclear, with the possibility that in the long-run, public spending on K-12 education might actually decrease, since the $4,000 payment might be just enough to induce significant numbers of parents to shift their children into private and religious schools, allowing the much more expensive public school system to shrink.

While Prop. 38 was easily defeated […] Read More