Improving Public Schools Requires Changing the System

Despite reform efforts, school performance is improving slowly, if at all, and continues to be very inequitable between racial and income groups. Though the causes are typically presumed to be located within the classroom, the system itself perpetuates inequity and poor performance. This paper proposes two systemic changes: allow funding to follow children to the school their parents choose and remove the exclusive franchise of school districts, thereby allowing multiple providers of public education within one geographic region. Together these changes would provide the framework for an education system that offers students and professionals a wide range of opportunity and freedom to pursue success.

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About the authors: Richard Meinhard, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist who specializes in the development of cognitive, instructional, and organizational systems. He is a Cascade Policy Institute Academic Advisor.

Nick Weller was Cascade Policy Institute’s Education Policy Analyst. He recently began working toward his Ph.D. in political science at the University of California, San Diego.

About Cascade Policy Institute: Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. To that end, the Institute publishes policy studies, provides public speakers, organizes community forums and sponsors educational programs.

Cascade Policy Institute is a tax-exempt educational organization as defined under IRS code 501(c)(3). Cascade neither solicits nor accepts government funding and is supported by individual, foundation and business contributions. Nothing appearing in this document is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of Cascade or its donors, or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before any legislative body. The views expressed herein are the author’s own. Copyright 2006 by Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved.

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