(College Educations for $2 Per Hour)
(Unfinished) Book Outline:
Table of Contents
This book advocates educational reform, but hardly in the way most people would suppose. Education reformers advocating more money for education are anything but reformers. They want more of the same, in order to thwart reform and hope that the nation's educational systems get buried even further.
Educational reform, I should make perfectly clear, at the outset, is as difficult to accomplish as reform of any other major part of our economy, such as healthcare, welfare, taxation, Congress, litigation, immigration.
The amount of money involved in the reform is a good measure of the difficulties involved in obtaining any meaningful reform. Health care, involving about 1/6th of the economy, could not be reformed by the persons advocating reform, and the word refor m doesn't necessarily mean for the better. Thus, reform when achieved could be a backwards step and not a true reform at all.
My interest in education dropped off for a few years when I dropped out of high school (at the end of my sophomore year in high school) at the age of 16. After 3 years in the Army, I was able to gain entry to a college (Long Island University, in Brookly n, New York) in spite of my lack of a high school diploma. I graduated from LIU in 3 years as a political science major, and went to Harvard Law School, graduating 3 years later (in 1962) with an LLB (or JD) degree. Thereafter, I practiced law in severa l Wall Street law firms, taught two semesters in the evening school at LIU, and finally went out to practice law on my own, in 1968, specializing in fighting monopolies of private enterprise (called antitrust law) and monopolies created by government (dra wing upon civil rights laws).
During 1972, I founded the Paralegal Institute (in New York City), the 2nd school in the United States to train paralegals or legal assistants, and owed and ran the school, as a proprietary or for profit school, for the next 17-1/2 years, finally closing the school due to excess government and other regulation, during 1989.
I have had 17-1/2 years of line experience fighting the burro-cratic asses of the New York State Education Department, but with little or no success. This book is conceived as a blueprint for others to obtain the information I have learned over the years and the insight into what is required to obtain a better, lower-cost, more productive educational system throughout the United States.
I will deal with the lowest levels of our educational system, day care centers and head start programs, through kindergarten, junior (middle) and senior high school, colleges, universities, professional schools, career or proprietary schools, welfa re and similar government-sponsored training programs, and even the recent Schools 2000 program, to identify the regulatory problems throughout which have combined over many years to virtually destroy our educational systems in the United States and start the U.S. on the road to being a third-world country for many of its citizens.
I can't think of any problems of greater importance to the U.S., especially since the direction can be reversed through understanding and certain action, to be discussed at length. One parting word. I owned and ran a career school for more than 17 years, and I know that it is realistic to give people solid career training for $30/week (or $2 per classroom hour), compared to the $30-$35 per classroom hour which millions of persons a re now paying, directly or indirectly. But let me tell you what we, as concerned citizens and voters, must do to accomplish this.... C.E.P.
Chapter 1 - Eliminate Government Funding and Government-Created Monopolies
Spend more money for education is the cry of many persons claiming to advocate educational reform. The money would be used to increase teachers' salaries, retirement benefits, medical/dental plans and other benefits, and build more facilities to h ouse more teachers. In this way, by making teachers happier and more secure, they will be motivated to teach better than they have in the past (when they had already received higher pay and benefits using the same arguments with no results).
At a time especially when unemployment is high, and opportunities are decreasing throughout the U.S., and with many middle-class persons being squeezed out, the idea of increasing teachers' salaries and benefits is obviously absurd. They should share the downsizing of the economy with the persons whom they serve and who pay their salaries. Simply put, the way of accomplishing this is to withdraw all (or most governmental funding) for education and privatize all educational programs. This means that free enterprise, including General Motors, IBM, Disney, Microsoft and smaller companies and individuals would set up, finance and operate schools and training programs of all types, for profit, and in competition with each other, with students and their parents making their choices basedon price, qualify and services being provided by the compet ing schools.
The result would be a massive reduction of governmental expenditures for the federal, state and local governments which no longer would be supplying funds to run colleges and universities or providing students loans to students and their parents. Hundred s of billions of dollars per year would be available for reduction of taxes, vouchers for the poor or all, and other legitimate governmental uses including educational information systems (to be discussed later).
Instant privatization of education is less of a possibility than the unleashing of competitive forces on the educational system as existing today. The long-term effect of competition would enable existing institutions to adjust to competition, if they ca n or will, and survive or die. In either event, the solution is to withdraw government financing for educational institutions and substitute good old fashioned, customer selection and purchases (called tuition) to provide the funds required to provide the educational services offered a nd to be offered by the current and new educational institutions.
The effect [ouw] of competition would be to force government-financed institutions to reduce their expenses to enable them to compete in price with the schools not financed by government. Schools which are financed by government spend whatever they get w hether the expenses are justified or not because there is no substantial competition for the government financing, it is received merely by being an approved educational institution which follows the rules (and part of these government moneys do go to com pliance with the rules imposed on the schools by the government agencies providing the funds).
The dual solution of eliminating government financing and government-created monopolies in education will result in the type of educational systems which will enable the U.S. (or any other country, I presume) to maximize its potential and prosperity.
It is possible, if not probable, that as a result of the elimination of government funding of education and the elimination of government-created monopolies in education the amount of money spent for education by the private sector will exceed the amount spent on education as of today, but whether this is so or not the impact of private expenditure should be sufficient to create educational opportunities to assure the continued economic, political and social success of this country.
The reasons and procedures for accomplishing this are set forth in the chapters which follow.
Chapter 2 - Globalization of Economy Is the Final Straw
The obvious inadequacies of our country's educational institutions have become painfully apparent during the globalization of our economy over the past decade or so. The coincidence of timing should not be disregarded. It is possible that upon inspectio n and analysis a person could reasonably conclude that one event caused the other, at least in part.
If the source of labor in an area such as New York City is considered to be inadequate by an employer, the employer can set up or move his business and do its hiring elsewhere, such as in New Jersey, Connecticut or even Arkansas. If, contrary to fact, Ne w York City had been able to create a meaningful school system over past years and were currently turning out well-education and/or highly-skilled graduates, the employers would be less likely to set up operations outside of New York City, and the effect can be traced - how a better educational system can slow down a globalizing tendency.
Globalization seems to be the search by business for lower costs and higher sales and profits throughout the world, with little regard for the impact of business decisions upon the persons and communities most directly affected. At one time a company's loyalty to a community seemed to count for something, but the time for this has gone by, and what seems to count the most is the bottom line, i.e., whether to stay is more profitable than to pack up and move elsewhere.
The number and quality of prospective employees is a given area a community is often the decisive factor in whether a business will stay or go, and a community which permits its educational institutions to deteriorate (such as in New York State, which has had a policy up to today of driving for-profit, post-secondary schools out of business) can expect to (and should) lose businesses and jobs to other communities.
New York State's central planing system for education is pretty much like the educational system of the former Soviet Union, where the central planners in Albany or in Livingston Street (Brooklyn) decide what courses and programs are to be offered, what i nstruction is to be given in a course, what topics cannot be included in a course, and hundreds of other matters such as the may number of chairs in a classroom, and the distance between a chair and the nearest hallway, door or window.
The Soviet Commissars of Education have something to be proud of, which is that the educational bureaucracy in the United States has adopted their ways, and is learning the hard way that you can't direct education from the top down. But then, what bureaucrat in the educational system ever worried about the results of the bureaucracy. As long as he/she had a job, this is s all that ever mattered. Whether the educational system was working or not was a problem to be decided in someon e else's cubicle.
A good educational institution (as any other institutions) requires direction, which can be done most effectively with a single person. Managing an educational institution is similar to managing a battle. The general in charge (or school director) makes the decisions quickly, based on the most recent information and research, and available personnel, funds and supplies, and he wins or loses based on these decisions. The head of an educational institution should have the authority of a general and be ab le to make decisions without having to make application to government agencies and legislative bodies for authorization, which can often take 1-2 years, if given at all.
In our globalized economy, with dramatic changes taking place on an almost daily basis, an educational institution seeking to provide relevant, up to date training has got to be free to make decisions today, to enable the students to benefit from the most recent advances, and provide prospective employers with graduates having the skills sought by employers.
If students are trained in government-financed schools with curricula and equipment which are 2-3 years out of f date, or even 6 months out of date, the school will lose its ability to place its graduates, and employees will look elsewhere for new employe es.
If, on the other hand, an educational institution can become known for the relevance of its programs and equipment, and the quality of its instruction, employers will seek out the graduates and students will choose to attend, rather than attend government -financed schools which lag behind in quality and amount of equipment, programs and instructors to meet the needs of the institution.
This same effect exists for an entire community. If the quality of worker is high because of a top-notch educational system in the community, persons will move into the community, property values will rise, businesses will come into the comunity, new job s will be created, and business will prosper, and the tax base will be expanded (and provide more taxes) for the benefit of the entire community. If, however, a community permits its school systems to deteriorate, or doesn't fix its bad school systems, the whole community can look forward to lower property values, poorer residents, fewer jobs and opportunities, lower skills, higher crime rate and s ocial problems, and a deteriorating or dying community.
The globalization of our economy in part is a breakdown of the community walls which use to keep the businesses (and jobs, and opportunity) within the community in which a business did its business.
Now that businesses are expanding all over the world, the natural tendency for a business to grow from its main (or only) office in a specific community is no longer applicable for many businesses.
These businesses often have no preset idea to expand in any specific place. They want to expand, usually, where it would be most profitable for them to do so. The factors involved in any one decision to relocate (or stay) change from one decision to another and from company to company, and some decisions are going to be made to relocate no matter how good the local educational systems are.
Also, there is the woeful practice of one state or community paying a business with lower taxes to induce the business to stay or move, which is a form of stealing from the other businesses in the community who are subject to the higher tax rates, and fro m the other taxpayers in the community, who have to make up the amount lost by the granting of such tax inducements to lure or retain a business. These tax inducements should be declared illegal, as a denial of equal protection of law, or unlawful specia l legislation, or some other legal basis, to require communities to compete fairly (by a lower tax rate for all, or better school systems, or better skilled workers).
But for any community to have its best chance of creating and retaining jobs, the community should maximize its educational systems to be able to provide the quality of education and mix of skills which are desired at that time by actual and prospective e mployers.
In this way, a state, county, city or town may be able to offset the adverse effects of economic globalization, to make such community more prosperous than otherwise. I hedge on this point of offsetting economic globalization because how does a community offset the availability of $1 per hour foreign labor? The answer for the most part is that $1 per hour foreign labor comes at a price, and companies making up their m inds whether to move or not are often aware that $1 per hour translates into high immediate capital costs for the move, payoffs and new plant construction, and continuing labor costs of $5 or $6 per hour because of lack of training, illness, language diff erences, transportation, duties and other costs associated with plant relocation and foreign operations. The trick for a community in the U.S. is to have a superior educational system to make the contemplated move less attractive in comparison to remaining behind in the community where the business is now located.
Also, a community must recognize that with economic globalization jobs are going to be lost to countries (and communities) having a lower wage scale. The way for a community to fight this is to train people for higher paying jobs (or for business opportu nities), including jobs (and business opportunities which would offset the advantages found in foreign countries, and provide information systems to make it easier for self-employed individuals and small businesses in the U.S. to offer and sell their resp ective goods and services.
Perhaps a proprietary school would develop and offer such a course and induce thousands of interested persons throughout the world to travel to the city where such school is located to take the course and assist the community by spending thousands of doll ars to live (and pay tuition) while taking the course. It is doubtful that any government-financed school with its bureaucracy would conceive or develop any such course.
Globalization has not created the need for efficiency in any country's, state's or area's educational system, it has made the need an urgent one, to prevent a rapidly development in obsolescence. Whereas a bureaucratic top-driven system can survive in a community with walls, or a monopolistic community having the ability to shelter itself by fiat from outside competitors, the globalization of our economy has caused the walls to crumble and the need for reform acute. With my lifetime of experience in education, as a student, school creator, owner, operator and instructor, and as a lawyer to school owners, and a knowledge of the applicable rules and regulations, I will identify the most important types of systems which exist in the U.S., and indicate what in my opinion needs to be fixed in each to enable the system to succeed in our increasingly competitive, globalized economy.
Chapter 3 - Government Student Loans Are the Primary Post-Secondary Problem
I have had experience with student loans, and without student loans, both as a student and as a school owner. I worked my way through college without student loans, and went to law school using student loans, which I paid off over the years.
I started a proprietary school in 1972 and ran the school without any student loans for more than 10 years, then made the mistake of applying for and obtain the right for students to obtain student loans while attending my school, which together with vari ous other regulatory horrors, ultimately caused the school to fold 18 years after the school opened its doors.
My experience with government student loans has convinced me that they should be terminated as quickly as possible. The value of student loans, obviously, is that it provides money with which students can obtain a college education or other career training. Students usually have no ability to borrow money from a commercial bank, savings bank, savings and loan or other lender because students usually have no assets, no job, no history of income, no history of debt repayment, and are generally considered an exceedingly poor credit risk.
This is the rationale for government student loans programs. Students can't afford to pay for their education unless they can borrow now to pay for the acquisition of higher skills, and then use their higher income for a period of years to repay the loan , and live better thereafter with the higher income and opportunities which the education can be expected to provide.
In theory this sounds pretty good. But as anyone in the education business can tell you, there are many problems with government student loans. Let me tell you what the most important problems are. The problems are interrelated to a great extent and th ere is no obvious order for their presentation and discussion.
A. Government Control of Education
This is a major problem which exists anytime the government provides the financing for an activity. When the government provides financing for hospitals or medicare, conditions will be added by legislators to limit abortions, for example. When the U.S. government provides financing for a new railroad station, the U.S. government tells you where the station should be and how it is to be built, including the pay scale of the workers used to build the building. In education, when the U.S. government provides loans to students, the loans are granted only if the career school, college or university is accredited (which will be discussed later) and continues with its accreditation, provides courses which are no les s than a certain number of hours long, even if the number of hours is too much for that subject of study. Also, the U.S. government requires that the school set up a governmental agency within the school staffed by many bureaucrats to administer the loan program, and any failure by the staff to properly record the loans, or to maintain accurate attendance records, or especially to lose even one of hundreds of pieces of paper which are required of every student loan file, the U.S. government demands that the school repay 100% of the loan proceeds to the bank, guaranty agency and the U.S. Office of Education, including penalties and interest, even though the student obtained the education, got a job as a result, and is pleased with the results. This is a daily threat held over participating schools, and the smaller proprietary schools are treated more harshly than non-profit schools, in an obvious effort by the U.S. Office of Education and state regulatory authorities to drive them out of business, for re asons which will be discussed later.
Another control factor is the requirement that all schools, whether they cater to the top college grads in the country (such as Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School) or a proprietary school on 125th Street in the middle of Harlem, New York City, are required to stay above the same minimum percentage of loan defaults, or lose their right for students to obtain U.S. government student loans.
Obviously, a school in the heart of a high unemployment, high welfare, high crime area, where most persons live hand to mouth, is going to have a default rate on student loans many times more than Harvard Medical School or Yale Law School, but the student loan program says Sorry, and requires the school in Harlem to close its doors by the act of withdrawing its student loan privileges. The only way that students can come to the school in the first place is through student loans, and when the predi ctably high rate of defaults is experienced, by the third year or so of accredited (i.e., student loan) operations, the school catering to minorities is then put out of business by the regulatory authorities.
This control destroys valuable institutions which may be succeeding in taking more than 50% of its student body off of welfare, but since the cut off for defaults may be 18% or so, the school is not living up to the standards which never seem to hurt Harv ard Medical School or Yale Law School, and one rapidly concludes that the U.S. government student loan program is quite racial and discriminatory in its application, which of course is known to many of the members of Congress who continually vote to reena ct government student loan legislation with increasingly difficult conditions for minority-oriented schools to meet.
There are many other aspects to the government's control, but the foregoing are sufficient for our purposes.
B. Schools Set Tuition to Eat Up the Amount of the Loan
The worst evil I can think of is that student loan programs run by government provide huge amounts of money to unknowledgable consumers who then sign the whole check over to the school as payment for their tuition. The tuition is usually set by the schoo l in relation to the amount a student can borrow from the government student loan program, so that the more money a student is allowed to borrow (really, the more money we throw at education) the higher the tuition is set for what amounts to the same educ ation, regardless of the tuition charged.
Let us set aside for the present the problem of government-owned colleges and universities such as state and city colleges and universities and community colleges, whose funding comes directly from the government and in which the student is often charged very little. In Los Angeles recently a government-owned community college was advertising that it has the lowest tuition, only $29 per semester or something like that. Of course, the cost of advertising exceeded the $29 per student which the college rec eived from the students.
You would think that a non-governmental college or university would charge tuition which had some bearing to the cost of instruction, but this is not the case. As I have just said, tuition is determined by the amount of government student loan money avai lable to a student, which may be $10,000 per year or more, not the cost of instruction.
One university I have in mind (NYU) charges tuition of $14,750 per semester, or $30.45 per 50-minute hour of instruction.
In a class of 30 students, the NYU bursar collects $900 for one-hour's instruction to those 30 students, and theoretically hands the instructor $20 for teaching the class, leaving more than $900 left over for extras, which means the educational bur eaucracy.
If student loans were eliminated, and if private schools were permitted to compete, the schools would set their tuition in relation to the costs of instruction, and charge perhaps 2 to 3 times this instructional cost (or $2-3 per class hour for a given st udent), and provide a high quality education at the same time.
Of course, with student loans propping up the U.S. higher educational and career training systems (called post-secondary education by the U.S. Office of Education), these institutions need not be concerned about price. The state regulatory authori ties and the U.S. Office of Education, together with a conspiratorial Congress, have made sure that free enterprise cannot compete with these high-cost schools. If, however, government student loan programs were eliminated, and if proprietary schools could compete on equal terms (meaning, subject to the same rules and regulations, equally applied), there would be price competition which would reduce tuition to amounts which students themselves and/or their families could easily earn, so that a high quality education c ould be offered on an affordable basis to virtually everyone who academically qualified for it.
3. Government Student Loan Programs Require Program Obsolescence and Prevent Competition
Strange as it may seem, the U.S. government requires a school to be at least 3 years in operation before it can obtain accreditation and therefore the right to participate in the government's student loan program.
In the case of single-purpose schools, such as a proprietary school formed for the purpose of showing communities how to compete in the newly globalizing economy, the school would somehow have to obtain students and stay open for a 3-year period, and only after that time could it apply for and obtain accreditation, and then apply for and obtain the right to have its students obtain student loans. Of course, without student loans at the outset, the school will probably not survive, since the competition ( hundreds of accredited colleges, universities and career schools) are able to sell students by saying you don't have to have any money; just take out a student loan).
The nation has put handcuffs on its education systems by not permitting new courses and programs to be developed by entrepreneurs, who are the only persons who can be expected to develop such programs. I know. I was the second person (and school) in the United States (and presumably the world) to start a paralegal or legal assistant training program, back in 1972; and I tried to start a program for the training of management assistants or personal assistants, but was effectively blocked by the delays in volved in getting the myriad of licensing approvals, including student loan participation, all of which I finally got, but by them it was too late, and the country still has no program for the training of personal assistants as a result.
4. Bureaucratic Costs Are Monumental
The costs of complying with the requirements of the nation's student loan program is substantial. I know. I had to pay for the bureaucracy within my own school needed to comply with the myriad of rules and regulations which are entailed whenever a schoo l elects to participate in the student loan program. I had to have extra space (meaning extra rent, and rent occupancy taxes) for the extra personnel involved, and the extra files, and the extra desks and computers, and supplies. I had to pay salaries a nd benefits for the numerous personnel needed to administer the student loan program, including 1 or 2 computer programmers, 1-2 data processing input personnel, 5 student loan counsellors (who could not also double as salespersons, to prevent conf licts of interest; accounting personnel to prepare statistics and financial statements; consultants to deal with student loan problems from the very beginning, and as to each application which was made for a student loan, to ensure compliance, managers to watch over the workers; persons who were in charge of placement and acquiring of placement statistics, and so on.
The net effect was to change the school from a paralegal program to a government agency designed to prevent meaningful education rather than to promote meaningful education. It soon became apparent that the only thing which could not be dealt with was th e quality of the educational program. The time spent on all other matters precluded my school from working on quality and program development. We were too busy running the quasi governmental agency with the funds obtained from the students through their borrowing from the governmental student loan program.
What a waste of time and money!
5. Educational Bureaucracy Is In Charge of Policy
The government student loan program is political, obviously, resulting from legislative action. Review of the program from time to time is from the standpoint of the educational bureaucracy in the United States, who are the persons upon whom Congress dep ends for input, guidance and approval of changes and reauthorization of the program from time to time.
The government student loan program, therefore, is run for and by the educational establishment and bureaucracy in the United States mainly to suit their own purposes, with little regard for the public. The money goes to the bureaucracy, and only inciden tally to the borrowing students and parents, who generally endorse the student loan checks over to the educational institutions for them to spend as they see fit, mostly for things remote from the classroom.
6. The U.S. Office of Education - 5 Employees and a Lot of Boxes
I had the misfortune of having to go inside the largest branch of the U.S. Office of Education outside of Washington, D.C., and was amazed to find that this monstruous organization of government consisted of about 5 human being (one chief, one deputy chie f, one or two investigators, and a secretary or two), plus hundreds of boxes of school records strewn in every nook and cranny of the office. From my periodic contacts with such persons, I quickly learned that they do nothing except the stacking of boxes , and the issuance of letters saying that schools are in default for some reason picked up by others, or that the school has default-rate statistics which means that the school and its students can no longer participate in the government student loan prog ram.
I can't think of any program of the U.S. government which is more worthless deceptive and harmful to the economy. Certainly there would be no harm to anyone except the 5 individuals if the U.S. Office of Education were closed forever and the 5 employees in each branch were required to look for meaningful employment.
6. Government Student Loan Program Stifles Educational Advances
Because the government student loan program permits schools to enroll students by offering them the loans with which to pay all or most of the tuition, it prevents other schools with tuition of 1/4th the amount from making any sales at all. Thus, schools of equal or better quality charging 1/4th to 1/10th as much as participating schools cannot compete due to the government student loan program. I know. I started my paralegal school during 1972 at $700 tuition, without any student loans, and fin ally succumbed to the economic pressures and became a participating school during the early 1980's, and gradually increased my tuition to $4,000 for the same course. Each time student loans were increased, I (and all other participating schools) increase d their tuition to absorb the full increase of the student loans.
7. Loan Program Subsidizes Lavishness and Excessive Salaries
The main purpose of the government student loan program, from the standpoint of the persons who keep it in business, is to provide the funds to pay lavish salaries and limited working hours and business amenities for the faculty and administrators of the participating schools.
Thus, a law school professor might teach only 3 hours per week, receive $150,000 per year, and have office facilities, including desk, telephone, xeroxing, fax, cellular phone, several computers, and a printer or two to enable the professor to make extra money as a consultant of one type or another. This is not limited to law or medical professors. University professors use their positions (underwritten by government student loan money) to write text books and treatises, for which the professor may get up to 40% or more of the sale price as his author's royalty.
The loan proceeds also subsidize football and basketball teams, an expense house for the school's chancellor, and vast well-kept lawns to add to the appearance of the school. Many of these extras would be dropped if there were no government student loan program, and institutions would compete on the basis of tuition cost, because the funds would be coming directly from the bank account of the student and/or his parents, rather than the bank account of the taxpayer and the U.S. government.
If the costs of education were high and justifiably so, there is less reason to junk the government student loan program. But this is not the case. The true costs of education are no more than than the costs of any other product or service, once the mar ket is made competitive. How much do you think it costs to hire a highly skilled lawyer to teach one hour of class to a paralegal in training? You might reason that a lawyer charges his/her client somewhere between $125 and $300 per hour or more for his/her services, and that th is would be an appropriate range from which to select an answer.
But this reasoning (which I had undergone during 1972, when I founded Paralegal Instiute) produces the wrong answer. The correct answer is - and hold onto your hat - $20 per hour or less, before deducting payroll taxes. Doctors can probably be obtained to teach for a similar hourly rate.
Why should 30 students in a class pay more than $900 for the teaching services of a non-lawyer/non-doctor? Why can't a school operate and make a healthy profit by paying its teachers $20 per hour, and then marking up this cost (similar to a restaurant, w here the food cost is between 25% and 33-1/3% of the total price of a meal)?
My own experience shows that you can run a good school with good (if not extraordinarly good) instructors for a cost of tuition which is a small, reasonable multiple markup over the teaching cost.
If the markup is 200%, this would mean that the school should obtain tuition income of $60 for one hour of instruction. With 30 students in a class, the cost of tuition per student would be only $2 per classroom hour. This amount is affordable by the vast majority of working persons in the United States, with student loans not being needed (at least for tuition). Whether student loans are justified to provide the funds needed to live away from home is another question which I don't think needs to be tackled. If competition is permitted in education, the costs of education will come tumbling down, including the cost of residing in college communities and the cost of tuition.
7. Billions of Dollars Are Being Wasted
The existing government student loan program wastes billions of dollars which are needed elsewhere in the economy, by subsidizing excessive salaries and costs in the participating educational institutions, and by lending excessive amounts to persons who d o not earn enough from their educational purchases to be able to repay the loans over a reasonable period of time, which results in default and non-collectability of the loans, with resulting loss to the U.S. government and taxpayers.
Elimination of the government student loan program would require persons to look for educational programs they can afford, and affordable educational institutions offering $2 per hour instruction would spring up, once the competition of the particpating s chools (in which tuition is paid through loan proceeds rather than assets of the student or his/her parents) is eliminated.
Chapter 4 - Education's Regulatory Wasteland
This chapter together with Chapters 6 through last have not been written as of this time.
Chapter 5 - Understand It Before Trying to Change It
Although some major changes are required in the nation's educational systems, these changes differ according to the system involved. Before trying to determine which changes are needed, it is important to look at each of the main educational systems and see how they function.
Typically, there are 6 major types of educational systems in the United States:
As for each, we should look at the funding, because funding determines control and the imposition of rules and regulations by one or more government bodies outside of the institution. Also, we have to look at licensing, because the power of licensing in the educational business has been the power to inhibit and destroy. Finally, we should see what should be done to create a better educational system.
1. I'll start at the bottom, with day care. For years this has been excessively regulated in the major cities, which has prevented day care centers from being formed at prices which parents can afford, and has caused institutions to add day care faciliti es to their activities as a benefit to parents.
The licensing requirements are the main reason that day care is so expensive. It doesn't take much money for 2 persons in a large room to handle 20 children as a day care center. The parents deliver and pick up the infants at the parent's expense; there is the room rental, salaries to the two day-care center employees; food costs; equipment costs - which should be capable of being met at a weekly rate of $100 per child, or $2,000 for the week.
The reason that day care centers have to charge 3 or 4 times that amount per child is the elaborate rules and regulations which govern day care centers in most cities, adding substantially to the costs of running a day care center, which costs have to be passed on to the parents.
It is nice to know that a day care center has a medical facility comparable to a doctor's office contained within, and if parents want to pay the $300 to $500 per week in charges, they should have the opportunity.
The real problem with daycare legislation, rules and regulations is that it is illegal to offer something less than the mandated requirements, so that a breadwinning parent earning $200 per week obviously cannot afford to put his child or children into da y care, which results in serious problems for the family and the children.
A cost/benefit analysis would seem to suggest that day care legislation (assuming it is needed at all) should try to make day care more available to all, by reducing (perhaps eliminating) the requirements, and letting the free market, including day care p roviders and the parents decide what they want. There should be more of an analysis on what happens to parents, children and families who spend too much of their budget on day care (such as requiring two or more breadwinners in a family, with reduced fam ily life) or being required to keep children cared for in some other less desirable way, such as alone in a nearby house with a non-caring custodian looking to take in a few extra dollars, but which deprives the infant of the value of association with oth er infants in a modest (low-cost) day care center which under present laws would be illegal to maintain.
To assist infants in their development as early as possible, there should be a relaxation of day care rules and regulations to permit more day care centers to be formed, for profit, at a price which parents can afford. It makes no sense to charge more fo r one child in a day care center than his/her parent makes per week, especially when there are 20 children being cared for at the same time. There would seem to be an overcharge of many multiples involves. Also, there is an inherent bias against for profit institutions of all types, and any effort at expanding day care center opportunities would require that for profit, non-profit and governmental institutions be treated equally from a regulatory standpoint .
2. Kindergarten through middle (junior high) school. The licensing of K-8 (or K-9) schools run for profit is the only bright spot in the nation's educational system. It is possible for proprietary schools to function in this area without harassment excessive regulatory zeal.
In fact, the simple way to improve the nation's K-8 (or K-9) educational system would be to provide vouchers to all needy parents (or perhaps to all parents, I'm not going to debate this issue), to enable them to send their children to any school of their choice in which they can enroll.
The effect on the government-financed school systems in many places, particularly the large cities, would be devastating. The large public school systems would have to compete for students and convince parents that they were equal to or better than the p rivate schools (which of course at the outset would not be true).
Public schools would have to make some radical changes to prevent loss of most of their students. But these changes are precisely what we want, and without the stimulation of competition there would be no reason to espect any change. Years of public scho ol deterioration have demonstrated this. Supposing that all public schools went out of business. Would this be a disaster? I don't think so. The buildings could be rented by proprietary schools, one or more classrooms per proprietary school, with several proprietary grade schools making use o f one building, and paying rent for the space on a competitive basis, I might add. Perhaps the legitimate function of local government would be to ensure adequacy of school space for the numerous grade schools which would want to start up.
The most commonly voiced objection to this is: But wouldn't the private schools discriminate against minorities, and make the public schools 100% minority as a result? The answer to this is that the existing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion and country of origin would make it unwise and too costly (fines, litigation costs) to pursue an illegal policy of discrimination.
There is the issue, however, of whether a private school should be able to expel an unruly student. The answer is, Of course.
Then, what do you do with unruly students who are kicked out of private schools? The answer is that private schools would develop which would seek these students and offer them specialized help including motivation to return to the other school.
The advantages of private schools don't seem debatable in the K through 8 (or K-9) context. What we need to do is permit the taxpayer's dollar to be used to pay tuition in whatever school a student wishes to enroll in, provided he/she is accepted by the school. There would be a healthy competition among students to be able to gain acceptance to the private (or even public) schools which are deemed to be the most suitable or best, including such factors as location, teachers, hours, courses, reput ation and statistics.
The head start programs, which are paid by government or non-profit foundations, are directed to underprivileged children at an early age (such as in kindergarten) to give them a chance at educational development which they tend to lack by reason o f their economic and social background. These programs too should become competitive, by encouraging for profit programs to start and compete for students, with the most successful programs in Head Start being the ones which would draw the most st udents and presumably be the most profitable for their owners.
The Schools 2000 program, in which a model school is to be placed in every Congressional district by the year 2000 is one more example of legislative interference with the educational systems in the U.S. If schools were allowed to become competitive, the re would be no need for Schools 2000, which is no more than an attempt to deter educational reform by suggesting that by the year 2000 Congress will have remedied the educational problem, which everyone knows is pure nonsense. Year 2000 should be a conte st to provide incentives for all types of schools to develop new and improved educational opportunities, but Congress would lose its control in such event making the program of no interest to it. Congress has the right to designate which schools will get the Schools 2000 money, which makes Schools 2000 much closer to a porkbarrel program than to any type of meaningful reform program.
3. High schools - public and private.
The same analysis for K-8 (K-9) applies to the nation's high school systems. The Catholic Church has thousands of school systems throughout the United States, and has been able, consistently, to produce better educated students (regardless of race or rel igion) than the government schools with which they compete. Non-sectarian private (both non-profit and for profit) high schools have also demonstrated that they are consistently superior than the public schools with which they compete. There seems to be no reason why vouchers shouldn't be used here as well, to require public schools to meet the standards of these private school competitors.
4. Community colleges.
Community colleges, numbering about 2000 in the United States, are financed by state and local governments, and virtually all of them are participants in the government student loan program.
Community colleges generally are a way for students with lower high school grades to start off in college when they can't gain admission to a 4-year college. The drop out rate is higher than most colleges; the number of persons who transfer to 4-year col leges is not very high; and the community colleges are basically vocational or career programs rather than academic preparation.
Because the programs are run with civil service teachers and instructors, there is difficulty in firing bad instructors, and instructors whether good or bad just continue to instruct, often with little incentive other than to collect their paycheck, benef its and vacation time.
If private community colleges were permitted under law (and in some cases they are permitted, but seldom encouraged), there would be the kind of competition needed to make the government-financed community colleges more effective. Thus, a voucher system should be put into play, and all community colleges should be transferred into private hands (non-profit or for profit), which would then require that the community colleges compete with each other for voucher students and survival.
If government student loans are eliminated, there would be a decrease in enrollment because many students go to community colleges (paying very low tuition) for the purpose of obtaining student loan moneys, which go almost 100% into their pocket as low-in terst (sometimes non-repayble) loans. If government student loans were eliminated, this type of student would be eliminated, which may be one of the reasons for the overall stature of community colleges. Too many students have learned the student loan trick to obtain financing to do someother other than study at (community) college.
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