One overarching point is that schools should stop looking for a lot of outside help, especially from government. Most government entities are deep in debt. That is especially true with the current economic crisis.
But how about these options?
- Create a K-11 option - this would save the public money and allow students and families to get out of college sooner. It would also reduce the size of buildings and other administrative operation. Another spin on this would be to develop dual-enrollment options with local colleges instead of adding AP courses. The student would get college credit while in high school. This is primarily a savings if the dual-enrollment program is associated with a public post-secondary institution. The Classical Academy will open such a program next year and hope to fill it with a large number of students.
- Stop changing curriculum just to change curriculum. I'd add that schools ought to stop revising and changing textbooks just because it is the new thing. The fact is that there is little evidence that curriculum changes assist greatly in educating kids. The consistent factors are good teachers and supportive parents. So, let's concentrate on those areas.
- Stop buying technology just because. Technological improvements have not made major impact on test scores or even breadth of education. The use of technology is not bad, but it must be strategic. It must be based on some sort of cost/benefit approach, not some IT guideline to replace or improve technology periodically just because there is some new technological standard. Businesses don't do that, why should schools?
- Reexamine pension systems. Public employees have one of the best, if not the best, retirement systems around. They are costing a fortune. I'd add that if teachers want additional pay, one way to find it is to reduce pension costs. Make teacher retirement plans similar to their for-profit peers and use the money saved to fund higher salaries. It's not impossible to think that the savings for schools and districts could fund 5 to 10% increases in salaries.
There are other suggestions and all are good, but these four could really change the way we budget and reduce some tension from our triangle.