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Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Total Makeover for Public Education

Isn’t it about time that we Americans abandoned the archaic system of primary and secondary public education in our country that we have been trying to fix with band-aides for many, many decades? Do you realize that there are thousands and thousands of public school districts throughout the United States? Rather than fixing the American public education system, a total restructure is in order. Let’s have a total makeover.

There are a wide variety of school systems throughout the United States because each state has its own system of public education. The reason for that is because public education is the responsibility of each and every one of the 50 State Governments rather than the responsibility of the National Government. Yet, many people expect the President and/or the Congress to do something about our schools and the whole system of public education. If people want the Feds to address public education, then we really should consider an amendment to the United States Constitution requiring the National Government to establish a national system of public education. I would favor that approach, but I bet you that idea would be met with staunch opposition.

However, I do have an alternative suggestion for at least overhauling K – 12 education here in Ohio. Let me begin by making some comparisons. Amongst the many different State systems of public education, I draw attention to those of the three states of Ohio, Florida, and Hawai’i.

In Ohio, there are 723 school districts consisting of 190 City districts, 60 Educational Service Center districts, 373 Local districts, 1 Municipal district, 49 Exempted Village districts, and 49 Joint Vocational districts. While the State of Ohio also permits Joint High School districts, there are none at present. In my opinion, that’s just way too many school districts. Take a look at the website of the Ohio Department of Education.

The State of Florida has hundreds upon hundreds of fewer school districts than does its Ohio counterpart. In fact to be more exact, Florida has 655 less school districts than Ohio. Did you do the math? Yes, that’s correct. Florida has just 68 school districts. The reason for only 68 districts is because Florida Public Schools are structured on a countywide school district system. That seems much more manageable and efficient than Ohio’s system of 723 distinct school districts. Give a look-see at the website of the Florida Department of Education.

And then, there is the State of Hawai’i. The paradise state goes it 67 better than Florida. Yes, you read that correctly. The State of Florida has 67 more school districts than the State of Hawai’i. Huh? Yes, indeed, that means there is only one school district in the entire State of Hawai’i. One. That’s right, ONE — a single, statewide district on seven islands. That seems even more efficient than the 68 public school districts in Florida. Visit the website of the Hawai’i Department of Education.

Which all leads me to my suggestion regarding the overhaul and restructuring of the State of Ohio public education system for grades K through 12. Ohio could go to a state funded, statewide school system that would be administered at the county level with the county administrative superintendent paid a salary based on the county size as we do with other county officials. We would save money just on the economy of scale issue. Think how much money could be saved on textbook purchases and educational supplies alone if all were bought on a statewide basis rather than by 723 separate entities. Think about how much money could be saved by having one school system with one administrative entity and one overall administrative cost versus 723 school treasurers, and 723 school finance offices, and 723 purchasing offices, and 723 human resources offices, and 723 transportation departments, and 723 food services departments, and 723 curriculum committees, and 723 —– well, I think that’s enough to give a picture.

With a statewide, county administered system that would include citizen advisory committees and utilize sited-based management, we could practice economy of scale, families would have wider choice of schools, movement within the state would not be disruptive to the student, etc.

But first, people need to get over their feudal school turf protection mindset.


Ben said...

wow, that is some interesting stuff..i had no idea about Florida, or really how any other state did things. very, very interesting.

Gary said...

Sounds great. Now, go out and sell that to the teacher unions. You know, the ones who claim to care about the children. The only thing they care about is more and more dues paying members. They would fight this tooth and nail. All the time while claiming to care to the children. They make me sick.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Wow! You radical!!

Why, what you're promoting is tantamount to running education like some sort of efficient business...

But, what about all of those poor unemployed roadblocks/burrcrats hell-bent on slowing the wheels of progress, as their life-long career?


Roland Hansen said...

Hmmm, HT.
I heard there is a growing marketplace for recyclables.

There are several possibilities for displaced education bureaucrats. As a few examples, they can enter the wide wonderful world of corporate and retail management, the lucrative field of consulting, public administration and management of numerous other governmental or nonprofit organizations, social work, the juvenile justice field, postsecondary education as administrative staff or faculty, - or, even as some have in the past, the State Legislature or other elected positions.