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The Freedom in Education Act

by Stephen Krashen

After Arne Duncan gets rid of all teacher education, here are the next steps, inspired by Gov-Elect Scott of Florida, who wants to simply give people vouchers and let them send their children to any school they like. This will be followed by:

1. Dismantling the public school system. All schools will be private.

2. Gradually reducing the voucher amount, as the economy gives worse and times get harder for working people, until it is zero. ("Let's get government out of the education business," but see below.)

3. No longer requiring school attendance at all. BUT

4. Requiring that each child take standardized, government-approved tests in all subjects every year, as well as interim tests during the year. All tests will be regularly scheduled, and administered and machine-scored by computer. (Arne Duncan's plans are close to this already.)

(The only function of school is test-prep. And families can choose how they want to do it with no "interference" from the government -- online, private school, tutor, or doing nothing.)

5. Requiring that people PAY the corporations to take the tests or for their children to take the tests. (A "test-scoring" fee.) All fees must be paid before the test-taker takes the test.

6. Not taking the tests is not an option for those under 18. Failing to take the tests results in prison for the parents of those under 16, and prison for the students themselves ages 17 and 18, unless all past due testing-scoring fees, plus interest, are paid immediately. Prisoners will be put to work. Money earned goes to pay past bills for test-scoring fees for tests not taken.

7. No college attendance is required for a degree. All you need to do is pass the standardized competency test for any degree, including MDs. (Like the Bar, but no law school required, like the CPA exam, but no business school required.)

There will be no "education budget" at all.

Instead, with 50 million test-takers, test creators and test administrators will take in billions each year from "test-scoring" fees for doing nearly nothing, once the tests are in place. Even if the annual average fee is a mere $500, the total is about 25 billion, about the same as the current NCLB annual budget.
And whenever the feds feel they need to put more poor people in jail, they will raise the test-scoring fee a little.

A new industry loaning poor families money to pay their test-scoring fees will emerge. Special interest groups are free to pay test-scoring fees for qualifying families. Donations to many of these groups will be tax-deductible.

I think most people would agree to steps one to four with no hesitation, now that everyone is convinced that our schools are "broken" and that private enterprise does everything better. Step 5 would be easy if the fee is low at first. Step 6 can be motivated by horror stories placed in the media about lazy people who don't want their children to learn anything. Step 7 would pass tomorrow.

— Stephen Krashen




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