A better way to learning is available

April 7, 2014

In old time one-room schoolhouses, children were educated by ‘’Normal School” trained teachers, who provided a broader more cohesive form of learning by the fifth grade than our current university-educated teachers impart by the tenth grade.

Obviously, the world has changed; technology rules the day. However, that’s no excuse for the hostile, uncontrolled and undisciplined student body most public school teachers now face. The school environment in our small town schools is permeated with a culture of permissiveness, entitlement, parental absence and fear. This has to be addressed before any more children are assigned to dumbed down grades and are passed to the next grade.

As a retired economist, I was recently invited by Headmaster James Dundas, the founder and director of Geneva Academy in Lincoln, to offer an introductory lecture in currency economics at his school. During and after the lecture, the behavior and the grasp of subject by the students reflected the quality and depth of their education. They are lively and engaged young people, yet polite and respectful students.

Geneva's overall objective is to provide high quality, classical instruction, where excellence is expected. This learning takes place in comfortable, but frugal, orderly classrooms where students are taught classical studies and Biblical principles. The academy was able to add grades by investing in prefabricated classrooms, strategically placed on campus for optimum student flow, observation and safety.

The latter enables Geneva Academy to keep tuition rates reasonable, thus providing affordable schooling for children of middle class means. What Pastor Jim does require is that families who apply for enrollment at the academy understand its guiding principles and that learning, discipline and responsibility are part of the agreement and a requirement to continue at Geneva.

This example shows that there are alternatives to pouring taxpayer money into failing public schools, which constitute another failed government monopoly, turning out lots of bad products. An alternative is to create a proven competitive reward system and re-define our education with excellence, where all parents are awarded a specific education stipend for each child, which would be used for tuition of their children to a public or private school of the parents choosing. This amount would likely be substantially less than taxpayers presently pay, with the end result being far superior to present day outcome.

Test questions and scores would be published each semester. Fraud by school officials regarding misused funds or dishonest grading would be subject to penalty. Opulent buildings and playing fields must be secondary to common sense curriculum that offers the tools needed in life. With this approach, economic survival of schools and their sponsoring society will be based on competence, determination and excellence. Citizens who don’t have children in the schools will benefit by attracting the new business and jobs, resulting from educating a requirements prepared work force. Taxpayers, presently short changed, will get their money’s worth by schools competing on the basis of results.

Miguel A. Pirez-Fabar

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