A plan for improving education
Bringing it home with tax cuts for test scores
by Lewis Pollis and Terrence Banks, Green Party of Ohio
For years our country has struggled with education. Once the envy of the world, the United Statesí public education system now leaves its graduates unprepared to enter institutions of higher education or the work force. Many college students waste their first years taking basic English and math courses they should have completed in high school.
Politicians have promised to solve this problem for decades and have come up with several ideas like: extending the school day, lengthening the school year, and most recently the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. NCLB offers financial re≠wards to the schools whose students perform best on standardized tests, which are usually the schools that have the least urgent need for money. While some proposals may have marginally bettered the Amer≠ican schooling experience, it doesnít take a straight-A student to see that by and large, these solutions have failed to significantly improve the system.
With few possible actions left to im≠prove schooling from an administrative standpoint, we must instead turn our attention to the most important proponents of a childís education, his or her parents. A small handful of devoted students will always provide their own motivation to succeed given the opportunity. Unfor≠tu≠nately, for most kids, all the tests, technology, and teachers in the world will be ineffective if the learning experiences of the school day are not reinforced by educational stimulation at home. Such musings are clichÈ and have been repeated ad nauseum at every level of government from local PTA meetings to President Obamaís major speeches.
Yet, while parents nationwide either do not realize the need for their help, intentionally abdicate their responsibilities, or simply lack the time and energy to offer assistance, the government has never put forth a policy to encourage their involvement in their childrenís education. Now is the time to break that streak. We must invest in our children and our future by investing in involved parents.
Instead of using schoolsí overall test re≠sults to allocate resources to the already successful schools which do not need the help, use the in≠dividual studentsí results to reward the parentsógive them a tax break if their child passes each exam.
This is not to say we should implement a pay scale to reward naturally gifted children, nor should we turn the testing process into a game show by handing out cash to the top-performing students. The tax credit would be given on a strict pass/ fail basis.
The tests should be designed so every student has the intelligence to pass and so it will be easy to reward any parent who takes the time to sit down and help with his or her childís homework.
We must invest in†our children and our future by investing in involved parents.
A tax break would create a renewed parental interest in education. Even a slight cut, as small as, three percent would probably be enough to get Mom to spend a minute looking at juniorís homework or for Dad to help him study for a quiz. The tax credit would also allow working single mothers to skip that overtime shift at work in favor of working out math problems with her daughter.
Imagine the improvement in our educational system, just from that small change. A measurable impact would likely be noticed within a year. Imagine if parents save the money from the tax credits to help pay for college tuition, then a better-educated society will lead to a stronger economy. So the investment is not only important for our society, but also logical economically.
Besides simply being a logical solution, an edu≠cational tax credit would exemplify several of the Green Partyís Key Values. In allowing parents of un≠≠derprivileged households take a bit more time off of work to help with their childrenís education, we help create equal opportunities and economic justice. We would en≠courage parents to meet their personal responsibilities, and help ensure future stability.
“GovernmentÖcannot turn off the TV or put away the video games,” President Obama has said. Although he is right that “these are things only a parent can do,” we can certainly offer parents some extra incentive.
Lewis Pollis is a new member of the Green Pages Edit Board. He is entering his senior year in high school and was editor of presidential candidate Cynthia McKinneyís “Power to the People Campaign” Newsletter.
Terrence Banks will be attending The Ohio State University in the fall and plans a double major in Biochemistry and Political Science.
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