For more than 40 years, I’ve owned property in Idaho and paid property taxes. I estimate my taxes have contributed more than $150,000 to education. I haven’t received one well-written thank-you note, and I doubt the value of the return on this investment. I suggest a taxpayer revolt because we’re funding gigantic, windowless, government buildings full of camera-ready kids who don’t know its from it’s.
More money doesn’t guarantee better education. According to a report from U.S. News, the federal government spends more than $68 billion a year for education. Idaho allocates about $2 billion a year with $4,100 per student while New York spends more than $11,500 per student. I attended public schools for 16 years; 12 in the village of Wendell, Idaho, and four at the University of Idaho. There were 56 students in my high school graduation class, and we became teachers, writers, a veterinarian, and entrepreneurs. None of us knew how to take a selfie or wanted to shoot each other.
When students walk out of class because they fear being shot in school, maybe it’s time to eliminate the schools. Removing guns won’t solve all the problems or make hostile, lonely people stop killing their peers. Remove the school and remove the opportunity. Allow taxpayers to participate in the education process as well as provide the funding.
Communities should provide the education so young people can learn how to read, write, and become self-sufficient.
We should establish community education centers that involve adults and students where everyone is required to participate in the village learning classes. Students learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic and also learn from local professionals about how to use their natural talents to become productive adults. Courses would teach them how to sew, weld, bake, farm, program computers, operate child care facilities, care for the elderly, write books, teach music lessons, establish a business, work with those with special needs, become law enforcement officers, fix a motor, wire an electric light, unplug a toilet, learn first aid, travel, and/or drive a truck. Other life skills courses would teach students how to balance a checkbook, establish a budget, maintain healthy relationships, care about their physical and mental health, and parent their future children. Each student would participate in an individualized course, and adult mentors would provide expertise and guidance. Students would learn in small groups, and participation would be required. Online courses would be available for specialized studies and modeled after the curriculum of successful online educational institutions.
The year-around community facilities would be limited to 300 students and most could walk to school. Students would not get lost or be ignored because each one would have a life goal to become productive and be a part of the community. Bullies would be expelled and sent to alternative facilities with the chance to earn an opportunity to return. Extra activities, including sports, would be optional programs after class. Team quarterbacks and cheerleaders would be equal in importance with the science nerds and journalists. Being popular on social media would not be a primary goal for students. After high school graduation, students would be encouraged to volunteer for community service or join the military before enrolling in a trade school or community college. As adults, they would be motivated to run for political office but not make it a career. This system that focuses on learning and acquiring life skills would work in inner cities as well as in rural towns.
Use empty churches.
The community schools would require smaller buildings, and I suggest using all the churches that sit empty all week. The sprawling, prison-like schools that currently hold thousands of students could be converted into apartments and dormitories for homeless people. These buildings would offer classes for counseling and job training opportunities. Residents would be required to participate in the operations of the facility.
It may sound radical to suggest eliminating schools. But, in my opinion, the federal government is wasting more than $68 billion each year to fund a failing, bloated, antiquated system that produces illiterate, unhappy children. I would willingly allocate my property taxes to fund local educational centers, and I would volunteer my time and talents. If students can walk out and demand change, so can taxpayers and concerned adults.