Why do we spend so much money on education? I think a lot of people would answer, “Because educating our kids is important.” Really? Why?
There are a lot of problems with teachers’ unions, whose goals are to make sure we get the least amount of education for the most amount of money, but the problems don’t start with them. Just look at the whole system we set up. We have 7.2 million teachers in this country and about 76 million students. Children are taught for 13 years in grade school, and many people want everyone to get at least 4 years of college on top of that. And what exactly do we get out of all this? If someone told me I was going to spend the next 17 years just studying, I’d expect at the end of it all to be Batman — a master of all sciences, languages, and martial arts. We’re lucky if our kids come out of this able to read and with at least one marketable skill.
So what is our goal with all this? It’s like we envision a future where we all just sit around and be all educated and smart while robots or illegal Mexicans do all the real work. But do we really want all of us to be a bunch of educated people who never do anything useful — like the Obama administration but for the whole country? Anyway, it’s not going to happen. The future still needs people to cook, clean, and manufacture goods — and it doesn’t take a decade of education in math and science to be able to do those things. So why are we spending hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure every fry cook at one point in his life knew what a gerund is?
Is there a benefit to educating everybody regardless of actual need? We keep hearing that we’re falling behind the rest of the world in our average math and science scores, but let’s look at some of the countries ahead of us: Finland, Lichtenstein, the Czech Republic. I’m sorry, but did I miss all the huge technological innovations that came out of these countries? China is also ahead of us in test scores, but they haven’t even figured out how not to put lead paint on children’s toys. What exactly are high average test scores worth? If a bank teller can properly identify the parts of a cell, this helps society how? Or do we just think that kids sitting in classrooms throughout childhood makes them better people? Well, Jesus didn’t spend his childhood in a school, but know who did? Hitler.
Now, obviously some people who are not budding genocidal dictators need education. Without our best and brightest being fully educated, how are we going to keep getting new features for our iPads each year? But is the most efficient path to that really to teach absolutely everyone and hope a small percentage actually retain some of what they’re taught? Why can’t we just identify the few kids worth educating and focus on them? We’ll find a few of the very best teachers — people who are a combination of Einstein and Master Splinter — and make sure our best and brightest get all the quality education they need. And we’ll teach them more efficiently, because if, after seventeen years of schooling, someone can’t hand assemble a warp drive, then we’ve wasted a lot of time there.
As for everyone else, why don’t we just focus on what the average citizen actually needs? Everyone needs literacy, as you have to have some reading skills to be able to set your shows to record on a DVR. And then we should also teach everyone how to use Google, as that will cover science, history, and math whenever those come up. No reason that basic knowledge can’t be knocked off in a year for each kid.
Now, I know some people are all worried about what all the kids are going to do if they’re no longer in school most of the year, because really, isn’t that most of what school is nowadays — something to keep kids out of our hair during the day? Here’s an idea: You notice how everything is made in China? It’s illegal in the U.S. to pay kids ten cents an hour to manufacture goods, so we just do that overseas instead. That’s idiotic. Why not have our own kids work during the day building plastic trinkets and whatnot? They’d learn useful working skills, come home nice and tired, and they’d actually appreciate earning ten cents an hour, because kids are stupid.
So there’s our solution to the education problem: Instead of trying to make a lot of bad education for everyone when most aren’t even going to use it, let’s focus on making the absolute best education to give to the few who will. Everyone else gets to learn useful skills, and as a bonus we bring manufacturing jobs back to our country. And we save billions of dollars by telling all the teachers’ unions they’re fired and turning most schools into 24-hour gyms and office space. I think I just won the future for us. So is there any problem with this plan other than it being so intensely logical?