Monday, October 12, 2015

Thoughts on Decentralization and Public Education

In a recent post which highlights a Reihan Salam article regarding public schools, Scott Sumner notes:
Democrats think Republicans are corrupt, and Republicans think Democrats are corrupt.
Many political struggles revolve around how money gets spent on time based services. When most services become indirectly funded through redistribution, voters end up in battles, trying to remove service options from one another. Since meritocratic skills compensation tends to rely on resources which prove impossible to quantify, there is an insufficient services marketplace for all concerned. How could decentralization overcome some of these problems? Scott Sumner suggests an option for local education:
Decentralization doesn't mean you can't have some tax redistribution to poorer neighborhoods. But it should be lump sum redistribution. And once you've done the redistribution then 100% of each marginal dollar spent on a school should come from taxes levied in the neighborhood that sends kids to that school. 
Only consider how many taxes are already apportioned this way, given the fact schooling is often the major financial responsibility for municipalities in the U.S. These costs are also reflected in local rents, and home ownership implies a permanent obligation to local education. Even so, "returns" to this basic community responsibility play out differently, depending on income levels. How might one think about parents and students in this regard?

For upper income levels, benefits for parents and students alike are generally quite worthwhile. These schools are more likely to tap into the dialogue, logic and reasoning one expects to utilize in more prosperous regions. Upper income levels can take part in relatively open ended patterns (across regions) of mutual economic sustainability. Here, services formation is possible based on what monetary coordination can generate. As a result, students from higher income public schools, can tap into existing resources which extend well beyond the boundaries of local responsibility for education.

Even though other schools may aspire to provide similar attributes, this form of economic entry is somewhat limited by definition. For lower income levels, a lifetime of school tax obligations in local community might not provide sufficient reward for the commitment involved. These students aren't provided with the skills sets which many workplaces now require. But the biggest problem is that public education has not provided sufficient means for community members to assist one another in their daily lives. Knowledge use systems could address this, by making it possible to create services diversity.

Due to the fact lower income levels have insufficient income for needed services, skills value also needs the supplementation of potential time value. Knowledge use systems would allow educational efforts to go well beyond the teachers which would otherwise be hired for specific subjects. Often, basic subjects can also be tapped through books and digital media, and supplemented with the coordinated time value of local residents. Each individual would have the option of "hiring" local private tutors through matched time value, when needed.

Over time, lower income levels could generate a wealth of skills and resource capacity which otherwise would not have been available to them. Time arbitrage gives local skills use "votes" to contribute to service formation, in contrast to services limitations which governments are otherwise faced with. New wealth is possible through matched time value, and local property taxes for education would gain the chance to evolve to more useful frameworks. Education on these terms would provide a continuity to community formation, and knowledge use on more sustainable terms.

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