Efficient Allocation of Resources
One key factor behind the success of alternative education is the advantage gained through the efficient allocation of resources.
Many forms of alternative education, especially home education in the age of the internet, can avoid the high overhead costs commonly associated with the large buildings, stadiums, transportation networks, and other facilities utilized by government-sponsored mass education. Large buildings are extremely expensive to build, maintain, secure, insure, and renovate. Fleets of school buses incur very high costs related to maintenance, storage facilities, insurance coverage, and fuel. School-crossing guards, cafeteria workers, attorneys, accountants, administrators, and on-site nurses often become necessary in the government school setting.
Alternative educators have the flexibility needed to expend resources directly for immediate student use, rather than for overhead investments that render marginal incidental benefit to any particular student. The focus of resource use, including both time and money, is student-intensive. Textbooks, computers, and customized study aids receive top priority in terms of both the proportional and absolute levels of total educational expenditure.
Alternative education also has an advantage with respect to the flexible and efficient use of labor. A specialized instructor, tutor, class, or lab solution can be introduced in order to address the customized needs or interests of each student. If a student does not need extensive help from a teacher to understand a topic, savings can be realized by not imposing a teacher. Students are free to use educational specialists who have proven their worth on a free-market basis. Outstanding teachers are empowered to tailor the classroom environment, decide which students will provide the best fit for a particular class, and enjoy the respect and compensation they deserve. The result is a congenial, disciplined, innovative learning environment.
Alternative education empowers students to find the best textbooks and curriculum, those tools which are most in harmony with sound technical principles of instructional technology. In contrast, special interest groups control textbooks and curriculum in government schools. Publishers, contractors, and political activists lobby legislators and other government officials for specific content or rules by offering political support, threatening political reprisals, making campaign contributions, and even extortion or bribery. Textbook publishers in the United States have to comply with content mandates issued by at least fifty-two different jurisdictions, resulting in textbooks which are often generic in tone, disjointed in conceptual flow, purged of challenging subject matter, and lacking in practical or personal relevance.
Government schools are also hampered by unique and very costly limitations imposed by legal limitations, complicated procedures, and institutional politics. Because government schools are government actors, public educators must conform to cumbersome due process requirements imposed by federal courts. Because government school boards are elected by the community, government schools unavoidably become entangled in the social political conflicts within their communities. Students are held hostage to costly lawsuits, divisive bickering, and an environment saturated by social engineering instead of skill-instruction. Government schools also engender numerous layers of bureaucracy, which can divert money away from teachers who enjoy teaching and students who need effective learning resources. Even skilled teachers cannot fully compensate for the effects of these crushing obstacles.
Monopolistic public agencies such as government schools tend to incur high fixed and variable costs, which costs are the result of an over-investment in asset-specific capital. Specific assets, being those assets which cannot be readily used for other purposes without high switching costs, create exit barriers. A strong economic incentive to suppress more efficient competitors tends to develop. Predictably, bureaucratic distortions obtain. Opportunism can eventually lead the public agency and/or its employees to act completely contrary to the purpose for which it supposedly exists. Such scenarios can contribute to a situation wherein a state agency becomes a vehicle for destroying parental rights, cultural pluralism, and intellectual diversity.
Alternative education is the key to a prosperous future for many people around the world. Developing countries usually cannot replicate the consumptive patterns of the United States economic and educational systems, but alternative education is a viable option for even the poorest regions of the poorest countries. In the United States and other developed nations, the economy relies upon the kind of entrepreneurship and innovation that famous alternative educators have consistently displayed throughout history. Alternative education is the ladder of opportunity for demographic minorities from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds. If an American home-educated student received the same investment in tax dollars that is typically expended on a per-student basis in an American government school, that home-educated student could use that investment to receive an outstanding Grade 1 – 12 education and go on to fully fund a college bachelor, master, and doctorate degree!
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Efficient Allocation of Resources