Consider alternative schooling

It’s easy to miss just how much inflexibility is introduced into American life by the traditional public school approach, but those rigidities are legion.

Real estate prices, for example, are heavily influenced by the quality of local public schools. Poor people often can’t afford to attend top-flight public schools because they can’t afford to live in the wealthy district. People who own property in those districts, meanwhile, stand to lose a significant amount of their home’s value if the school board rezones them into a district with less-favored schools. Often people are forced to live in areas they’d otherwise rather not — because of long commutes, for example — simply in order to avail their kids of a decent education. By cutting the link between location and school quality, those problems could be eliminated, likely resulting in substantial savings for society — and parents.

And the intractibility isn’t just about space. It’s also about time. Without a public school schedule, vacations can be taken when the family wants to, not when school bureaucrats schedule them; school days can be moved around to accommodate parents’ work schedules and medical needs, and, perhaps most importantly, kids with more flexible school hours are more able to enter the workplace, which can be more educational than many things that happen in school.

I can attest to this firsthand. My daughter did most of her high school online, after spending one day in ninth grade keeping track of how the public high school she attended spent her time. At the end of eight hours in school, she concluded, she had spent about 2½ hours on actual learning.