Private Education Accounts

There is a concept in some educational circles of forcing everybody to be educated the same way so they can experience ‘oneness.’ In Germany, for example, home-schooling is highly restricted because it undermines this oneness. People are made to be part of a universal society by the content of the universal education.

The problem with this approach is that it programs out other values, and the interplay of values is key to a productive society. A Potentialist society is strengthened by an active marketplace of ideas. People are most productive and creative when exposed to a range of methods of thinking. Potentialism does care about getting people education that enhances their productive and communal potential. But different people will have many different ways of imagining how this might be accomplished. From a public perspective, the goal is to support these efforts while maintaining financial discipline.

One increasingly popular method among conservatives is vouchers. But vouchers have a major problem: anything that is subsidized rises in price or is rationed. As vouchers spread, then educational costs and financial aid will rise in a continual spiral. Just look at higher education or healthcare in the United States.

To improve both costs and quality, you can do something similar to the Private Treatment Accounts. Namely: give parents a voucher and allow those who spend less to keep the difference. Of course, they can also spend more. This will encourage them to seek out both value and quality. But there are some restrictions. First, they can only spend the money on certified programs. Second, they can only keep the money they save if their children pass exams at the end of the year. If children don’t pass exams, then the excess funds are added to the next year’s account in order to enable additional educational spending. In addition, if rates of year-over-year improvement are low, institutions that receive these funds can lose certification.

The Potentialist Party would also make a change to child labor laws. Potentialists wants children to experience productivity as well as the satisfied rest that accompanies the completion of productive tasks. This acts both to encourage productivity and to discourage self-destructive activity that can be kicked off by simple boredom.  In this vein, children would be permitted to work a limited number of hours at tasks that are not physically threatening to them. Child labor, in moderation, can promote human development.