Get Rid of ‘Dropout Factories!’ Billions Lost Because Parents Can’t Pick Better Schools

Get Rid of ‘Dropout Factories!’ Billions Lost Because Parents Can’t Pick Better Schools

Great education changes lives, but what if the only choices nearby for your children are essentially “dropout factories”? You may have heard something recently from John Boehner about how ‘school choice opens a door to the American Dream.’ It’s an idea that’s crossed Paul’s mind before.

“America’s educational system is leaving behind anyone who starts with disadvantages, and that is wrong,” wrote Paul in The Washington Times in February. “Those born in poverty already face significant challenges. For those striving to climb the ladder of success, we must fix our schools.”

His way of fixing things? Let’s throw some good ole American competitive spirit into the mix:

“Let the taxes you pay for education follow each and every student to the school of your choice.

Competition has made America the richest nation in history. Competition can make our educational system the envy of the world.” (Washington Times)

Ashley Bell, an attorney and someone who has a strong interest for education in Georgia, invited Paul to Atlanta last week to share his views on education. He was impressed, telling the Peach Pundit that he was ‘humbled’ to be standing with someone who also believes that “competition and choice is the key to success.”

With all the recent talk about unemployment and anti-poverty programs, perhaps we need to look back and start at the beginning with our broken educational system.

One of the key things that Paul argued last August on the Mark Levin Show (watch the video below) is that education is the ticket for getting people out of poverty.

“…People keep saying ‘Oh no, it’s poverty, you’ve got to get rid of poverty before you can educate people.’ No, you get rid of poverty BY educating people.”

Let’s use the Death Valley example from Ken Robinson’s TED Talk about education:

Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America, and nothing grows there. Nothing grows there because it doesn’t rain. Hence, Death Valley. In the winter of 2004, it rained in Death Valley. Seven inches of rain fell over a very short period. And in the spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon. The whole floor of Death Valley was carpeted in flowers for a while. What it proved is this: that Death Valley isn’t dead. It’s dormant. Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about …

We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and what one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity.

Losing that ability to imagine alternatives and possibilities because of bad education could cost our economy in the future. In fact, it could be costing our economy right now.

One study suggested that dropouts cost the economy billions of dollars because dropouts “earn less money, pay fewer taxes, and spend less.” It’s important more than ever that parents maintain the ability to choose a better education for their children, and that those (especially minorities) who get hit hardest by the lack of choice in their area have alternative options.

Whether it’s through more charter schools or voucher programs (these are all options for school choice supported by Paul), ‘competition and choice’ might just be the things to kickstart a better economy in the future. “Dropout factories” just aren’t cutting it. What are your thoughts? Get the conversation going by leaving a comment below.


(Photo courtesy of Erin Nekervis, via Flickr Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)


LISTEN: ‘You Get Rid of Poverty by Educating People’ (Mark Levin Show 8/26/2013)
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