Paying for Education: What a Concept!

I enjoyed the article in this morning’s Albuquerque Journal on the students at the Southwest Learning Center who are learning to fly through their charter high school. First and foremost, good luck getting this kind of innovative learning opportunity through a traditional charters school. But that isn’t why I liked the article so much.

Buried in the article was a nugget that explained so much of what is wrong with American education (and what is right about this particular charter school). The relevant information is:

Students pay an additional $50 per hour for flight time, which covers most of the cost of instructors.

Greg Roark, director of the schools’ aviation program, said the steep cost to families encourages students to take the program seriously and to work hard.

“There’s value in them paying, because there’s a lesson to be learned that this costs money,” Roark said.

What a novel idea! Students and their families take education more seriously if they have some skin in the game. Having an obvious, direct financial interest in one’s own education would solve many of the major problems we face. Tax credits and other “choice” mechanisms moves the debate in this direction, but our state constitution makes a major shift in this direction difficult.