If you want to get excited by hearing a brand-new idea, read Jonathan Butcher’s latest study on education savings accounts, which explores the possibilities for families if they were combined with mobile payment technologies. Yes, that sounds dry, so here’s an illustration to whet your interest:
John Makusi Simiyu operates a nondescript real estate and transportation company in Nairobi, Kenya. Yet Simiyu uses what may be the most advanced way to send and receive money in the world: M-PESA. A telecommunications company created M-PESA in 2007, and anyone in Kenya or Tanzania with a cellphone can use the system to deposit money, pay bills, and transfer funds to family and friends. Simiyu also uses M-PESA to pay his employees and transfer money to his customers.
Simiyu explains that when one of his vehicles breaks down, he doesn’t have to run the risk of carrying large amounts of cash to remote areas. ‘Just call me, tell me your problem and how much you need and I will text it through M-Pesa system,’ Simiyu told the BBC.
‘I don’t need to go the bank when I have the bank in my phone.’
The connections to education are obvious. Education savings accounts, of course, give parents maximum control over their children’s education by depositing their child’s public education dollars in a savings account parents control. Butcher explores the possibilities for combining this with mobile payment – the easiest analog for which, among Americans, is the PayPal app on your phone. Parents could pay the piano teacher or speech therapist with a quick phone bump each time they meet for a lesson.
While some mobile payment solutions like M-PESA and Square are not even 10 years old, a growing body of research on M-PESA and similar systems indicates that M-PESA causes more money to circulate in communities where the payment service is available. This activity promotes the growth of small businesses. The education marketplace is populated with small businesses such as personal tutors and education therapists.
You’ll want to read the whole thing. If you’re feeling zippy, follow it with this chaser: Mike McShane’s new discussion of the state of education entrepreneurship.
SOURCES: American Enterprise Institute, Goldwater Institute
IN THIS ISSUE:
- MISSOURI: A mother is suing to end a program that prohibited her son from transferring to a different school merely because he is black.
- DC: While the U.S. House has passed a bill to keep the DC voucher program going, it faces an uphill battle getting passed during this election year, with 1,200 children’s school tuition on the line.
- LOUISIANA: Approximately 95 percent of parents whose children use state vouchers say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the program and their children’s academic performance, finds a new survey. And a decade after the state took over New Orleans schools due to gross financial and academic woes, it will now return control of them to the local school district, with the exception of local charter schools.
- TESTING: Because test results are only weakly tied with young people’s long-term outcomes, we shouldn’t lean on them to judge school choice programs, argues Jay Greene. Instead, he says, we should trust parents because they make better choices than bureaucrats do on their behalf.
- CHOICE: A record high of approximately 400,000 children are using private school choice programs now, according to the American Federation for Children’s 2016 school choice yearbook. That’s less than 1 percent of U.S. schoolchildren.
- FLORIDA: Judges heard arguments this week about whether a teachers union can sue to stop tax credit scholarships.
- UTAH: Facing a tough primary in which his opponent has made this a key issue, Gov. Gary Herbert is finally calling for the state board of education to rewrite Common Core and eliminate some tests. In-state Common Core critic and teacher Christel Swasey has more.
- TESTING: Leonie Haimson explains why grading Common Core tests with machines is likely to give unreliable results.
- NEW YORK: Amazon.com has signed a $30 million deal to provide digital curriculum in New York City, marking one of its first forays into the education market.
- NORTH CAROLINA: The state has promised to revamp Common Core but is mostly rebranding, say in-state analysts.
- NEW JERSEY: The state has revised and renamed Common Core.
- WEST VIRGINIA: A middle school has found dramatic success with unruly students by using “reverse suspension,” where offending students’ parents join them at school for a day.
- GENDER: Complaints about discrimination in public schools have soared over the past year, according to new federal data; half of these complaints are about students with disabilities, although sexual misconduct charges have also grown. Meanwhile, 73 parents and 63 students in Illinois are suing a school district for agreeing with federal demands that it allow a transgender child into the girls’ locker room. A mother participating in the suit said: “We truly do care about these children who struggle with gender identity, and these children are welcome in my home. All I ask is that the respect go both ways. That’s what we’re not seeing. We’re just seeing demands.”
- MICHIGAN: After teacher “sick-outs” closed 94 Detroit schools, the state House of Representatives has approved half-a-billion dollars to once again address Detroit’s massive spending crisis, along with canceling union contracts, paying teachers based on performance, and removing extra paperwork and credentialing requirements for prospective teachers.
- SURVEILLANCE: A bill in Congress would allow the federal government to send a child’s private information to anyone a bureaucrat approves, without notifying the child or his or her guardians.
- DISINVITATION: Virginia Tech has re-invited African-American writer Jason Riley to speak on its campus after he produced email evidence of the original invitation when school officials said it didn’t exist.
- WISCONSIN: Curbs on education unions in 2011 have saved taxpayers more than $5 billion, allowed freer communication between teachers and supervisors, and freed school leaders to make more of their own decisions, finds a new report.
- ARNE DUNCAN: Now that Arne Duncan has left the U.S. Department of Education, Rick Hess unloads on his education policy legacy.
- ILLINOIS: Another school district has installed fingerprint scanners for students to ring up their lunches. Parents aren’t complaining, but privacy advocates are.