Tim Draper: What if we had a national School Stamp program to fund K-12 education?

Tim Draper: What if we had a national School Stamp program to fund K-12 education?

I am always thinking about ways we can leverage the resources of our government to best educate our children.

In the United States, governments spend nearly a trillion dollars or roughly $15,120 per pupil per year, yet our children’s reading and math proficiency is abysmal. In California, for example, just 47% of students meet the state’s standards on English language proficiency and just 33% meet standards on math proficiency.

We spend more money on education than any other country, yet the United States lags behind most other industrialized nations in key measurements of academic success.

What if each $15,120 per pupil was sent directly to parents on a School Stamp card to be spent at the schools or with the teachers of their choice?

How much would the parents benefit? Millions of parents are now using food stamps or SNAP because we have agreed that nobody should go without nutrition.

We have also agreed that the children of these recipients should not go without nutrition, so the children are provided for by an additional allotment.

We have also agreed children should not suffer from intellectual or financial destitution due to a poor education.

Imagine a system where parents could place a stop payment due to any substandard curriculum, poor teaching quality, unsafe learning environment or a social disagreement rather than being subjected to ostracization at school board meetings for voicing their concerns.

How could children benefit?

The federal and state governments can work together for year-round open enrollment with no restrictions on education based on where you live.

What types of teaching co-ops could be created in rural outposts throughout America for 50 kids with an annual influx of $600,000?

Think of the online educational opportunities and earnings potential of a high performing teacher with student test results to back it up.

Some teachers will be making millions of dollars every semester and deservedly so.

Some teachers will choose to unionize and create competition amongst unions, some will create co-ops, some will work for traditional brick and mortar institutions and still some will be independent contractors working directly with parents and kids with no additional overhead.

Could the teachers themselves make more money if there were no union or administration?

A federal and state School Stamp program would be one of the largest direct aid programs in the world, nearly a trillion dollars sent on food stamp styled ATM cards every year and still, some would argue for more money for education and they would have merit.

School Stamps derived income to parents and qualified teachers should be exempt from federal and state taxation, which is another means of increasing the amount of money towards education; pay the teachers more.

A hybrid federal and state School Stamp program is a great first step and allows a framework for interested state governments to block grant their financing directly to parents and children and to pay their teachers more by exempting their income.

School Stamps would be a fresh start for how we educate our children, empower our parents and appreciate our teachers.

School Stamps will only become a reality if your state legislature passes it, or if your state passes a school stamp ballot initiative and Congress passes a federal reciprocal school stamp bill signed by the president.

Tim Draper is an investor and founder of Draper University.