In Milton Friedman's book, Capitalism and Freedom and I'm sure certainly in other places, it's been suggested that, since private institutions are by definition better at satisfying the wants of its customers, that education should be privatized.
States spend upwards of $8,000 per child on education, and yet the system is still failing our kids. In many cases, private school tuition isn't even as costly, yet private schools tend to do a far better job at education than the public system.
What if, where possible (I'll get to exceptions below), all public schools were privatized, and instead, vouchers were sent out by the government to every high-school age child. The vouchers would be worth $8,000, and the student could choose any school he wished to attend. Schools could be operated not-for OR for profit, and would be forced to compete against one another for students.
- More efficiency (inherent in private vs. public)
- Teachers paid according to merit, not seniority
- Parents and children could attend the school they wanted to, with a focus on things they care about. I.e. Athletic children go to the school with the best sport program etc.
- Better education: private schools are typically more successful at educating than public schools, as the incentives line up better.
Exceptions and Rules
- In small towns, the public schools would either have to be highly regulated, or remain public due to monopoly issues
- All schools would have to be inspected/regulated to ensure they meet the minimum standard of education (similar to the way private schools are now)
The same idea could be applied to university education. Instead of state schools vs. private schools, just give all university students a voucher. There is no reason private schools should have to compete against state subsidized institutions - it's fundamentally unfair.