Education Reform

Public school tuition is one of my three signature issues. 

We need to get parents invested in their children's education.

We need to get parents invested in their children's education.  GOOD things will happen.  Ask a teacher.  They may not agree on how to get parents invested, though obviously the most direct way is to begin charging tuition.  To guarantee no child is denied an education because his/her parents cannot afford to pay, the tuition could easily be scaled to the parents' ability to pay.

One of the good things about getting parents invested is that it will help reduce the cost of education. We spend about $10,000 a year to send children to public schools which don't have any real competition because they are perceived to be "free", or at least they are not allowed to charge tuition.

The best hope for education in America lies in our innovative spirit and the competition of the marketplace.  That is why I offer the following proposal for the institution of means-tested tuition for public schools coupled with a 1 cent reduction in state sales tax.

Greg Tlapek

Education is the biggest piece of the discretionary budget pie.

Everyone can afford to pay something to educate their children, even if it is just $5 a month.  There are many people who can afford to pay the entire cost of their children’s education. 

Let us reduce the state sales tax by 1%, from 4.225% to 3.225%, and start charging tuition for public schools.  We can raise the amount of money that the 1% sales tax generates, (about $827 million appropriated in FY 2015)(1), by collecting an average of $920/student from the parents of each of the 900,000(2) students in the system. 

Some parents will find it difficult to pay $5 a month.  Some parents with children in public schools could afford to send them to private schools and could afford to pay the entire tuition.  If you are one of them, you know you are getting a sort of free ride off of the government school system.  You also understand the gravity of the problem we will face if we do not address the problem of government spending.  If you think this is a credible solution, vote for me.  Endorse this proposal.  Even if I do not win, if we can show enough support, we will make a difference.

We are spending an average of $10,000 per student per year for K-12 education(3).  That is roughly $1600(4) for every man, woman and child in the state, every year.  There are 1700(5) employees of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  They already implement many complicated laws the federal and state governments have created in administering their 5.755 billion dollar "all-funds" budget (see link above for source).  They can figure out how to implement and collect some means tested tuition. 

As a Libertarian I cannot help but hope that if we acknowledge education is not free and start collecting tuition, it will encourage innovation, bring down the cost, and increase choice in education.  I cannot cite sources, yet I feel sure we do not get the economies of scale which should be expected of the system.  An average tuition of $10,000 means that every hour of the school day we’re spending about $6.40 to keep a student in the classroom, lunchroom or playground.   If ending the perception that education is free and other Libertarian ideas are implemented, I believe there is hope that within a generation the cost of education would fall, and personal incomes from a more prosperous economy would rise to the level that most everyone could pay to educate their own children, as they should.  There is even hope we could end the property taxes for education that keep us paying on our homes long after we have retired our mortgages. 

I would encourage lawmakers to require low income people to pay something for their children's education.  For one thing, they already are.  The accompanying cut in sales taxes will save everyone money.  This proposal creates a more direct relationship between the money spent and the service received. Furthermore, there is a side benefit to changing the perception that education is free.  There is near universal agreement that lack of parental involvement is a main reason when children fail in school.  If parents spend enough money on their children's education to matter to them, they are likely to get involved in their children's education. 

Article IX of the Missouri Constitution provides that the state shall maintain free education.  Education is not free.  The way we are doing it now, it is very expensive, and everyone is paying for it, even the very poor.  There is no justification for taxing poor people to pay tuition for the middle-class and wealthy.  Sales tax is the most regressive, very worst tax for poor people because everyone has to buy things whether or not they make much money. 

Voters passed a dedicated 1% sales tax for education in 1982 called Proposition C.  I suggest that the cleanest way to handle this issue is to have the legislature first put on the ballot for voter approval a proposal to change the wording of the state constitution.  The constitutional language should be changed to end the free ride for education, requiring parents to pay something for their children's education without removing the hope of poor people that they can get an education for their children, too.  If voters pass the constitutional change and subsequently fail to repeal the dedicated school tax, the legislature can reduce by one cent the other three cents of the sales tax that is unencumbered.    If this proposal meets with your approval, everyone can still receive a high school education, regardless of their income.

 ( 1)  p. 2.1 (Prop C Collections)--"In 1982 Missouri voters approved Proposition C, a one-cent sales tax designated to provide additional funds for every student, regardless of a district's reliance on the state's school finance formula." -source
18. MISSOURI 905,755 * 
               NEA Research, Estimates Database (2012).

35. MISSOURI 1,629
               U.S. Census Bureau (2012d). K–12 = "Elementary and Secondary" (see Glossary).


  1. Wow! Forcing all to pay for school is quite a move... you really like to make the democrats work, don't you? lol.

  2. That would be a tremendous move in the right direction. It would immediately bring competition to middle class schooling, because anyone paying a large portion of their child's tuition is not too far from being able to pay from a private school with that money.
    I question how much it would get parents invested who don't seem to care now, but I think it would help. I just don't know how much it would help on that front.



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