Education Remedial Billing

Billing School Districts

Charging for Remedial Education

By Daniel Muniz

Colleges and employers already know first hand that merely having a high school diploma is really an unknown variable, especially since many schools are far more interested in the quantity of graduating seniors instead of the quality of their education. But there is an effective way to finally hold our school system directly accountable.

Financially penalize school districts when one of their students has to take a remedial class in college.

Right now, high schools are not academically aligned to the expectations of universities and workplaces. As a result, too many college students have to take at least one or more remedial classes in college. That means that the basics that should have already been mastered in high school have to be repeated.

Many state universities feel that remedial classes are not their responsibility and that they ought to be handled by community colleges. And there are community colleges that are now inundated by students taking remedial classes.

It is obvious that somewhere along the way, our education system has failed if the basics have to be repeated.

Many school districts feel that this situation is not their fault. After all, such students have passed their required classes, passed the required standardized testing, and walked across the stage to receive a diploma. In their book, they feel that they did everything right and that they have washed their hands clean of any accusations regardless if some within their student body didn’t really master reading, writing, or mathematics.

In a way, it becomes a perverse incentive to define academic success in such a way in which all the boxes of a checklist are checked off. That is, a student passed all the required classes and then he or she passed the standardized test and then walks across the stage at graduation. And then bingo, he or she is a now a successful student.

Yes, the penalties against a school were avoided. Yes, the student graduated high school.

But checking all the boxes in the checklist doesn’t mean that a child has mastered the basics that enable him or her to adequately deal with college or the workplace. Universities and employers have been clamoring about this for years.

And parents are not exactly all that supportive in verifying the quality of the education of their children. In fact, many of them are rather indignant about this and tend to side with the school districts. Like, my child did everything that he or she was supposed to do, so what more do you want?

The response ought to be direct and simple. Yes, all those things that were accomplished are nice but did your child actually learn enough to succeed where it counts, like in college or in the workplace?

Right now, many universities and employers are not satisfied with the output from our education system. And some of them are even wondering out loud if America can continue to remain globally competitive if we are not producing the right kind of high school graduates.

The solution of penalizing our schools to improve the quality of education can turn all of this around.

Remedial class at the college level ought to the rare exception instead of the norm. And schools districts ought to be financially liable when that happens instead of passing the buck to someone else.

When a student enrolls in a remedial class at a university or community college, then that institution ought to be able to directly bill the school district that he or she graduated from. And that bill ought to cover the entire dollar amount of the class because tuition itself does not cover the actual cost since some form of legislative subsidy is usually involved.

The moment that school districts are slapped with such bills, then they will start taking the quality of their education more seriously. And losing money is perhaps the biggest penalty that a school wants to avoid.

Some people will shriek in horror because they know that some districts will get walloped and perhaps lots of budgets will be devastated.

But what is wrong with that?

The suburban school district I graduated from has “two” separate football stadiums, a huge natatorium, plenty of shiny new buildings, and a huge curriculum that is outside of the basics. If they get thrashed by too many bills from colleges, then so be it. They will then have to concentrate their huge budget on ensuring that every kid gets a quality education instead of just getting past a checklist. The same goes for the suburban district that I live in.

Money talks.

And it will talk really loud when you threaten to take a lot of it away.

But this sort of policy will shift the emphasis to where it belongs, to the basics of our education system.

However, I do want to point out one important item. Nowhere in this article did I ever mention teachers. I only castigated school systems. The reason is simple. The harsh reality is that teachers are employees, not managers. And as employees, they only do what they are told to do or they do what they are allowed to do.

Most educators have stringent limits that were established either by structure or by coercion. As a result, they didn’t create the mess of a watered down education. Instead, they have to live with it and teach it, thus they shouldn’t be held liable for it.