Weird Policy Proposal: The A-Tax-Rebate
Fellow Gentleman, Connor Williams did an awesome post on education reform in the US. One thing that kept cropping up in the discussion was that school choice didn’t really solve one of the key underlying problems that plagued the education system: Low levels of parental involvement. To further make it worse, in addition to dead-beat dads, low income folks have it even harder on this part because there are single income parents working ungodly hours trying to bring the dough home. What I generally gleaned from the discussion was that while school choice and vouchers did not solve this, neither did any other existing policy measure proposed by either side. Somehow, a policy proposal popped into my head more or less out of the blue.
The basic policy is this: Each parent gets $700* for each A that their child gets in a district/state/nation-wide examination. They will ge $350 for a B and $50 for a C. They don’t get any rebate for a failing grade. We can means-test it such that only lower income families get the income tax rebate or maybe that lower income families get a higher rate of rebate than middle and higher income families.
The way this works is that this provides an incentive for otherwise deadbeat parents to take an interest in the grades their kids get. Parents who are overworked can also afford to take shorter hours in order to help their kid with his homework: After all its a matter of investment and the opportunity cost of working fewer hours to help your kid is lower.
Of course, I am not sure how well this would work if grades were assigned on a curve rather than according to absolute marks. So, any standardised test administered should not be graded on a curve. Worries about grade inflation are mitigated by having the test be a district, state or nationwide test rather than on a school-wide test.
So a few basic questions for the league is:
1. What do you think of the proposal? How much of the problem will it solve? Will it solve anything? Will it cause other problems?
2. Are there any unintended consequences? What are they?
3. Are there ways to improve the proposal? Or should we just scrap th whole thing as a bad idea and a waste of money?
*4. I’m not particularly committed to the various stated amounts, so fill in the amounts as appropriate. Should we offer larger rebates? or smaller ones?
5. And to muddy the waters a bit: Is this like the insurance mandate and is this really a fine on poor people for their children failing exams?