By Justin Reich
"The plan espoused by Education Reform in the Digital Era proposes that students should no longer receive a comprehensive education from a single school. Rather, we should "unbundle" holistic schools and replace them with a free market of classes, where kids buy their education like they were buying dinner from conveyor belt sushi: whatever suits their fancy, one piece at a time.
"The key policy change that the Fordham authors propose is to "voucherize" school funding, so every student gets directly allotted their portion of municipal educational expenses. Then, as Paul Hill explains:
'Each student's account would, in a sense, constitute a "backpack" of funding that the student would carry along to any eligible school or instructional programs in which he or she enrolls. The contents of the backpack would be flexible dollars, not coupons whose use is restricted to a particular course or service.
'If a family decided to rely on one school or instructional provider for all of a child's education, all of the money would go to that school or provider. However, students might also enroll in courses provided by different organizations, in which case the funds would be divided. Students and families would then be free to shop for the best combination of courses and experiences their backpack funds could cover. Providers would compete with one another to offer services that were of high quality, effective, and reasonably priced.'
"In this model, schools are no longer comprehensive providers of a holistic educational experience, but rather the producers and marketers of a line of educational products. Students could outfit themselves with an entire line from one school, or they could could pick and choose from providers, buying math from Khan Academy, Spanish from Rosetta Stone, and biology from the Discovery Institute, the chief advocates of Intelligent Design. No longer would kids be bound to their neighborhood school; instead, they could shop the world for courses."