Key provisions

  • You can't have progress without addressing all three components. Schools must agree to ensure all 3 components (teacher, environment, system) will be implemented with proven (qualifying) approaches, or funding will not be granted. If these components are not achieved or maintained, funding will not be renewed.
  • if schools comply with all 3 components, funding will be renewed at a level adequate to maintain the programs indefnitely
  • some schools (such as those in poor districts or with old buildings that need replacement) need more funding than others to meet all three components; the federal and/or state government normal funding level plus this incentive should supply the minimum $$ per pupil necessary to achieve the program requirements for that school.  Local funds can supplement this and provide an even higher level of education. 
  • funding must be up front, e.g., school agrees to proven programs, and then is given the funding for 1 year to implement it. If things go well, the funding is continued. Without money up front, it's a catch-22.
  • funding will only be granted if school can ensure all three goals can be achieved in the first year. Therefore, for example, if teachers union doesn't agree to allow principals to fire teachers, no incentives are supplied.
  • there is a tiered system of curriculum and standards; federal and state. Ideally, federal government supplies 80% of the curriculum and standards and local school districts the remaining customizations. It shouldn't be necessary to customize on a state basis. So teachers can finally focus on teaching.
  • Since budget allocations will not be sufficient to allow all schools to participate (nor will all schools be willing to sign up immediately), there should be a match between the supply of funds and demand. If demand exceed supply, then parents will pressure legislators to increase the funding which is exactly how this program grows.
  • States are encouraged to adopt complementary legislation and actually administer the program (determining grant amounts, etc.) That way, the federal government can  just "match" the state incentive contribution.


  • In many schools, a principal cannot even ask teachers to attend after school meetings. Principals cannot select their on staffs. Tenure blocks the removal of failing teachers. Principals spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with complying with mountains of state regulations. Principals that are willing to put up with this type of environment often turn out not to be strong leaders in the first place. A former teacher's union president said that he will start worrying about kids when they become members of the union. I'm concerned that this is about power and control. What kind of incentives do you have in mind that can overcome these structural issues? (Answer: with money and a win/win environment as the carrot, people are willing to negotiate so that the school can qualify for incentives).


To improve the educational system in America so that it is the best in the world. 

Key strategy
Create legislation at the federal and/or state levels that will provide significant monetary incentives K-12 schools to adopt and fully implement any educational systems that meets certain qualifying conditions. Incentives are on-going and are based upon the completeness of the implementation of the program aspects, as well as independently measured student achievement.

Qualifying programs would be programs (such as NCEE) that are proven to be effective. In addition, each qualifying program would have to support the national curriculum, standards, and assessments. These would all be set and maintained through a non-political, non-partisan mechanism (such as CPRE).

The keys to success include adequate funding, sufficient time to implement the system, a clear focus/vision on what is to be done, setting high standards, aligning everything, challenging curriculum, qualified teachers and principals who have the proper training and who can focus on how to teach, rather than what to teach, and small class sizes.

A national curriculum is not strictly required, but it makes the process much more efficient so that states and local districts can focus on teaching, and on local enhancements to the base curriculum. Since this is an incentive program, and not a mandatory program, national curriculum and standards should be acceptable. The key is to delegate these standards to a non-political forum as outlined below.


Qualifying Program (QP)
Only educational systems that are determined by the TA to meet certain conditions will qualify for the incentives. These conditions are:

  • Must be a complete K-12 educational system, such as NCEE's America's Choice, and not a specific program such as an early reading program
  • Must be adopted and in-use at at least  50 public schools within the US and in at least 4 states (at least 10 schools at each grade level: elementary, middle, high).
  • Must have be capable of achieving at least an average 50% pass-rate improvement over a control group of similar students.
  • Must implement the national standards and curriculum

Qualifying School (QS)
Only schools that meet certain conditions will qualify for the incentives. These conditions are:

  • Must meet certain maximum class size requirements (e.g., average of 20 or lower in lower grades and average of 25 or lower in the higher grades)
  • Teachers must all be properly credentialed and prepared to teach the subject(s) they are teaching
  • Principal must be certified/trained and adequately compensated
  • Teacher and principal salaries must be above a certain threshold
  • Principal must be empowered and able to fire teachers who are not performing, select staffs, hold meetings with teachers, etc.
  • School must provide an adequate environment for learning: running water, roofs that don't leak, textbook, teaching materials, etc.

The intent is to keep these requirements pretty simple since poor teachers and/or principals will show up in a failure to implement or perform which should put pressure on the district to attend to low performing schools.

Testing Agency (TA)
The Testing Agency is used to:

  • Qualify the QPs
  • Set the national curriculum and standards
  • Provide the assessment systems used to assess the schools for the purposes of determining the amount of  incentives that the school is eligible for. These including student assessments against the curriculum and standards as well as assessments for determining implementation compliance of the QP.

The incentives funds

Adoption (year 1 only)
You get $2K per student when you commit to adopting the program. This funds the first year.

Implementation (years 2 and following)
Each QP has a checklist for each implementation year of the program. You get $1K per student times the % of items completed on the checklist for that year.

Performance (years 2 and following)
You get $1K per student if your performance on exams is at the expected level. The amount of the incentive is proportionally less than this if the school is not improving its performance at the rate that is expected by a nominal implementation of the particular QP. Because there is no incentive for overachievement, there is no incentive to cheat on the assessments; it shouldn't be necessary.

Use of incentive funds
The incentive funds provided may be used for any purpose that is related to the success of the QP. This gives a school a very broad latitude for the use of funds. If the school spends the funds wisely, they will find that their incentive funds each year continue at the same rate. If the school spends the incentive funds without due care, the school may find that their incentive funds with naturally get smaller over time.

Examples of permissible uses:

  • pay the QP fees
  • expenses directly required to implement the QP
  • provided needed repairs to classrooms
  • increase teacher salaries
  • purchase textbooks

Example of prohibited uses:

  • ?

A potential funding source (federal)
Today, our educational system is in virtual last place on an international scale. The big problem in America today is that we are being short changed in education, not overcharged on taxes. So instead of a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years, let's skip the tax cut and funnel those funds instead into a special lockbox fund to improve education in the US. 

When Bush met with tech leaders from Silicon Valley, they told him the same thing: "fix education." Putting more spending money in consumer's pocket wasn't even mentioned as an issue.

President Bush has said education is the most important problem in the United States. The $1.6 trillion could be effectively deployed to fix this problem. Funneling these funds back to taxpayers over 10 years doesn't solve our top problem. It solves nothing. Let's use those funds to solve our top problem. If we have funds left over, then let's use those to solve our next big problem. And when we're out of problems to solve, we'll return that money to the taxpayers in the form of lower taxes.