Realtors know that for some homebuyers, good schools can be a one of a home’s strongest selling points.
National Association of Realtors economist Lawrence Yun has an idea for improving schools: divert some of the money earmarked for public education, and let "smart, trusted people" like Oprah Winfrey, T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffet pick "entrepreneurs to come up with a new educational system."
Yun’s suggestion comes in a blog post about the critical role worker productivity plays in economic growth.
He says the U.S.’s 3 percent annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is due to the "simple math of a 1 percent rise in population and a 2 percent rise in worker productivity."
Over time, a small boost in GDP growth — due either to faster population growth or increased worker productivity — could have a huge impact on national income, tax revenue and government debt.
If GDP grew at 5 percent instead instead of 2 percent, Yun says, by 2040 the federal government could be netting $11.4 trillion in tax revenue instead of $4.8 trillion, without raising taxes — "more than plentiful to cover just about any government program, pay off debt, and then some."
Some ideas that have been put forward for boosting worker productivity include cutting taxes, investing in infrastructure, or subsidizing high-tech education.
"A wacky idea would involve constantly cloning figures like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs," Yun jokes.
But Yun is not kidding when he advocates a "competition of best ideas" in education.
For-profit entrepreneurs "may be able to deliver drastically higher results at a lower cost," he says in advocating that policymakers "carve out" funding from public education. "We should not be disturbed by the profit motive of entrepreneurs provided that the students, particularly those of low-income families, are able to become highly productive."
Publicly funded charter schools have already caught on in many communities as an alternative to traditional schools, although debate continues over concerns that charter schools may "skim the cream," attracting top students and undermining support for the funding of traditional public schools.