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Education is big business, even public education; yet the issue of funding especially public education has ever been an issue, as profits generated from educational products and services are not usually routed to education. I here demonstrate how the marketing of education-related products and services, in addition to other synonymous initiatives, can generate a surplus of revenues to supplement if not supersede government expenditures for education, from public schools to higher education.

Routing Profits Generated by School-Related Products & Services to Education

Retailers of school-related products gross billions of dollars annually; yet, and I’d venture to say that many if not most of those retailers do not otherwise support education, though the primary retailers of school-related products (from supplies to clothing and shoes, etc.) and services should be those who invest in education. Education as an industry is so lucrative that it can very likely be self-sustaining without government funding necessarily, if the primary revenues generated by school-related products and services were in fact routed to education.

The Department of Education should be primary owner and operator of both wholesale and retail education-related products and services; and all other vendors and marketers of school-related products and services should be charged additional taxes for educational purposes.

Department of Education Owned & Ran School Depots

Department of Education owned and ran school depots would be mega wholesale/retail stores that would market only school-related products, i.e. student and educator/classroom supplies (from Smartboards to laptops, etc.), uniforms, and other popular clothing items, shoes,* and accessories (*the popular shoes alone would reel in millions). Students and parents/guardians would be encouraged via flyers and other marketing material to shop at school depots, as profits from those purchases would primarily benefit education, whereas purchases of school-related supplies, apparel, etc. from other stores would be more expensive and less of the profits would actually benefit education.

School Depot Online Store, Deliveries, and Catalogs

School Depot would produce and distribute catalogs. It would also have an online store from which purchases could be made. The schools [and others] would be capable of purchasing bulk supplies, for storage and administrative use and to stock their campus supplies stores, and having such items delivered by local School Depot distributors by selecting this option.

Expanding and/or Incorporating Supplies Stores into All Schools

School supplies stores would be expanded so as to entail items like Universal Serial Bus (USB) or jump drives, dictionaries, thesauruses, calculators, school uniforms, and other school apparel and supplies.

Supplies stores would be incorporated into all schools to make student supplies readily available as needed. It is inconvenient for some parents to purchase school supplies for their children, whether it’s a transportation or other issue.

School Catalogs and/or Online Stores

School catalogs and/or online stores could optionally become a component of school supplies stores. Students would be capable of retrieving pre-arranged online purchases on campus in lieu of shipment, which would be encouraged. An option would be presented at the check-out stage of purchases where the purchaser can indicate that they or the student(s) for whom they’re purchasing the items would be picking them up.

Tax Payer Filing Deductions as a Means of Supporting Education

Another method of raising funds for educational purposes, including student activities and supplemental student supplies, etc. is through tax payer deductions during income tax filing periods. Funds would be solicited on filing applications in a manner similar to solicitations for other causes. That query might read something like “Do you wish to donate $1 or more to help needy students purchase school supplies, participate in school activities, or for the general support of education?

Filing Deductions for Specific Students

Under the proposed, parents and others with the complete names and/or Social Security Numbers of specific students would be capable of having withheld and routed to the schools of those particular students specific amounts on their behalf. For example, parents, etc. could request that specific amounts be withheld to cover meal costs, field trips, and activities for the entire school year for their or other children. (It should also be possible to make contributions to students at any time via their schools, which would route the funds to their student accounts). This would not be a discriminatory privilege for any student. It would simply secure funds from parents who are capable of paying for their children’s school supplies (which should primarily be purchased via the schools and during registration periods), and activities.

Income Rather than Property Taxes as the Determinant of Education Funding & Quality

Government funding and quality of education should not be predicated on property taxes or the community that a student lives in. There are as many or more individuals with children attending public schools and otherwise who pay income taxes and are renters who could share the costs across the board of adequately and equally funding public education for all schools (and all else that is traditionally funded by property taxes). Eliminating property taxes and securing those funds via a slight hike in income taxes for all workers would mean that students attending traditionally underprivileged public schools would be privileged to the same quality of education as students who have traditionally lived in communities with the “best” schools, so to speak, and all homeowners would actually own their homes once they have paid for them.

Making School (and Community) Sponsorship More Meaningful

School and community sponsorship is another method via which funding can be secured or better secured for educational purposes. School sponsorship can and should be more meaningful than periodic donations of computers to or for campus library make-overs, etc. for subject schools (although this is very helpful). These programs would be more impactful if they were to address more of the particulars of struggles of individual students and/or their households that may adversely affect their academic performance. Those struggles can range from parental unemployment or underemployment and inability to pay rent or mortgage and/or utilities, or to purchase groceries, clothing, furniture, etc.

Address of these issues could entail anything from sponsors offering employment to parents/guardians of underprivileged children within their sponsored schools/communities to disbursements in the form of direct payment to rent or mortgage realtors, gas or utility companies, [1] gift cards for groceries and school supplies, and/or scholarships for parents. Cars and/or mini-vans for families in need of transportation, furniture for those in need of furniture, clothing for those in need of clothing, [2] funding for housing and even apartment and other community property renovations, where needed, are other such provisions that would be made upon approved requests.

School/community sponsorship could also consist of groups of businesses, churches, sports franchises, and philanthropists generally pooling their resources for accomplishment of measurable results in public schools in their respective and other communities. For example, a local Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Kroger would pool their resources to sponsor a local school or school zone, i.e. Northside High School in Memphis (one of my alma maters) or its entire school zone and/or a Haitian school and/or community, etc.

Each group of sponsors would contribute a set amount of funds to a choice bank on its elected school or school zone’s behalf, i.e. $10 million a year.

The Department of Education would incorporate a comprehensive alphabetized list of school sponsors into its website that would be linked to each respective sponsored school. Prospects would be capable of registering to sponsor their choice schools and/or school zones/communities via the noted site.

Each school would mail or distribute letters and questionnaires via students to parents and/or student guardians discussing the nature of the proposed initiative, encouraging response to the noted sponsor queries with SASE. The noted questionnaires would present the option of requesting an application for assistance, which would be mailed upon request. No promises would be made to any such families, however, to curtail any potential misunderstandings regarding perceived entitlement to resources.

Designated representatives would review applications and disburse funds/resources throughout the course of each school year to qualifying families and insomuch as funds are available, giving priority to those in greatest need.

Incorporating Sponsorship Initiatives Into Student Support Service

The proposed student sponsorship initiative would be incorporated into the Student Support office or division of each school and overseen or managed by Student Support at each respective regional office. Student Support would organize projects, manage sponsor funds, and process student and/or parental applications for assistance.

Representatives from local school boards would facilitate meetings amongst sponsors and assist in preparation of group plans. Copies of such plans, which would entail budget details, would be remitted to each involved sponsor representative, educational board, the sponsored school, etc.

Student Support would additionally manage its share of funds from the previously prescribed tax payer filing deductions for specific and other students, seeing that there are no financial aid offices within public schools.

Student Accounts

All public and charter [as well as private] school students would have accounts within their respective schools that would keep consolidated record of all of their financial transactions within those particular schools, similar to collegiate accounts of this sort. Students would be capable of utilizing either their student identification or, optionally, be distributed distinct cards that would entail their respective photographs and might bear and be named for their school mascots (i.e. a cougar or eagle card). The noted cards would be utilized to load funds into each respective student’s account. These particular cards or the student’s identification would as well be utilized to make any campus payments or purchases, including payments for meals (for students who must pay for their meals), school activities (i.e. field trips, picture-taking, etc.), library fines, textbook fines, and other payments, as well as campus book store or supplies purchases, etc.

During registration periods, as in college, qualifying students would receive book store or supplies credit and may use the funds to purchase up to all items on pre-determined supplies lists for their grades, as well as book bags, Universal Serial Bus (USB) or jump drives, school uniforms, and other school apparel and supplies at their respective school book or supplies stores (ALL public, charter, and private schools should have their own book or supplies stores to secure school-related profits to the fullest possible extent). Each school book or supplies store would distribute coupons and/or informational flyers to the previously proposed school depots with each purchase.

All students could optionally be credited a nominal amount of funds at the beginning of each school year, i.e. $4.00 that could be applied towards printing documents in their school campus libraries, too a collegiate practice.

The goal at large of the proposed initiative would be to offer immediate emergency assistance to student households experiencing crisis that hamper or that could hamper students’ academic performance or that may negatively impact students’ behavior, and to offer educational, employment, and other self and familial-empowering services and/or resources to parents that would empower them to provide more student-conducive home environments.

Professional Sports Summer Camp Sponsorship & Other Initiatives

Professional sports franchises, like the NFL (National Football League), the NHL (National Hockey League), NBA (National Basketball Association), MLB (Major League Baseball), the PGA (Professional Golf Association), the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), etc. and/or individual teams or players would ideally sponsor summer camp and fitness programs for underprivileged youth who would not otherwise be privileged to such programs, which would also entail complimentary meals and transportation for participants. The noted would help to distinguish and/or develop sports talent where it might not otherwise be realized.

Enclosing of Public School Football Fields

Particularly in light of various incidences of heat-related illness and even death amongst student athletes, preventive measures should be taken to curtail students’ exposure to excessive heat during sports practice sessions. In actuality many if not most professional football arenas are indoors and air conditioned, as public school arenas should be as much as is reasonably possible. Public school arenas could likewise entail concessions stands and other stores that would market each respective school’s apparel and other memorabilia, and that could be completely staffed by students during sporting events.

Public Park & Community Center Development Initiatives

Professional sports franchises would also be of the ideal sponsors of public park and community center development initiatives that avail sporting and other physical activities that are designed for community enjoyment and to promote public health. Those initiatives might entail incorporating either or all of the following elements into public parks: walking/bicycling* trails and bicycle racks to chain & lock bicycles during park operating hours, tennis courts, sanded volleyball courts, football fields, baseball courts, dugouts and bleachers, basketball courts or goals, hopscotch courts, playground equipment (including slides and swing sets, etc.) for young as well as older children, barbeque pits, benches, sheltered picnic tables, working water fountains & lavatories, sprinklers that would be timed for sprinkling at determined hours, preferably on a cemented platform, for public enjoyment during the summer months, mobile outdoor movie theater systems that would be delivered and operable on scheduled community movie nights (*Walking and bicycling groups, etc. could be formed via social networking sites and otherwise that would meet and walk and/or ride bicycles together at either of the public parks). The possibilities are endless!

Stationary vendor booths for the selling of concessions and other merchandise would create business opportunities for licensed vendors.

Park security would continue to be entailed in city police duties.

Legends with park and community history would be an excellent way to familiarize the community and visitors with the origins of any given park and/or community.

Community center initiatives would include purchase and donation of exercising equipment for community use, i.e. Total Gyms, Treadclimbers, recumbent bicycles, etc., as well as exercising DVDs for use in appointed rooms, which would also be ideal for public libraries.

Community Socials, Outings & Shuttles/Buses

Community centers could also host community socials and outings to the movies, sporting events, theme parks, picnics and/or cookouts, etc. Each community center would optionally have its own shuttle or bus for the prescribed purposes. The noted socials and outings would be entailed in each community center’s monthly calendar of events; sign-up would be on a first come first serve basis.

MORE ON THE POTENTIAL PROJECTS THAT THE PROPOSED INITIATIVES CAN BENEFIT

*Indigent & All Student Inclusion in Public School Activities

Student exclusion from school activities, like parties, picture taking, field trips, etc. due to indigence or inability of a student or their parents to pay produces a similar psychological effect in a student as if he or she were being socially excluded by a school bully. All students should be privileged to all school activities, despite indigence.

*Tackling the Issue of Homelessness Amongst Students

It is difficult to fathom anyone being subjected to the harsh seasonal elements of our frigid winters and blistering summers, but it is nearly beyond belief that there are 1.37 million children living on the streets right here in the United States. About 40% of the homeless in America are families with minor children. (Wikipedia, “Homelessness in the United States,” Nov. 3, 2006)

Well over half of these children are not attending school, and many grow into adulthood without ever setting foot in a school. Many develop emotional or psychological disorders and/or resort to suicide (It is clear, thus, that there is a strong correlation between poverty and psychological disorders, and that the essential cure is treating the root cause, poverty).

All homeless families with minor children, in both urban and rural areas, should receive EMERGENCY or priority relief/shelter, even if it means relocating them to other towns or cities.

Students are required to complete a form each year communicating their living arrangements to the respective schools that they are attending. Notwithstanding, when students indicate that they are homeless, particularly if they are sleeping outside or in vehicles, the schools should ALWAYS intervene by locating shelters that would take them and any accompanying parents and/or guardians and siblings, etc. in. The schools should have information available for distribution to these students/their parents or guardians about the facilities that would service them. The schools should also make transportation arrangements to get them to the facilities, whether it’s driving them there in school or site vehicles or telephoning the facilities where they’d be residing to request transportation services, if the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student client do not have vehicles. If they do have vehicles they should be offered an escort or given printed or written directions to the facility where they and the student client(s) would be residing.

Letters should be disbursed to parents of homeless children informing them of the importance and requirement, per the Departments of Education & Human Services, of immediately reporting to designated residential facilities where they and the student clients would be safe, fed, and privileged to showers, toiletries, beds, and other restorative services and resources.

Succinct Housing for Homeless Students & Their Families

At least one succinct residential facility or complex that would house homeless students and their families should be opened in every school district or region, or so as to service every homeless student and their accompanying families within the district or region (It would be much less expensive in the long haul for homeless students to be serviced with their families, who would be rendered vocational, employment, and other services, where applicable, that would enable them to eventually function independent of government assistance, as opposed to assigning homeless students to foster or state care).

Priority would be given to students and other children and their families who are living in the streets or in cars, and, accordingly, students and their families who are residing in short-term or emergency shelters would be referred to these facilities or complexes, which would be ideally located near schools with low enrollment.

The noted facilities would also offer services like transportation and/or provisions for it for employment searches and interviews, as well as for educational and other relevant purposes. They too would assist clients with obtaining Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses and/or state identification, public assistance, permanent housing, etc.

Such facilities in rural or remote areas would be built within walking distance of schools and/or on school bus routes, preferably within walking distance of grocery and other stores.

Homeless Task Forces in each city would be charged with the task of locating and placing these families (Perhaps the individuals who record the stats of the homeless could assist in this effort) —No child left behind!

* Proliferation of Adolescent Parenting Programs As Optionally a Teen Living/Sex Education Laboratory Component for All Students

Adolescent parenting programs in public schools have availed numerous students with young children the privilege of graduating from high school while rendering their children the advantage of earlier education. Other students (whether they have children or not) could benefit from the program as a preventive measure, however, that could become a component of or a laboratory element of Teen Living and/or sex education programs.

The aim of opening the course to students who do not have children would be to discourage them from having them until they are truly ready, preferably married and/or in relationship with loving and responsible partners, and until they are financially and emotionally capable of parenting. The course would ultimately provide adequate parenting skills for future application for this sect of students should and when they do become parents.

Students would be taught to appropriately feed/burp, change, hold, and interact with children, and would be lectured on the related costs and full scope of responsibilities that come along with becoming a parent. Students would also learn parenting methods and participate in child abuse prevention training, and learn appropriate methods of discipline.

Students with children participating in the programs would be asked to rotationally address or speak to their class mates regarding the dynamics of teen parenthood, how having a child or children has impacted their lives (however adorable their babies/children are), and what advice they’d give to those student participants who do not have children. Students would also participate in and watch videos to this effect.

Proliferation of adolescent parenting programs could also avail earlier learning opportunities to the children of low income working parents who cannot afford childcare and may not have a steady system of support, and all on the token of addressing the issue of low enrollment and in many instances discontinuance of such programs due to low enrollment of children.

The proposed Adolescent Parenting programs, as those that are already existent, would be overseen by adults, of course, and the participating infants and toddlers would be taught skills (via trained students as well as instructors) that are appropriate for their age groups and/or such as they are capable of learning at earliest.

Adolescent parenting programs should avail credit and potentially certificates and/or degrees to students who are interested in early childhood careers and may participate in dual enrollment programs.

Generally Lowering the Early Childhood Compulsory School Age or Making Earlier Learning Available to All Children without Compulsion

In light of heightened expectations for pre-k students, and in light of demonstration of the fact that children much younger than traditional kindergarten age are capable of learning material that most students customarily learn in kindergarten, earlier education opportunities should be available to all children, but many parents simply cannot afford and/or may not qualify for childcare/educational programs via the Department of Human Services due to certain restrictions or limitations.

Lowering the early childhood compulsory school age or making early learning available to all children, regardless of a parent’s income or lack of it, or making before pre-k earlier learning opportunities available on an income-contingent basis would resolve this issue.

Public School Management of Childcare Facilities

All childcare facilities should be managed or overseen by local school districts to assure that they meet early childhood academic standards, and to assure likewise that children, pre-k or head start and younger, are following a uniform curriculum that would be designed to help children from infancy forward learn all that they’re capable of learning at each stage of development. Children would be taught to read as early as demonstrably possible.

Owners of childcare facilities would be required to purchase any necessary instructional material and supplies, and to assure that necessary requirements are met.

Childcare facilities would help to assure that early learning opportunities are available to all students who’d benefit from lowering the early childhood compulsory school age or making earlier learning available to all children without compulsion by providing supplemental space to accommodate the increase in enrolled participants. All before pre-k or head start earlier learning opportunities should be income-contingent, where there are costs, which should never be a barrier to education for anyone, whether it’s early or higher learning.

The proposed would also help to stabilize the workforce and economy in that a vast sect of individuals who are unemployed due to childcare-related issues, or not earning enough to pay for childcare, would be capable of maintaining employment, and accordingly paying income taxes, healthcare, and other costs that the government would ordinarily pay via public assistance programs. Employed benefactors of such an initiative would also be better subscribers to our consumer markets.

Such an initiative would additionally reduce episodes of child endangerment and loss of custody where parents are forced to leave their children home unattended or with unsafe sitters so that they can work, noting that states ultimately pay more for foster care of children than they would to offer childcare assistance to working parents who cannot afford it.

Though such an initiative would hinge primarily upon earlier education, it would also provide assistance for after school and/or 24 hour care where participants are enrolled in childcare facilities that offer the service.

*Educational (Racial) Reparations

Racial reparations is a concept that has long been a focus of debate, although no viable plans of implementation have been articulated or agreed upon. Here I offer a workable plan that would wholly address the issue of cultural injury to African Americans, and such as would be a model for reparations to other disenfranchised minorities, a plan that would recompense and mend social injury all on the token of bolstering the economy.

Background

During antebellum slavery, African Americans were forbidden to read and write; in some places literacy was forbidden to even free Blacks. No one—Whites included—could lawfully teach a slave to read and write or give a slave a book, not excluding a Bible. Blacks were further subjected to substandard education during the Jim Crow era and face disparate treatment [3] to this day when pursuing higher education at particularly predominantly White colleges and universities. African Americans are more likely than Whites to be part-time [4] students, to need financial assistance (which has been severely cut since the 1980’s), and to drop out of school altogether.

Seeing that cultural injury to African Americans can be traced back to educational deprivation, racial reparations should hinge significantly on education.

Educational reparations for all African American and other students who are demonstrably descended from American slaves would entail student loan forgiveness, reduced tuition, and/or reparative credit for determined amounts up to full tuition for four years or for 120 credit hours minus awarded Pell and/or other non-repayable grants.

Students receiving education reparations would be strongly encouraged to attend state funded colleges or universities, as they are less expensive than private colleges and/or universities and are more racially diverse.

Ancestral Searches for the Purpose of Determining Reparative Eligibility

Students would be capable of performing ancestral searches, optionally free of charge or at reduced student rates, for the purpose of establishing eligibility for reparative credit, loan forgiveness, or reduced tuition at internet sites as may be endorsed by their specific schools and/or they may perform independent searches at other sites and/or at public libraries (Ancestral searches would also help to reduce episodes of children born with birth defects due to incestuous relationships).

Reparative Small Business Awards

Reparative small business awards would be available as an alternative or in addition to educational reparations to qualifying candidates with existing businesses or who submit viable business plans with applications to the Reparations division of the Small Business Administration or other relevant agencies, and who have completed relevant educational programs and obtained necessary licensing, where applicable. Dual (education & business) awards would be granted to those with residual funds from either an educational or business award source.

Reparative Refunds

Reparative refunds would be awarded to candidates with residual funds after completion of an educational program and/or after disbursement or in lieu of a business award (Collegiate retention specialists should be staffed at all colleges [and schools generally] to help address any issues that may hamper student attendance and program completion).

Reparative Monetary Awards for Senior Citizens and Disabled Candidates

Reparative monetary awards would be granted to senior citizens and/or disabled qualifying candidates. These awards would generally be disbursed in increments, i.e. increases in monthly SSI or other government payments, though lump sum amounts would be awarded to candidates who are homeowners and owe balances on their homes that would be inherited by family members (such amounts would be paid directly to the relevant mortgage realtors or banks). Senior and disabled candidates would receive a modest lump sum that would not disqualify them for other government income that they’d already be receiving.

Debt Garnishment

Appropriate amounts of reparative awards would be garnished from awardees with delinquent outstanding debt as disclosed by credit reporting agencies, the Internal Revenue Service, child support services, traffic violations bureaus, etc. The proposed would help to mend negative credit and child support and/or other traffic violations issues that may have resulted in loss of driving and/or other privileges, and prevent tax liens and other synonymous legal remedies.

Conclusion

Reparations would be great for the economy in that award requirements would empower recipients for good/great paying jobs, and reparative small business awards would help to create jobs. Additionally, creditors would be paid in massive proportions; and both awardees and creditors would be appropriately taxed. Awardees would as well be equipped with greater buying power, which would be great for business.

[1] This would alleviate some of the demand on organizations such as the Salvation Army and others that pay utilities for the economically disadvantaged.

[2] Clothing disbursements could be made in the form of shopping vouchers to any sponsoring stores and/or to partnering thrift stores, i.e. Value Village in Atlanta (Metropolitan Parkway), Goodwill… Discount Stores, etc.

[3] Historically Black colleges and universities are purported in some wise to shield African Americans students from hostilities as they may experience at predominantly White colleges. Yet, HBCUs tend to be more expensive than state funded colleges and universities, landing students attending them in greater debt. Notwithstanding, African American and all students should be treated with the same level of decency at any and all schools.

[4] Part-time enrollment translates to more costs in the long-haul, as with extended attendance.

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