Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How the Koch Brothers Could Transform American Education - by Gary North

I share something with all four Koch brothers: prostate cancer. They have survived for over 20 years. I hope to as well.

Charles Koch is interested in free market education. He has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into free market organizational oases located on Keynesian/Democrat university campuses. These campuses remain Keynesian/Democrat.

What if he could teach a million high school students Austrian economics every year . . . permanently? Or two million? All over the world?
Meanwhile, over the last dozen years, Salman Khan has created the most successful educational program in history. He did it with no money initially. Using free YouTube videos, he created a K-12 math program. The curriculum is free.

Charles Koch is going to donate $400 million to politics between now and November.
This money will not change the direction of politics. The outcome will be determined by the state of the economy. If there is a recession between now and November, the Democrats will take the Senate and maybe the House. If there is a recession in 2020, the Democrats will take both houses of Congress and the White House, and will keep them for a decade or more. Koch's money not will change this.
He is 81 years old. His personal clock is ticking.

If he would allocate two to three million dollars for hiring libertarian teachers who have the ability to teach K-12 students, he could establish a launching pad to replace Khan Academy with a systematically libertarian online program.
It might cost $500,000 to edit and post 10,000 video-based lessons. It cost the Ron Paul Curriculum nothing. The instructors did their own video productions with under $500 worth of equipment per instructor. You can see the results here.

If he would then spend $100 million in marketing, he could match Khan. Maybe. Khan supposedly has 100 million students.
Online resources cover preschool through early college education, including math, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, finance, history and grammar. Khan Academy offers free personalized SAT test prep in partnership with the test developer, the College Board. Khan Academy has been translated into dozens of languages, and 100 million people use the platform worldwide every year.

Does the Khan Academy reaslly have that many students? That seems too high. But I know this: it has more than any other school in history.
Bill Gates' foundation gave him a few million dollars after it was up and running. So did other rich men. But this is chump change for the super-rich.
Charles Koch's thinking was shaped by Robert Lefevre, who ran the tiny Freedom School in Colorado 60 years ago. He has experienced first-hand what a dedicated, charismatic teacher can achieve in a non-accredited program that operates outside of academia.

I put together the Ron Paul Curriculum with under $5,000 upfront money. The RPC offered royalties instead of cash payments. It has about 10,000 lessons, just as the Khan Academy does. That was my target number. It took four years, 2013-17. Koch could duplicate it in 12 months with $2 million. The faculty is in his home town: the Wichita Collegiate School. It was founded by my friend Bob Love in 1963. He was on the board of the Foundation for Economic Education. It is a first-rate school. Koch could hire them on a one-time basis for $200 per lesson for 10,000 lessons. They could reproduce their classroom lectures on weekends and over the summer. That would cost $2 million. If he had to pay $300 or $400 per lesson, so what?

Would I like to see him do this? Yes. I want to see students leave the public schools. As far as I'm concerned, free market competition is positive. Even if Koch's program would reduce the number of RPC's students, I would favor it. But I don't think it would hurt the RPC at all. It would help it by legitimizing online education.

I think he is missing the boat. He would get enormous bang for the buck by funding an online curriculum.
If he won't do it, brother David has at least $50 billion.
If David won't do it, brother William could. He is worth at least $1.7 billion. But I don't know what his economic views are.

Khan attended MIT. So did Charles Koch, David Koch, and David's twin brother William. So did their father. Why should the brothers forfeit the world's K-12 online educational contest to a late-arrival MIT grad?
This seems like a slam dunk.