This is probably a restatement of a variety of things that would, in my view, be good national policy regarding education. I recognise that this is blue-sky, in that implementing much of this would be a long uphill struggle.
We recognise that education in a nation fills three primary roles:
- It provides skills that are directly useful for employment or provide a practical/theoretical background for later-acquired skills that are directly job-worthwhile
- It provides intellectual context needed to understand politics and institutions in society
- It is directly a public good in that it makes it possible for people to think bigger thoughts, understanding the universe, the human condition, and many other not-directly-life-or-society-related things
- Provide, as evenly as possible across regions and income levels, an excellent primary education (as evaluated in terms of the roles above)
- Provide, as evenly as possible across regions and income levels, access to university-level education, structured and supplemented so that finances should never be a reason someone would avoid going to university
- Provide structure, incentives, and an expectation that adults will return to university several times over their adult lives for dedicated study. This serves to keep job skills current, encourage intellectual stimulation, and continue social mixing
Attendance at secular schools is mandatory until age of majority, with private schooling being optonal on a supplemental basis; however, it will be permitted to replace one day of public schooling per week with two days of private schools (if regional school districts choose to permit this). The school week is set at five days a week per chold; school districts may choose either to place all students on the same five days or stagger presence in the schools in some way. Districts may also stagger by hours and seasons, although any such staggering should take place with the best interests of the students (social, learning, and convenience) in mind.
Exceptions to school requirements and special structures may be permitted for particularly low-performing or high-performing students, or for students with unusual needs/interests/life habits, on an as-needed basis, provided those do not amount to special privileges for religious or cultural communities.
Primary schooling is to be funded at a level where teachers are present in sufficient numbers to have small, participatory classrooms and funded at rates so total compensation is at or above competitive market salary and sufficient for comfortable living in the school district being serviced; the compensation and role of the teacher is to be an esteemed member of the community, not a minor functionary. The funds for primary schooling should generally be collected and allocated evenly on a national level, although wealthy (or more expensive) regions will automatically pay from local taxes differences in costs of living and land, as determined by appropriate formulae.
University-level schooling should be funded through the general tax burden during the initial education (which should be structured to last 4-5 years). As many Universities already are private, and as there is a societal interest in not forcing Universities into excessive dependence on the state, secular private Universities that are accredited should continue to exist, but they are required to remain accredited to accept students and are required (by necessity) to find sources of funds to handle their costs for students above the (covered) regional average. Additionally, the general tax burden shall provide a regionally appropriate stipend sufficient for living for full-time students.
Graduate-level schooling (including law and medical school) will follow the game general patterns of university-level schooling; it will be funded through the general tax burden, with a living stipend suitable for a student. The number of slots available and allocation of those slots into fields, regions, and schools, is limited and considered a problem deferred for later consideration. Just like with other kinds of schooling, the system shall be designed so that a single, responsible student should emerge from the system, not having had a work obligation, with zero debt.
Every 5-10 years, adults should be entitled and expected to return to University for six months, their most recent place of employment providing half-stipend for that time, the general tax burden providing half of a student stipend as well (these halves will not normally be equal). This place of employment may not require they take any particular classes. These classes should not be segregated from the general student body.
New religiously-affiliated universities may not be accredited, and while existing religiously-affiliated universities may retain their accreditation, should they go for two years without accreditation they will lose their grandfathering status.
The design of this system being generous, it is reasonable that the system should also have mechanisms to ensure that neither education tourism nor asymmetric post-education-flight take place. Mechanisms suitable to ensure reasonable reciprocity with other nations with similar systems and incur residency/work obligations for those that partake of the systems as opposed to leaving for countries without similar systems may be imposed; those either not from an area covered by this system or not intending to remain with it (and share the tax burden) may be required to pay some or all of the total cost upfront.