Real education reform should include putting parents in charge of their kids' education. Instead of earmarking more money for underperforming schools -- with the likelihood of seeing no return in student outcomes -- the Richmond County school board instead should give parents hope. That hope should be offered by taking the $6 million and offering one-third of the school's least fortunate students a $7,500 scholarship each -- enough to cover tuition at most private schools in the Augusta area. That is far cheaper than the $8,775 that the school system spent per student in 2009.
The competition not only would give the children who obtain scholarships a shot at a better education now, it also would encourage teachers and principals to embrace innovation to turn around their schools.
Just as McDonald's competes with Wendy's and Publix competes with Kroger, so too would these public schools compete to do a better job to keep their customers -- students.
(The writer is director of the nonprofit Center for an Educated Georgia.)