This proposal, put forth by a veteran high school English teacher, is a bad idea in so many ways:
With states across the country facing huge budget deficits and potential devastating cuts to services, the time has come to start charging parents tuition for their children's public school education.
If parents of the 47 million students in the United States who attend kindergarten through 12th grade were billed $360 per child per year — that's $2 a day for each of the 180 days of instruction — nearly $17 billion would be generated.
[. . .]
While a free education for all is a wonderful gift, it's simply not possible anymore.
But a "free" public education isn't just a "wonderful gift." It's been integral to the way Americans think about the republic. And adding fees on top of the tax money already going to schools means education does not quite equate to other things that cost that once were free (such as TV) the way the author claims it does. And community colleges that once charged no tuition and now do have never been considered part of the free-education contract by most people.
The other significant problem is that the writer buys into the thoroughly disreputable notion that all we have to do to fix education is spend more money. We keep spending more and more and getting less and less, and the answer is always, "well just spend even more." Nearly $600 billion a year already goes into public education -- $17 billion more is going to make a big difference? Per-pupil spending ranges from $5,683 a year in Utah to $15,981 in New York. The nationwide average is around $9,600. What is $360 more a year going to add that would be worth the betrayal felt by parents who already, as the author notes, nickled and dimed to death by schools that are supposedly free.
One likely outcome, which the writer probably would not really like, would be to drive many parents from public to private education. If you have to pay fees either way, might as well go where there's a better chance of a good education.