Please Lend Your Voice to an Upcoming Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Would you like to hear your voice on a future Freakonomics Radio episode? Hope so! Here are the details:

We recently put out a two-part episode on education reform, the first on teacher skill and the second on a community-based project called Pathways to Education. The response from listeners was huge — and, often, very opinionated. It seems as though everyone had a concrete idea for the one thing that would really improve our education system.

So we’ve decided to make an episode about … what you think is the one thing that would really improve our education system. If all goes well, the episode will be made up primarily of listeners’ voices — that is, your voice.

We want you to answer the following question:

If you had to pick one thing to change about the education system where you live, what would it be? and why?

We want you to record your answer on your iPhone, Android phone (or other recording device), and e-mail us the file at Along with your answer to the question, please include your name, where you live, and what you do — student, parent, teacher, school administrator, taxpayer, etc.

If there’s anything you don’t understand or if you need more info, let us know in the comments section below. Thanks!




Is this just for the US or is it internationally as well?

Stephen J. Dubner


Zack Cyphers

Hey Dubner and Levitt!

I'm an AP Language teacher in an American high school in Bitburg, Germany. My students are currently tackling a unit on education! I'm going to guide them all through the process of recording responses for you. Hopefully we'll be able to send you most of their voices. You'll have tons of podcast fodder from the people who really matter in education - students!

Stephen J. Dubner

That is beyond great -- thanks!


Holla Mr. Cyphers Class!

Renan Greca

Is it specifically for grade school or does college education count?

Stephen J. Dubner

Any and all.


Our info (name, where we live, what we do, etc...), you want that right in the recording?

Stephen J. Dubner



Hi Steve!

How long would you like the recording to be? A minute, two or longer?

Stephen J. Dubner

Yes, a minute or two would be great.

Kitty Harmon

I would switch start times for elementary schools with middle and high schools. Adolescents have different body clocks. They should start school no earlier than 9, in my opinion. There is so much research on this, all showing benefits to later start times. And the benefits are greater for low-income kids. It would be the least costly change with considerable, measurable results.

bob nixon

As much as I love you guys I cringe every time I hear you're going to do a show on education. You are always looking for the magic bullet, the one single thing that will solve all the problems with education.

If I'm teaching a 9th grade math class with 30 students I will likely have 30 different problems right there. Not one. Thirty. And that's just one class.

In that class a kid could be nodding off because he has three part-time jobs because both his parents have been laid off. Another kid would be ok if she would just not go off her meds. Another kid could be justifiably be not taking it all in because he's focussed on his upcoming deportation. Stoned kids, you bet. Kids who have been passed along but don't have the basics for this level math, consequently are doomed to failure and act up as a result, lots of those. And this just barely scratches the surface.

There is no one solution.

That said I will tell you something that would go a long way toward making things better - not solve everything, just make things better. A bottom up approach to promotion.

One of the big problems with education is there is no leadership. There is 'followership'. In order to get ahead you have to kowtow to whoever is responsible for your promotion. As a result you get the same old, same old people in charge in perpetuity. Like The Who said, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Teachers aren't stupid people. You don't successfully complete six years of education if you're stupid. The one thing a teacher dislikes most? A bad teacher. The reason being is that good teachers have to pick up the slack from bad teachers. Good teachers have to teach the class right after a bad teacher has had them.

So bottom up. Teachers pick their department heads. Department heads pick the assistant principals and the principal and so on. With this approach the focus won't be on getting ahead or getting through the day, it will be where it should be, on the classroom and how to make that classroom experience better.

Then maybe in thirty years we won't be rehashing the same problems with education that we've been talking about for the previous thirty.



I would like our public education system to mandate a basic economics curriculum… Roll it into ‘civics’ or ‘social studies.’ I think everyone should learn basic micro, macro, correlation vs. causation

Far too many voters misunderstand the basics of government. Students should learn about the concept of public goods and natural monopolies. They should also learn about the fallacy of correlation vs causation. Far too many laborers misunderstand inflation (psst… Most of you are getting a REAL pay cut every year as a reward for your continued experience and dedication. Don’t forget to say “Thanks!” for your next 2¢ raise!).

P.S. Ditto Bob Nixon’s call for democratic leadership.


Introduce competitive learning in all areas. Where I live there is a huge epidemic of Tall Poppy Syndrome. I have been at school in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and have never been 'taught' or 'encouraged' to underachieve as much as in Australia.
No push for the smart. The old donkey analogy of carrot vs stick is a clear example that the 'stick' does not allow the brighter or hard working students to excel.
So, I would ensure a 'carrot' system is implemented that encourages school children to excel and provides 'vouchers' as sa reward. Things that the children can use and are not viewed by the masses as 'dorky'.

Jodie S.

Not going to solve all of the problems in our education system, but if I could make one improvement I would eliminate the practice of granting tenure to any educator.

Chloe Marie

Hello! What is the cut-off date for this? I am a highschool Economics teacher in Dubai. I would love to submit something.


Chloe Marie


(Darn, now I'll be moderated. How did that happen? Repost:)

The major influence of scholastic publishers, many in Texas, in flogging new editions to prosperous counties, with appalling price points keeping lower income schools in old texts. The existence of abstinence-only sex education in general. Overcrowding and the increasing divorce of police departments funds and other civic money makers from school funding, the whole reason “quotas” were tacitly implemented. The latter has brutalized my area, and the transient and increasingly semi-libertarian populace consistently votes against budget increases that used to be automatic and not subject to public referendum.

The lack of comprehensive pre-K disproportionately impacts poor women, who have to turn down work during a time early intervention could truly impact their children's lives. Members of school boards should be required to keep their children in the district they represent. Finally (?, no never) the explosion of middle management and administrative positions - particularly in the university world - must be curbed.



When is the deadline to submit one's recording?


Has this podcast been broadcast yet?