American Education: Fix Public Schools or Go Private?

Private School is the Way

By Shamus Fisk

What if we completely privatized the educational system? What would happen? Would it be better or worse to the American public? There would be no more bureaucracy controlling educational departments across the country and no more lagging progression and unproductive spending due to politics. What if, instead, private institutions became responsible for progress and productive budgeting of education throughout the country?

Theoretically, according to elementary free market economics, competition would push private institutions to create highly successful and highly educated students at an affordable tuition. Of course, this would not be an instantaneous process, but would be considered a minutiae span of time compared to the dredging giant of the educational system today. Efficiency and progress compromise the key factors that would push privatized institutions to the cutting edge of education. As with any market in our economy, as long as the government does their job breaking apart any monopolies that occur, competition within should grow and prosper. Education then improves to an entirely new level within our society.

Free market students would pick and choose the schools that fit their needs and wants, instead of the one size fits all curriculum that the current educational system tries to instill. Teachers would be given decent living wages due to competition between companies. Companies will push for more advanced methodologies of education with the most experienced teachers at the forefront of the curriculum. The end result would be highly educated free minded students directed by teachers who are given the motivation to care for each and every student.

Reform Public Schools

By Tayler Houston

The American education system houses many flaws, but dismissing the whole institution would be a vast overreaction. The government’s job is to make life easier and better for American citizens. Abolishing the public education system seems to be the exact opposite of this goal. I find it impossible to imagine a scenario where the government abandoning education leads to better outcomes for students. The government needs to reform education, but it must stay involved. The federal government possesses the power to ensure a basic level of equality in school systems. No private institution holds enough power

I see three basic changes the federal government needs to make to drastically help education. First, the federal government must transition to an oversight role rather than a leading role. The states need most of the policy power to do what works for them. The federal government simply needs to ensure basic standards are met nationwide. Next, the focus of education must change. The current obsession with standardized testing fails students. It teaches students how to test but not how to truly learn. What good is brilliant test taking at a job? The ability to critically think and adapt to problems is much more important. Education policy should focus on these attributes.

Finally, every state needs to emulate the Tennessee Promise program and give students two free years of post-secondary education. The only way to progress as a people is to further the education level of all citizens instead of a select few. The Promise program should make two years of college or career training the new minimum standard of education instead of the current high school diploma standard. This is the way nations develop and progress.

The Problem with Reform

By Shamus Fisk

With the full privatization of the educational sector of the United States, the government would retain an overhead role in the development of these privatized institutions. Although, the main objective would be stopping monopolies from occurring. Tayler’s proposed “drastic changes” would  would take decades to completely implement into the school systems nationwide and grow the system even more. Tayler talks about preparing students for jobs, jobs that very much are enthralled in the corporate world. The corporate world is entirely based on what is the most proficient and precise for business. Would we not want those same individuals to give first-hand knowledge to our nationwide student body?

To add to the Tennessee Promise suggestion, it is entirely based on the funding of the state lottery. A source of revenue not all states may be willing to use for education. However, I do believe this would be the way to go for states intending to provide free college as it does not increase people’s tax budgets as lottery tickets are an elective purchase.

Finally, a student should not be looked at how well educated he/she may be by the number of years attended. Rather, was the education given to the student adequate for allowing the individual to become successful within our society and thrive as a free thinking adult? School should teach, rather than be a massive babysitting institution for the students until adulthood. Why must it be 18? Is every single thing we learn in the current educational system really beneficial to our futures ?Is it just classes to pass the time until adulthood?

Issues with Privatization

By Tayler Houston

Privatizing the American education constitutes a disaster for all but the richest of Americans. Shamus assumes that competition would lower tuition and create better schools. If that occurred, of course his argument wins! However, education corporations would be competing to make the most money. This cannot be forgotten, and Shamus glosses over this fact. There is no incentive for companies to engage in the type of humanitarian aims and improvement Shamus advocates. Low tuition probably occurs in this scenario to attract students, but low tuition comes at a price. The private schools would cut expenditures down to the bare minimum to maximize profit. Sadly, this is just a business fact and would happen at the expense of education.

Wealthy Americans would pay high tuitions and go to very nice schools with better outcomes. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It is exactly what occurs now in America. The true change effects the lower classes. They would be forced to choose the cheapest school options because they cannot afford anything else. Now, some of you are taking the Betsy Devos approach out there and screaming vouchers! First, you know what is simpler than giving kids a $5,000 voucher to pay for private school? Sending them to a free public school! Second, there is absolutely nothing stopping schools from raising prices after vouchers are issued to gain more profit. Once again, basic business principles reveal flaws in privatization.

Both sides of the political aisle agree inequality needs to be curbed in America. Huge welfare programs are not the answer. They are money pits that alleviate symptoms rather than addressing root causes. Education is the long term solution and the great equalizer. Reforming public schools creates a level playing field for all Americans and allows talent and desire to determine life outcomes.

 

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