Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Plea for the Public School, Part 2

Adams Elementary School
Enid, Oklahoma,
which my mom, brothers, and I attended
A week or so ago I posted: "The profit motive is a terrible, destructive idea for human-service enterprises--like health-care and education. More below ...

These posts are dealing with my fundamental belief--that we must substantially infuse our public schools with money and curricular reform and bright, caring people. Across the country today, many parents are moving toward enrolling their children in charter schools, online schools; many prefer private education, voucher plans, and the like to the traditional public school. And in many cases, some/most/all of the funds (for charters, online schools) come from the public schools.

We know that the profit motive is good for some things. It has in some ways propelled the improvements in technology that we all enjoy, the clothing we wear, the dwellings we live in, many of the products we use, and so on. Companies like Apple and Microsoft compete for our business; we can benefit from that competition (in ways).

But I'm arguing here that using this motive in human-service enterprises is a horrible idea. We all know the case of Martin Shkreli, who, acquiring the rights to a medical drug, promptly doubled its price ... bad, eh? Actually, he raised the price by a factor of fifty-eight! Social media and the press excoriated him; his smirk became as well-known as Trump's pursed lips.

Unfortunately, we viewed him as an exception rather than as a rule. Drug companies want to make money--lots of it. And hospitals and med centers? Our son and his family live in Green, Ohio, and within a mile or two of their house are two enormous med centers operated by competitors, Summa Health and Cleveland Clinic/Akron General. The costs of building, staffing, equipping, maintaining those facilities are staggering--and unnecessary. And guess where those funds come from? (If you guessed "our medical bills," you get a smiley-sticker on your homework.)

We know that these facilities are staffed, in most cases, by caring, professional people. But the redundancy--the unnecessary redundancy is so costly. And, of course, there are so many places in the country where there are no such facilities at all. Green, Ohio, gets two; other places get zero.

Health insurance is another instance, isn't it? Because it's for-profit, there is pressure to make money--even if that means that the companies have monetary reasons (big ones) to give you a hard time about your claims. And, of course, your costs are higher because not everyone is contributing to the pool. (Not everyone can, of course.) Some sorts of insurance require participation--auto, home. The mandate in Obamacare's guidelines has been controversial, but unless everyone's in, then costs cannot be reasonable. Everyone is in auto and homeowner's insurance, so the costs (though annoying) are much better than they otherwise would be.

Okay. What about schools?

I hate to see what's going on now--the profit motive rearing its gorgon head in public education. You can easily Google and find some egregious cases of for-profit schools (online and otherwise) extracting profits at the cost of quality in the classroom. Lying about their enrollment. And accomplishments.

(Of course, there are awful things going on in some public schools, too--but they are not encouraged by the juicy carrot of $$$.)

I understand why this is happening--why some parents are turning away from the public schools. Some of them (the schools) are horrible. Out of control. So severely underfunded that the buildings are imploding, the textbooks are mildewing, and many of the youngsters are afraid to attend. Classes are huge. Teachers are overworked and stressed. Everyone seems to be suffering from a terminal case of Standardized Test Mania. These are not small matters. They require immediate--and substantial--attention.

So ... what do we do about it? Stay tuned ... more later ...

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