Saturday, March 28, 2015

Profits in public education

Some defenders of Oklahoma's monopoly school system don't like public charter schools, and they really don't like (trigger warning!) "for-profit" charter schools. Something about the Koch brothers dispatching their evil minions to an ALEC meeting to club baby seals and privatize education for rapacious gain. In reality, however, only 10 to 15 percent of charter schools nationwide hire a for-profit entity to manage certain aspects of the school. The number is even lower in Oklahoma. (Which is a pity, because profits are a good thing.)

Fed up with these "nobody should make a profit from public education" sentiments, Dr. Terry Stoops at the John Locke Foundation decided to put together a partial list of those who make a profit from public education:
  1. Computer companies – all schools have computers, hand-held devices, and other hardware in them
  2. Software companies – those computers have software on them
  3. Furniture companies – kids gotta sit on something and write on something else
  4. School bus companies – until someone invents the Transporter, we’ll have to use buses
  5. Textbook companies – the Gideons have no school textbook equivalent
  6. School supply companies – pencils! pens! reams of paper! chemistry equipment!
  7. Instructional technology companies – those video and audio systems, e.g., Smart Boards, are not free
  8. Television companies – many classrooms come equipped with a TV (and sometimes a DVD player too)
  9. Landowners, Realtors, construction companies, contractors, and suppliers – building and maintaining schools requires working with (gasp!) for-profit businesses
  10. Food and beverage suppliers – think school lunches, vending machines, and snack bars
  11. Copier companies – copiers are teachers’ best friend or worst nightmare
  12. Athletic equipment – for physical education
  13. Musical instruments – for music education
  14. Art supplies – for art education
  15. Energy companies – many things run on electricity these days
Doubtless there are others, but you get the point. And I haven't even mentioned the one-percenter who's paid a third of a million dollars to preside over the woeful Tulsa school district. Talk about for-profit management!

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