Writing over at U.S. News & World Report, American Enterprise Institute fellow Ian Lindquist tackles the fallacious argument that "for-profit schools harbor a motive that makes them incapable of educating children—namely, a profit motive."
Adults who aim to make money cannot have children’s best interests at heart because they will look for opportunities to cut costs in an effort to pay shareholders rather than direct all available funds toward children’s education. The conflict of interest created by this profit motive renders for-profit schools incompatible with public education.
This is nonsense. Education is not the only sector that provides public goods. Indeed, there are many public goods handled by private companies: hospitals, prisons, and transportation systems operated by for-profit providers ensure public health, public safety, and public transportation. In none of those cases does profit motive necessarily dispose the company to abdicate its mission of serving the public. In these cases, companies’ ability to provide the best product possible is aligned with their ability to make money and pay their shareholders. Far from giving up their social missions to seek profit, they need to serve the public both to accomplish that mission and gain profit. Without mission, no profit. The mission is and must be primary.
The circumstances in the education sector do not nullify this logic. If an education company has a mission to provide excellent schooling for students, then it either fulfills its mission or it doesn’t. If it does, then it is a worthy contractor and its charter should be renewed; if it does not, then its charter should be revoked.
Read the whole thing here.