Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is Education Incompatible With Business?

Following up on my exchange with a correspondent regarding my recent LTE on tax credits, Lowie wrote, quoting me:

Lowie July 13, 2012 at 11:46AM
   Quote: "The public schools should deal with their excess overhead just as any private business would when faced with a loss of sales to a competitor."
   I worked in the private sector for twenty years before becoming a teacher, so I genuinely do recognize and appreciate how and why the fields of business and education differ. They are not interchangeable. It will be a dark day in America when a teacher views his role as that of a profit-generator and the education of each child as a "sale" to be made.
My response:

July 27, 2012 at 5:04PM
Why? Are quality cars more important than quality education? Profit is the reward for successfully producing a value that satisfies willing customers. How is education different than any other field of productive work? Why should it be?
Whether you choose to acknowledge the fact or not, a professional teacher is selling his services for payment—his salary. In the public sector, his salary is paid with money taken by force from taxpayers. In the private sector, the money is paid voluntarily by customers who willingly choose his (or his school’s) services. Private business depends on freedom of contract and voluntary trade. Government schools are held in place solely by force.
Government education differs from business, alright. The moral distinction could not be more black and white.
Considering the importance of a proper education, I can think of few things morally nobler than making a profit selling educational services. Why does the prospect of voluntary market exchange scare you? Don’t you think that parents would willingly pay for your services, and willingly send their children to your school?
It may be a dark day for the government education establishment when the business of education is profit-driven and privately owned. But it will be a glorious day for the most competent educators, concerned parents, and the children—i.e., for America. 

Related Reading:

Education Tax Credits vs. Government Subsidies

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