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Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Success of the Public School System

The Public School system in the Untited States, as overseen by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, is a big business--a very successful business, I propose.

Now, in any unregulated industry, only the successful businesses survive. Others go under. Granted, public eduction is a heavily regulated industry, but it thrives nonetheless, even in the face of serious competition. Why have public schools survived? It is because they are so good at what they do.

What do public schools do? Well, whether they are crime-ridden inner-city structures or posh suburban campuses, all public schools do one thing, and they do it well:

They pay teachers a lot of money.

A few years ago, the taxpayers of Kalkaska, Michigan, tried to change this. They cut funding to the school system so severely that all the students were dismissed and the schools for all intents and purposes shut down.

The Teachers, however, continued to get paid. Thus the school, even while closed, succeeded in its primary mission: To pay teachers a lot of money.

This is not the story you will get from the AFT. According to their website,

"Teachers, especially new ones, are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing in their communities and to pay off student loan debts. These and other factors place the teaching profession—already plagued by high turnover and recruiting challenges—in further peril, according to the latest AFT teacher salary survey. The AFT teacher salary survey for the 2004-05 school year found that the average teacher salary was $47,602, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The report asserts that, to make teacher pay competitive with pay in other professions by the end of the decade, teachers need a 30 percent raise—an additional investment in our children’s future of almost $15 billion per year. The 2005 salary survey also examines the impact of rising housing costs and student loan debt on teachers in the 50 largest cities."

Now, it may surprise my readers, but I am all in favor of teachers getting paid $30 or $40 an hour. In fact, I have some educational needs in my family for which I would be willing to put up such a sum myself.

I, however, take no joy in paying such sums for the supposed education of other men's children. And I forsee the day in which the Public School System will loose its monopoly on education, and be forced out of business because competent teachers will be able to earn more money in the private sector, and parents will be unwilling to continue turning their children over to substandard teachers when other options become available.

Why do I foresee the demise of the Public Schools?

Because they have a Flawed Business Plan. Paying teachers a lot of money is no way to build a business, as long as it is tied to the level of their perceived needs rather than to the level of their contribution to the education of children.


  1. Some years ago I heard an NPR broadcast, a recording of a talk given to the National Press Club. The gentleman who gave the talk relayed his experience traveling the world talking with educators.
    He would ask “who has the best primary education?” Invariably, the educator would say their own country, Japan, or Germany. When he would ask “What about the USA?” they would respond with a “no”.
    But when he would ask the same educators about colleges, almost universally these educators would name the U.S. as having the best colleges.
    How can one country have among the worst reputation among the industrialized world for primary education? But yet have the best for secondary?
    We have one system for primary education, but many systems for secondary education; religious, secular, private, government (state colleges), as well as military.
    The speaker ultimately drew the conclusion that competition was the differentiating factor.

  2. Great post and first comment. I wonder how the unions and those against school choice would argue against the success of public universities.


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