Home > Uncategorized > Libertarian Reformers Have a Plan for Urban Education: Replace Elected School Boards with an Invisible Hand

Libertarian Reformers Have a Plan for Urban Education: Replace Elected School Boards with an Invisible Hand

August 25, 2018

Diane Ravitch has featured three posts in recent days describing the plans of hedge funders Reed Hastings and John Arnold to take over urban education in the coming 6-10 years. Mr. Hastings, who has long opposed the inefficient operation and oversight of schools governed by elected boards, and John Arnold, who believes individuals and not employers or the government should control pensions, are peas in a pod. They both have unyielding faith in the ability of the invisible hand of the marketplace to winnow out winners and losers and both believe any government interference in the marketplace dilutes its ability to do so. And how do they intend to identify “winners and losers” in this case? While their plan assumes that standardized test scores will be the metric, it’s possible— no, make that probable— that returns on investment will determine success. Why? Because the governing bodies of these new “portfolio schools” Hastings and Arnold envision will be governed by profit seekers who will ultimately be driven by their returns on investment and not on test scores. In the end, if an enterprise fails to provide educational results it won’t matter. ECOT in Ohio, for example, has been hugely unsuccessful for children who enrolled in the “school” if test scores are the metric. The investors, though, are very happy with the product even tough it ultimately failed to deliver on its purported mission.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with all privatization schemes: their accomplishment of public goals matters far less to investors than their profits. And to compound matters in the case of public eduction, their public goal, to lift standardized test schools, it a fools errand to begin with. To paraphrase Pete Seegar:

Where have all the schoolyards gone?

Gone to investors everyone!

Where will the children learn?

Where will the children learn?

 

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