Cate Stuart, Period AM, Honorbound
According to Charles Wheelan1, the largest government monopoly still operating in the U.S. is public education. Why is this monopoly problematic? It would not be – if it weren’t for the effects caused by government-run monopolies.
First, public schools (even more so – their teachers) lose any benefits of competition, making the education quality worse off. Although one could claim that competition stems from private schools, these private schools in no way encourage the government to improve their public schools.2 Therefore, this lack of competition results in no motivation for improvement in teaching, learning, or school environment. Ever wondered why public schools seem to have a shortage of teachers, a surplus of students, and unkempt buildings? Those would be caused by the over-regulation of requirements of who can teach, the ever-growing number of students needing education, and the scarce money being allocated to other government matters.3
In addition, simply because the government runs the public education monopoly does not mean that the government must do the work. Government teachers? Nonexistent. Government janitors? Not in public schools. The employees in public schools come from the same place as employees in private schools – college. Why does this matter? The same reason one does not ask her best friend to do her “dirty work.” The government does not have to put in the effort; rather, they only have to plan and finance. Therefore, aside from visiting the schools once a year, the government does not know what is happening inside the school’s walls, and therefore they cannot adequately help.1
Thus, how can we solve this dilemma?
Many argue for all children to attend private schools. In theory, this suggestion sounds great. However, as the tuition to these schools increases, the opportunity to attend private school is snatched away from most. For this same reason, education should not become a solely privatized business. If it were, schools would likely compete so much that prices would rise until student loans were necessary for any level of education.
Every child attending private school an impossibility, we are left with two options: homeschooling or public schools. Although homeschooling provides children with one-on-one attention and allows them to learn at their own pace, many families cannot afford homeschooling either. If the parent wishes to teach, the real cost would be foregoing his/her job to teach the child, an option that is not always possible, in addition to purchasing textbooks, workbooks, etc. If the parent therefore cannot teach, the hiring of a private tutor becomes necessary, the cost of homeschooling rising nearly to the same price as private schools.
Thus, we have fallen back to option number one – public schools. When attending public school is necessary, how can we improve the experience? Perhaps, the answer ironically is making all schools fall under a government monopoly – yes, this includes ridding the U.S. of private schools. If every school in America were a public school, the incentives for competition would come back – the government would want every school to be as excellent as possible to raise the nation’s intelligence rating. The government would thoroughly examine schools and teachers. Every child would receive equal opportunities. Parents could spend their money to increase their utility instead of to pay for private education. In short, everyone would win.
To ensure this switch would work, take Finland as an example. Education solely as a government monopoly has led to benefits in the school system and in students’ lives. Minimized standardized testing, teaching the highest-sought profession, homework limited by time, free college, these are only a few advantages of Finland’s education system.4 Finland ranking number five in best education systems with the US at fourteen, the real question is why have we not switched yet?
1Charles J. Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012), 80-103.
2GreatSchools Staff | February 9, 2017 Print article. “Private versus Public.” Great Schools. February 9, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2017. http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/private-vs-public-schools/.
3Kelly, Melissa. “Private vs. Public Schools: The Teaching Experience.” ThoughtCo. April 2, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2017. https://www.thoughtco.com/teaching-at-private-vs-public-schools-7937.
4Hancock, LynNell. “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” SmithsonianMag. September 01, 2011. Accessed June 18, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/.