27 April 2017

Americans Cashing In: Uganda's For Profit Schools

I've heard quite a few Christians advocate this model for the United States. They believe that if parents had some investment in their children's schooling they would be more pro-active in managing their conduct and making sure they take time to study etc.

Of course for this to take place the Department of Education would have to be eliminated as well as most state requirements.
They would point to these examples in Africa as demonstrating how this principle works. They would then wish to apply it to both US inner cities and poor rural areas, the parts of the country that are clearly ailing.
While I'm not sympathetic to government bureaucrats trying to keep a piece of the pie and maintain control of a rather lucrative portion of the public sector, nor am I at all inclined to consider the desires of teacher's unions...
Yet there is something obscene about those who would profit from things that many people consider basic to life. While education isn't quite the same as water, food and even medicine, the reality is in these poor struggling places education is the one shot many of these kids will ever have at getting out and making something of their lives.
I'm assuming worldly categories of 'success' for the sake of argument.
I think the question of forcing people into debt and then capitalising on it is really the issue at stake. And when one considers the nature of this service, there is certainly an exploitative and usurious element at work here.
But then of course capitalising on the debt of others is very much at the heart of the modern Western system, the very paradigm many Christians deem as reflective of Scripture. The ideas of borrowing, investment and return are at the very essence of what Capitalism is.
On the one hand I fully understand the argument for public schools. I can even make a case for their necessity. For such a system to function within a social (as opposed to individualistic) context there must be resource equality and equilibrium. For some parents this will mean their children attend schools that do not meet their expectations. For others the public school will exceed anything they could hope for otherwise.
What is problematic (to me) is when the state seeks to restrict those who wish to opt out. To some degree the system only functions well when everyone participates, i.e. when all kids attend the public school.
And yet this is not like the present argument and dilemma faced by the insurance industry. The public education model does not collapse if there's less than 100% participation. We're raising our kids outside the public school system and yet we pay taxes to support it. I'm not complaining. I'd rather have the public school there, than not there.
I don't expect others to homeschool as we do, nor do I think the majority of them can even possibly understand why we homeschool.
We'll pay the taxes but we want to be left alone. We're not and yet despite the frustrating bureaucracy, additional costs and paperwork... it's not too bad. And I say that as one who lives in one of HSLDA's poorly rated states.
The final line indicates that in the end the state may opt out of public education and hand it over to the private sector. Some also wish this would come to pass in the United States. I think handing over education to exploitative profiteers would be tragic.

Of course this has already all but happened in the realm of college education. One can still get a really good education but the costs are almost beyond comprehension.

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