Ohio State Representative Andrew Brenner?wrote on his blog recently that the US should sell off all public schools and real estate to private businesses to end socialism and teachers unions.
Brenner, the?vice-chair of the Ohio House Education Committee, argues that public education has become too bureaucratic and centralized, and the only way to solve the issue is to completely privatize public education.
After defining “socialism” by way of Wikipedia, Brenner writes that “our public education system is already a socialist system. [sic] and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country.”
On the contrary, free public education was not always offered in the US. In 1852, decades after the founding of our country, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation requiring mandatory school attendance for all children ages eight to fourteen. Today, Massachusetts public schools are ranked the best in the nation, and its students perform toe-to-toe in science and math with kids from traditionally STEM-savvy nations like Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
Just in case someone had doubts about his conservative street cred, Brenner then proceeds to bash teachers unions, which presumably would not exist once companies control education — even though many large unions operate in the private sector.
[Teachers’] own unions became bureaucratic and they started to take the place of school boards and school management. Unions managed to negotiate everything from standardizing their pay and benefits, to school sizes, school hours, the number of teacher workdays and even the time and place of breaks.
Successful negotiation of salary and working conditions is precisely what unions aim to do, after all. At least Brenner didn’t refer to teachers unions as “terrorist organizations” as?Rod Paige, Bush’s education secretary, did in 2004. Instead, he argues:
The free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education, so why can’t it work for our primary education system?
I don’t know, because educating a child is a different sort of task from?building and marketing a credenza? No one is entitled to a credenza, or even a simple dining room table for that matter, but every child is entitled to an education. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child?(CRC) lays this out pretty plainly in Article 28:
All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this right.
The US, by the way, is one of only three UN members that never ratified the CRC, the other two being South Sudan and Somalia.
Brenner concludes by proposing complete privatization of education:
We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector. The private sector includes our existing teachers, superintendents, management and everyday taxpayers… Bust up the education monopolies and do not settle for the lowest common denominator. Privatize everything and the results will speak for themselves.
“The results,” of course, would be that these private companies could teach children whatever they thought was important rather than what society thinks is important. Which is the real impetus behind this idea, not saving taxpayer dollars. Republicans such as Brenner would be all too delighted for our children to be educated by Fox Entertainment Group, Chick-fil-a, or Hobby Lobby, companies that lean heavily right. He is, after all, devoted to “stopping progressive curriculum in our schools,” whatever is implied by “progressive curriculum.” (Evolution? Climate change? Accurate history?)
If we’re going to “privatize everything,” as Brenner suggests, why stop at education? If the plan is to send our kids to PepsiCo High, we might as well let the local police station be sponsored by Walmart, the fire department funded by the Cheesecake Factory, and the Grand Canyon managed by the?Build-a-Bear Workshop.
Edited/Published by: SB
Joseph Guyer?lives in Texas. An ad man by trade, he firmly agrees?with Bill Clinton that there is nothing wrong with America that can’t be cured by what is right with America. You can read more of his work at?Liberals Unite?and?DemoNews?and follow him on Twitter?@joerobguy.