Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Privatizing Education & Medicine

I've been thinking quite a bit about blogging on the parallels between the efforts to privatize both public medicine at LSU and our public education system in New Orleans. I don't need to now. Ralph Adamo wrote this excellent article in The American Prospect about the chaos that exists from the current privatization efforts in our city. With the privatization of education, companies such as Alvarez & Marsal, Sodexho, and JRL Enterprises are making quick fortunes on the backs of our students, and there is little accountability.

Adamo's conclusions are right on the mark in my opinion:
The state has to do several things in order to legitimize its actions. The schools have to be returned to the community in a manner that re-establishes accountability, not run by consultants for the short term and the quick profit. If that means a return to being run by publicly elected officials, that is the price we pay for living in a democracy. Curriculum and services such as security and hot meals should derive from the local population and economy, not be imported via giant education and service corporations. The right of teachers and other school workers to organize and to bargain collectively cannot be denied indefinitely, nor those who attempt to organize such basic rights punished for their crimes. The market drives only to one location: profit. That is a legitimate destination in business. But education, like medicine, ought not operate under the rules and expectations of business.


Ben Montgomery said...

While I can understand that there will be some faults with privatizing both education and health care it at least provides us with options. Living in New Orleans, La and not recognizing the fact that profit also drives a lot of public officials (Jefferson, Thomas, Edwards, etc..) is absurd. It is far better to give people choice in a market, and let the winners be the ones that can provide the better services then to let the politicians pick and choose the winners(those willing to provide kick backs). Government should make and enforce the rules, not play in the game.

- Ben

Michael Homan said...

Hi Ben, options are a good thing. I'm not in favor of closing all of the charter schools, just making sure that there are many non-charters left that are public and first rate schools. There are honest public officials, perhaps more in other places, but that can change. I came from an excellent public school system in Omaha Nebraska. Why can't that exist here? I continue to think that neighborhood schools build community.

Your driver said...

The looting of public wealth is something that I worry about often. I work for a public agency that is being killed off. It seems that Ben's solution to public corruption is to relabel it "profits" and legitimize it.