The Difference Between the Public and Private Sectors
Jonathon Braden at the Columbia Daily Tribune‘s Homeroom blog reports on Sylvan Learning Center closings in Columbia and Jefferson City. This is a feature of private-sector education that we might not notice when times are good, but that’s apparent during recessions: Private schools and tutoring centers that can’t attract enough students end up closing. Public schools don’t. There are budget cuts, teachers are laid off, summer school is canceled — but the school stays.
I think that difference explains away the “mystery” set forth in this piece at TCSDaily. Why has state spending on education failed to make things better? The answer is not educational “fads” or teachers who are “nitwits,” as the article suggests. You can find them in private schools as well as in other sectors, so their existence can’t account for the inefficient use of public education funds. The problem is that the traditional districts have no mechanism to get rid of them, and no incentive to support the best teachers and expand practices that work.
Any organization contains some good and some bad. Private tutoring centers have to identify and reward the good — otherwise, they go out of business. Traditional districts that aren’t threatened by an exodus of students have no incentive to distinguish the good from the bad. If they expand their worst practices and ignore the best ideas, they’ll still get money to keep doing the same thing.