Our society, as a whole, has been heading toward a decentralized system ofconducting its affairs. Large corporations have been getting larger , meanwhilegovernments have been giving up increasing amounts of their control. Thisdecentralization has affected even former mainstays of government control, suchas phone and power companies. As decentralization becomes more of a reality,there has been a great deal of debate over what controls the government shouldmaintain or relinquish. The public school system has long been a source offrustration.
Many feel the schools would be run more efficiently and with betterresults if privately run companies were to take over. They feel that with theexisting large, encumbering bureaucracy, the government is simply unable toprovide the proper base that is necessary to support a successful school system. The proponents of privatized school systems have long maintained thatgovernments are not as knowledgeable about individual school environments asthose who and they have to manage many schools, whereas the owners of a specificprivate subsidized school would be well informed about the school’scircumstances and can concentrate on that school alone. They say that thegovernments role should become that of regulator, not schoolmaster, and thatsince the private schools do not face the political constraints that themunicipal governments face,they would be more able to adapt to change. Since theoperation of public schools is more bureaucratic and centralized than privatesubsidized schools, it is expected to inhibit rather than promote educationalinnovation. Private schools, being less bureaucratic and more decentralized, areexpected to be more efficient organizations and to have a better perspectivethan their public school counterparts.
They are also expected to provide agreater incentive and opportunity to come up with more innovative programs thanpublic schools in order to stay competitive. Bureaucracy is expected to hinderinitiative and efficiency, whereas the private sector in general is expected tobe more dynamic and responsive because of their need to stay competitive. It ishoped that this competitiveness will foster innovation. On the other side of thedebate is the group that favors continued government control over the schoolsystem.
They argue that privatizing the schools would lead to a decreased focuson the needs of the children with an increased emphasis placed on the bottomline. They maintain that the companies taking over for the government wouldfocus their attention more on cutting corners to make larger profits rather thanon the education of children. With continued government control over the schoolsystem, there will remain a stability that is necessary to insure a full andequal educational opportunity for all. Having the education system privatizedwould create inequalities in the method that education would be provided. Thosewho oppose privatization agree that not only would municipal control maintainstability, but would also ensure fair and equal teatment for all. The same wouldnot hold true if the schools were placed in private hands.
Schools that do notmake a profit along with teachers that are no longer needed would simply let goin order to save money or maintain profits. I can see that there are severalbenefits on both sides. The economic benefits are obviously in favor of adecentralized school structure. There be no bureaucracy to wade through to makethe simplest decisions, in the system would allow teachers to make importantground level decisions as they see fit. This increased efficiency includes manybenefits, but with what cost? What about the special needs children, or theunder privileged, will the private companies take care of them? What happenswhen these companies don’t make enough money on a school, will they close itdown? The children whose schools have been closed will have to travel furtherand further just to get to school, if they even go.
Maybe there should just bemega-schools were ten schools are combined into one, all to save the managingcompany money. With government control, there may not be efficiency but there issome stability. That is the important thing. Companies can open and close theirdoors in a day, but schools are more important than companies. Education is thekey to our futures, can we afford to gamble with what is a stake? The governmentmust become more efficient at doing its job in managing our schools, andbusiness has proven itself to be efficient.
Maybe there is a way to combine thetwo and receive the best of both worlds.