Monopolist Schools vs Private Education

Yomin Postelnik writes:

High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to commit crime, according to a 2003 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Other research shows that teens who are no longer in school or are truant are far more likely to fall prey to drug abuse, possess a decreased sense of self worth and are more apt to poverty. And while this is not the case among teens who leave school for steady, full time work, very few students who drop out of school transition immediately into the workforce.

The way to solve any problem is to analyze its causes and propose common sense solutions that don’t exacerbate it further. In this case, the educational crisis stems from three factors. First, many urban children are brought up without guidance and direction. Second, children have been raised to “do what feels good,” with a focus on instant gratification and without regard for what’s best long term (even if this was not the parents’ intent, children often learn by example). And last, the school system has stopped stimulating academic growth and fails to deal with the student’s specific needs. As a result, school has become a boring drudgery and a chore that is, in the mind of the student, best gotten rid of.

To correct the first two causes we need to motivate parents to take an interest in the upbringing of their children. To correct the final cause, real and meaningful improvements must be brought to the school system.

Honestly, there is one thing that schools could do, not to completely solve the first two causes, but to contribute towards a solution, and that is to help instill a moral center in kids by instructing them in the moral components of a religious education, centered on the golden rule. As the government shall not establish a state religion, whether it be atheism or anything else, any more than this would be prohibited. But this appears to fall outside the establishment clause.

Postelnik goes on with an array of ideas, which don’t appear to be too closely thought out, but then makes an important point. The only way to get any improvements into the monopoly of public schools is with outside pressure. And the most obvious source of outside pressure is private schools and homeschooling to compete with public schools. The US percentage of students in private, non-government schools is around 9%, compared to over 50% in the UK and even more in Japan. The number of students in homeschooling situations is around 1%. If the number of private schools and the prevalence of homeschooling is increased in the US this would provide meaningful competition to the public school monopoly. As Porter’s ‘s five forces of competition require, the monopolistic practices of public schools would end. The monopoly would be busted.

That would be even a bigger monopoly to bust than Standard Oil or Microsoft, and it would have an even greater positive effect.

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