Someone tweeted me a few days ago and asked “what’s wrong with privatization?”
I didn’t have time or space to respond in 140 characters, but fortunately someone else has done it for me.
Let me be clear. I believe in the value and strength of the private sector. Long ago, I traveled in the Soviet Union and in China, and I developed a deep respect for the efficiency of the private sector in supplying goods to markets for consumers.
But I believe that a healthy and decent society has a strong private sector to provide goods and services (contractors, plumbers, electricians, repairs, etc.), and a healthy public sector to provide essential public services, like public education, roads, postal service, parks, beaches, transportation, government, police, military, fire fighting, libraries, and healthcare for those who can’t afford to buy it in the private sector. I may be forgetting other essential public services, but you get the point, I hope.
Privatization of public services is not in the public interest. The services are inevitably more expensive to the consumer and the taxpayer, who must now pay profits as well as the cost of the services. And the services are not more efficient; they are even less efficient because there is less money available to pay for the same service. And as the enclosed article shows, there is actually an incentive for failure. Privatized schools want public schools to fail so they can get more customers. Privatized prisons want more criminals for them to house.
We need a healthy private sector and a healthy public sector.
Unfortunately, there is a movement to privatize public education. Big money is going to fund political candidates in both parties who are committed to privatization.
The privatized schools–whether voucher or charter–do not outperform our public schools.
We must resist the current well-funded effort to privatize our public schools.