I disagree with this post by a faithful reader. But I think it deserves discussion.

There are many reasons to object to privatization.

One is that there is no evidence that privately managed firms that operate public services provide more efficient or less costly service. Another is that privately managed firms, when operating for profit, extract public dollars for investors that taxpayers intended for children, for educational programs that directly benefit children, for reduced class sizes, —and not to enrich shareholders. Privately managed nonprofits often pay salaries that would be unacceptable in the public sector. Privately managed firms tend to exclude the costliest clients to minimize their own costs, thus leaving the hardest cases for the less well funded public sector agency. And last, to destroy public education, which is so inextricably linked to our notions of democracy and citizenship would be an assault on the commonweal. Let us not forget that public education has been the instrument of the great social movements for more than the past half century–desegregation, gender equality, disability rights, and the assimilation of immigrants. Once it is gone, it is gone, and that would be a crime against ourselves.

The reader writes:

“Ladd and Fiske correctly identify the four risks to the public education system of the privatization movement, but they assume that the public education system is an unqualified “good.” What if privatization produces different and better goods? Public education implements mainly a “progressive” philosophy of government. By the word “democracy” it means government control of education and almost everything else it can get its hands on. “Social justice” is the well-worn substitute term for ‘redistribute the wealth.’ I mean no name calling to point out that has been the communist agenda from the beginning and remains the communist agenda.

“The whole point of privatization, then, is to free American education from the statist agenda (which implies ‘community’ responsiblity for every individual and submission of every individual to the tyranny of the community). Most here see public education as an unmixed good. It’s opponents think otherwise, and their motives are clear.

“What is most surprising, however, is to find the Obama Education Department so staunchly behind the measures that we ALL agree are destroying the public school systems. NCLB? RTTT? CCSS? What true educator can support that testing to extinction? It baffles me why Obama/Duncan want to eliminate the public school systems when their objectives in every other area of life, especially health care, is anti individual freedom.

“Ladd and Fiske, then, are totally correct in saying that the privatization movement sees public goods as merely the sum of the individual goods arising from education. I say that is the way it should be in America. What are claimed as social goods lost by privatization are, in my view, really social “bads.” They are mainly accustoming citizens to acquiesce in state control of their lives. There’s been enough of that already.”