Are Illinois Schools Underfunded?
Ralph Martire has an article in Saturdays Chicago Sun-Times where he tries to explain why schools need more money. The problem is his argument is seriously flawed. First his argument.
Say you’ve developed a really sound business plan. Your market research demonstrates your product is in great demand. Better yet, it will continue to be in demand. You’ve identified good ideas for production, operations and marketing. You’ve even assembled a highly skilled and professional management team and labor force. Now you’re just missing one crucial element: sufficient financing.
The bigger the idea, the more money you’ll need. Consider the energy industry. Certainly, there’ll be demand for electricity into the foreseeable future. Building a power plant is expensive, however, so you’ll need a lot of upfront capital, as well as ongoing revenue. There are architects, engineers, lawyers, technicians, construction workers and plant employees to hire — not to mention regulatory costs. Failure to have enough money to hire highly qualified individuals for these jobs not only will lead to insolvency but could result in a public disaster.
Now, onto the problem with his argument.
Nothing in the preceding paragraphs is controversial. It’s just the way things work in the real world. Even the best business ideas can’t get off the ground without adequate investment. So why does such a mundane concept become controversial when applied to school funding? Suggest that additional funding is needed for our state public education system to produce better results, and naysayers crawl out of the woodwork.
But review public education using the considerations outlined previously. Clearly, there is great demand for high-quality public schools, which isn’t going away anytime soon. Education can even boast of a highly trained, professional management team and work force. Almost half the state’s teachers have a master’s degree. Most principals and superintendents have masters’, and many have Ph.D.’s. Admittedly, a small minority are unqualified, dishonest or both. But hey, how many inept, unethical or dishonest folks populate the private sector?
Now you know the fatal flaws in his argument. Let’s take them 1 by 1:
- Public schools are a good business model
Public Government Schools are a monopoly and thus they have no competition. A monopoly is not a good business model. The government admits as much by creating laws to prevent monopolies. They are bad for consumers. Public Government Schools are no exception. They have become bad for their consumers. Here are a couple of quotes by Neal McCluskey, a policy analyst with Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom in a debate at edspresso.com on No Child Left Behind about monopolies.
Now, what does a monopolist do? He tries to control as many customers as he can. That’s a problem for Mike: The history of American education shows that public schooling has been driven by a relentless effort to expand the public school monopoly, ultimately to the federal level.
This was not the case at first. Until about 1830, education was pretty much market-driven and educational attainment grew steadily, despite the fact that America was still primarily a wild, unsettled land. What changed? Immigrants arrived, industrialization started, and people with political power resolved to “assimilate”