As the voucher movement in Wisconsin is poised to claim at least a partial victory, at an American Enterprise sessi0n ironically titled “School Voucher Programs and the Effects of a Little Healthy Competition” pro-voucher think tanker Grover Whitehurst inadvertently identified a flaw at the heart of the market-obsessed, school privatization with public money movement. Education Week reports:
He offered an analogy. A school district decides to allow students to buy meals from off-campus businesses, like the nearby McDonald’s. Public school cafeteria directors have several options to keep students eating in house, Whitehurst said, such as trying to improve outreach to students and encouraging the cafeteria staff to be friendlier. The cafeteria director, he said, “knows about the production function for satisfying customers.”
Just as choice in food consumption has not — in the aggregate — resulted in good and healthy choices, choice in education has not and will not result in good and healthy choices. Many people either don’t know or don’t want what is good and healthy. They want what is fast, tasty and popular. The market doesn’t produce results that are healthy for society.
I don’t care much how people spend their food dollars, but I do care how we spend tax dollars and education dollars. I don’t want it spent on the educational equivalent of McDonalds.
Thomas J. Mertz