Nothing about the market is free, except maybe the parking, but only sometimes. Everything needs to be paid for in one way or another.
The price of goods is set by many factors. One of the simplest ways to set prices is through supply and demand. If supply is greater than demand, the price will decrease. If demand is greater than supply, price will increase. It’s pretty simple.
If supply and demand are both constant and even, the only way to affect price is quality. People are willing to pay more if they can be assured of a better product.
This breeds competition, which is the mother of progress.
Despite what the ‘Occupy whatever’ crowds are screaming in between bong-hits and drumbeats, the free market system drives competition, which in turn improves the quality of life for all of us.
K-12 education is anything but a free market. The government has had a virtual monopoly since the public school system was founded. This may be about to change. Indianapolis, and IPS superintendant Eugene White, are leading the charge.
Actually, Mr. White is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the reality of the 21st century. With school vouchers becoming more available, private and charter schools increasing their presence in the district, and a renewed interest from parents in the education of their children, the stage is set for a sort of revolution in public education.
Mr. White has 2 choices: He can stomp his feet and scream that private and charter schools have an unfair advantage over public schools, or he can aggressively seek to reform public education in Indianapolis. Actually, he’s doing a little of both.
This week, White complained about private and charter schools illegally “dumping” students on the public school system after the state’s official count day. Schools are paid according to enrollment. White charges that some schools are accepting students, keeping them there until the official count day, and the finding reasons to kick them out. This leaves the public school in the unenviable position of having to educate these children with no assistance from the federal government. Since the federal imbursement rate is about 8000 dollars per student, the superintendant is right in raising the issue. If it proves to be true, the offending schools should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.Children, and their parents, are not statistics. They should not be treated as numbers on a ledger.
Our founding fathers felt that the only way to perpetuate a liberal democracy was to have an educated, well-informed citizenry. This is the reason so much time, money, and effort was put into the public school system. Anyone that would attempt to take advantage of the system for their own personal gain is not only cheating the children and parents, but doing a disservice to the nation. They should be treated as traitors.
That being said, the accused have denied any wrongdoing. White says he has proof. We’ll see where that goes in the future. For now, let’s look at what else Eugene has been up to. He has been creating, with the help of The Mind Trust, something called ‘magnet schools’. These are intended to provide special curriculum in science, law, and so forth. These specialized schools offer parents the opportunity to choose the educational environment that they feel is most appropriate for their children. They offer an alternative to charter schools, private schools, and home-schooling that has not been available through the public school system.
Competition, choice, alternatives, improvement. It’s like Free Markets 101.
IPS is in an excellent position to set the standard for public education going forward. Should they continue on the path towards more choices, more opportunities, and more quality, they could be in the vanguard of a revolution in public education in this country.
Blessed with a more discerning populace, an abubndance of quality teaching professionals, and, thanks to Mitch Daniels, a less unyielding and arrogant teacher’s union, Eugene White appears to be the right man in the right place at the right time.
Lead on Mr. White. Less talk, more action. Less whining, more reforming. Your responsiblilty is not to the school boards, the unions, or even the governor. Your job is to provide the best possible education to the children of Indianapolis. If dirtying yourself in the murky waters of the free market is the best way to do it, get muddy my friend.