Who profits from public schools?

Linda Welborn, a member of the Guilford County Board of Education, has figured it out…or so she thinks.

The new charter school movement, backed by big money, has infiltrated North Carolina. Our children are the ones who will lose as profit-mongers consume more tax dollars. North Carolinians – whether promoters of choice, traditional public schools or simply taxpayers – the new charter school movement is corrosive to all.

She does not identify who represents “the new charter school movement” or where this “big money” comes from.  She fails to include any statistic on profit margins enjoyed by education management companies.  You’ll search in vain for any analysis of student performance in charter schools that receive assistance from management companies.  Welcome to the land of straw men.

Underneath it all is the ol’ “nobody should make a profit from public education” argument. I’m tired of it, frankly.

So, here is a partial list of  those who make a profit from public education:

1. Computer companies – all schools have computers, hand-held devices, and other hardware in them

2. Software companies – those computers have software on them

3. Furniture companies – kids gotta sit on something and write on something else

4. School bus companies – until someone invents the Transporter, we’ll have to use buses

5. Textbook companies – the Gideons have no school textbook equivalent

6. School supply companies – pencils! pens! reams of paper! chemistry equipment!

7. Instructional technology companies – those video and audio systems, e.g., Smart Boards, are not free

8. Television companies – many classrooms come equipped with a TV (and sometimes a DVD player too)

9. Landowners, Realtors, construction companies, contractors, and suppliers – building and maintaining schools requires working with (gasp!) for-profit businesses

10. Food and beverage suppliers – think school lunches, vending machines, and snack bars

11. Copier companies – copiers are teachers’ best friend or worst nightmare

12. Athletic equipment – for physical education

13. Musical instruments – for music education

14. Art supplies – for art education

15. Energy companies – many things run on electricity these days

 

Feel free to add to the list in the comments section!

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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