Friday, April 25, 2014

Victoria Young: To Privatize or Not to Privatize?

Victoria Young: To Privatize or Not to Privatize?:

Victoria Young: To Privatize or Not to Privatize?

by Victoria Young
Let’s put these questions on the table: What attracts so many Americans to the idea that private companies can better run the public education system? How do they see this current trend as being best for the country?
Since public education is an institution that has served us well over time, privatization is a topic worthy of further consideration, discussion, and thought before we take further actions in the name of  “education reform.”
The term “privatization” goes beyond the act of using public dollars for private services. We have always done that where and when necessary public services can’t be provided any other way. But that isn’t the limit of the privatization process our public education system is undergoing. We are allowing public policy to be developed that puts private interests (money) ahead of the public good. In this case, our education reform laws are putting the education-industrial complex ahead of the needs of school children, their families, and their local communities.
Another way of putting it is “privatization is the transfer of activities, assets and responsibilities from government and public institutions and organizations to private individuals and agencies” (Belfield/Levin). In an ideal world, the part about a transfer of “responsibilities” would hold true.
Hospitals and prisons are both examples of institutions where privatization was tried and continues to be tried with mixed results. Many are probably too young to remember when almost every community had a community hospital. Slowly and without fanfare, they disappeared from small town America as larger non-profit and for-profit hospitals took over. Many Americans now do not have the luxury of having a hospital nearby and hospital costs have risen.
Attempts to privatize prisons through the idea that private providers will be more effective and efficient sounded good to lawmakers in many states but proved more costly—in
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