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Friday, June 15, 2018

Peter Greene: Would A Free Market School System Leave Education Deserts?

Would A Free Market School System Leave Education Deserts?

Would A Free Market School System Leave Education Deserts?

This week's hearing by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce tipped its hand with its title-- "The Power of Charter Schools: Promoting Opportunity for America's Students." It featured a parade of charter school advocates, with one exception. Somehow, Jonathon Phillip Clark made it into the room.

The market can't make every piece of land a garden (Shutterstock)
Clark is a father or seven, assistant director of a Detroit nonprofit that provides mentoring and tutoring, and a board member of 482Forward, a group that advocates for high-quality education for all Detroit children. Clark's testimony highlights many of the problems of charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere-- broken promises, unstable leadership, unelected governing bodies hundreds of miles away from the people they serve. He underlined the practical problems as well, like driving back and forth across the city to get children to and from their separate schools.
What Clark describes is a kind of education desert, a predictable result of a free market approach to schools.
We already know about food deserts, described by the CDC as "areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet." Food deserts tend to be areas where it does not make business sense to serve the local (usually poor) population.
The free market is not evil, but it is practical. No matter what sector we're talking about, there are always some customers who are unprofitable to serve. You may want new Chipotle or Lexus dealership in your town, but if nobody can build a business case for the operation, then your town will remain a Chipotle and Lexus desert.
This is why the government provides some goods and services. If the markets were responsible for roads, only some people would get roads. If the markets were responsible for providing military protection, only some people would be protected.
We have an area where the private sector competes with the Continue Reading: Would A Free Market School System Leave Education Deserts?