Public Versus Private Education

What is a private company? A public one? What is outsourcing? Offshoring? What about private versus public education?

We hear these terms daily in relation to retirement plans, manufacturing, education, as it relates to public retirement plans (i.e., Social Security, 401K, IRAs and such) education and non-curriculum-oriented educational services (e.g., food service, transportation, grounds keeping, etc.).

Another arena which this debate enters is private versus public companies, stock options, etc., and the term, “outsourcing”. Prisons are a growing private industry where once they were public (i.e., government owned and operated).

What about judges and lawyers and legal clerks?

Some of the terms, and the concepts they are supposed to convey (and yes, obfuscation, euphemism, and other forms of double-speak most definitely enter into this) pose a bit of a conundrum-and one which I do not claim to be able to unravel.

If Republicans claim to not be about big government, then why is the political presence and power of Republicans increasing in government, creating in some ways, the proverbial government without walls (i.e., you don’t know where they begin or endâÂ?¦the edges are definitely blurred). If Republicans claim that privatization is the way to go, then why, in their capacity as government fixtures, are they negotiating this?

If Democrats claim that they are not for big business, then why are many of them party to the outsourcing of services and other privatization issues?

Consider for a moment that there is a history of problems in education in California, and more specifically, in San Diego schools. If the public sphere hasn’t done a good job, why not allow the private sphere to contribute their expertise? Don’t they already do this through Partnerships in Education? Shouldn’t companies, great and small, contribute to their communities in this fashion? Shouldn’t they contribute to the future success of their own industries as well as other industries that entertain, inform, and otherwise serve their communities?

What industry serves the interests of the teachers, though? Unions and organizations such as the California Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, and AFT? What about the schools themselves? Districts and other administrative/political entities?

Since the teaching industry is education, and the bulk of their funds come from the public sphere, and the public sphere is donating less to this segment than perhaps to other industrial arenas, why might the privatization of our schools be an issue?
Who pays for the student loans? The grants, etc., if the students can’t afford this? Sometimes, their employers payâÂ?¦Where could we find a list of those companies that pay their employees to go back to school or those that offer jobs while students are in school with the “understanding” (sometimes contractually maintained) that they will continue to word for said company after completion of their educationâÂ?¦They need to protect their investments, right? Is this like being an indentured servant?

What about the motivations of the private companies? Perpetuation of their industries? Do they study the students? Use them as market surveyees? Indoctrinate them into a weltanschauung, a world view, to perpetuate their interests? Or they “purely” concerned with co-creating a viable community with successful, happy, healthy members? Could they be so altruistic? The old trickle-down theory? The “give back to the community that gave to them” theory? What are their motivations?

Aren’t corporations about profit and the power that that can bring? What are the motivations of government “companies”? To serve the people? What about accountability? What about customer service? What about fair hiring practices and equity in employment? What about?

Who serves whom in a corporation? The stockholders supposedly own the company. Then there’s the board of directors who serve the stockholders and the company interests. What if you don’t own stock in the company? Do they care about you? Ok, if you buy their product. Is there more choice here? Don’t the mediators and facilitators of these processes don’t give the clients a choice? The choice is made for them by administrators and such? I ask again: who benefits?

In the case of our children and our youth-even the returning student who already has a family perhaps and has already had a career, etc., do they benefit? Or do they “just” deal with what their perceived options are? What are their options? An array with hidden red tape, small print, a read-between-the-lines contractual blood contract?

But what if they could do better? Doesn’t that possibility exist? Might they care more because they may be paid more (or will they go with the lowest bid, the lowers daily cost, etc., decrying budget concerns and such, while CEOS and BODs collect the profits?

The public/government sphere doesn’t always, or perhaps even usually do, a good job. This isn’t about blame, though, perhaps it’s about not having enough funds in the pot or sluggish administrative systems, or outdated technology, or âÂ?¦

Then there’s the matter, decried by many, that this will decrease, rather than increase, the educational levels of the populace. You’ve heard all the clichÃ?©s: the rich will get richer, the poor poorer, only those with political connections will benefit, and so forth and so on ad nauseum.

What if it isn’t true?

Do we trust big business? Many people will say no, that ethics and conflicts, etc. prevail. We can say the same about government as well. How many people really trust their various governmental offices to treat them well, to take care of their needs, etc.

Government is a business. Some say that government IS big business and that corporations “run” the world already. Not that big a shift, is it?

Who pays their salaries? We do? Ok, we don’t get to determine this, do we. Oh yeah, we vote on it. But what don’t we vote on, either due to closed-door machinations and misunderstandings or a lack or ballots of dysfunctional voting methods, or. ..

You see my conundrum? Am I missing something? Is there an alternative to this? When there are only two choices, case in point “Public versus Private”, it’s an automatic fallacy, isn’t it? The “either-or” fallacy, the gist of which is that there are only two choices provided as if there aren’t also a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc.

What is choice three? Both? Don’t we already have a combination? Then, isn’t it a matter of degree, of percentages?

Choice four? Neither? So, if it’s not public and not private and not a combination of the two, then what is it?

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