Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There is a profit there somewhere

Today I saw a Tweet from one Students First's state groups.  It was something to the effect that all kids deserve a great teacher.

That's hard to argue against.  When I look at their actions, there seems to be a misalignment. 

Students First seems to be for school choice and privatization of public schools.  At least that's my impression.

A simple numeric exercise illustrates that school choice just moves the deck chairs.  Let's assume a school district of 50,000 students with an average class size of 25 for simplicity.  So we have 2,000 teachers.  School choice legislation is passed, charters rush in, and 5,000 students choose other schools.  The charters need 200 teachers to keep our simplistic class size of 25.  Guess who just had to lay off 200 teachers due to enrollment decline.

The charters might be able to pick up a few new teachers here and there, but the job market is full of teachers just laid off from the local public school.  The same kids and many of the same teachers are now under a different governance model.  A model that appears to lower labor costs because the teachers are looking for any work and the charters aren't in the teacher pension system.

Sure seems like there is a profit to be made by charter providers. 

The education sector as a private equity market is a significant strategic challenge.  Our goal is student learning, not profits.

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