Reading & Reacting: Prisons, Post Offices and Public Schools: Some Things Should Not Be For Profit

By Anthony Cody @ EdWeek‘s Living in Dialogue blog.

Anthony Cody has been on an unbelievable roll of late with his column. In this latest post he exposes some basic problems with certain public services being run as businesses. As the title indicates a host of problems begin creeping into the mix for prisons, post offices, and public schools when they are driven by a profit motive.

While staying on a summary level, Cody sources his claims with hyperlinks for the reasons why each service runs into problems driven by profits, even becoming harmful and potentially dangerous.

For prisons, efficiently cutting costs, exploits the most powerless and disenfranchised population in our society, potentially infringing prisoners basic human rights, as well as undermining public safety.

For the U.S. Post Office, as legal requirements have been changed requiring certain management practices offices closed all over the country, and there have been significant cuts in jobs and services.

For education, test based accountability has already lead to school closures and job losses, but it further marginalizes under-served student populations and communities. It creates greater instability in a context where children need greater stable and reliable foundations. However, more insidious is how the Common Core is a way to create a scalable, national marketplace for vendors to operate more efficiently in education, instead of having to work less efficiently state by state.

Perhaps most compelling about Cody’s point is that competitive for-profit motives make behavior and institutions less humane. When it comes to addressing the needs of those already most underprivileged, most under-served, and most marginalized what incentive is there? Certainly there is little if any profit to be had.


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