Don’t Tell Hillary, But Privatization Works In Education, Too

Remember Hillary Clinton’s declaration that privatization never works? She may want to look at a new study in the Journal of Public Economics, which analyzed the effect of a school voucher system in Milwaukee. Not only did privatization improve the education of childred redirected from the public school system, it also forced the public schools to improve to remain competitive:

As a voucher program in Milwaukee has expanded, taking money and pupils out of public schools, the schools have responded by ramping up their own performance, a forthcoming study in the Journal of Public Economics argues.
The paper offers one of the most positive conclusions yet drawn in the heated debate over the effects of the 17-year-old Milwaukee program, which in 2007 sent more than 17,000 low-income Milwaukee students to private schools via publicly funded scholarships. It is the nation’s largest publicly funded voucher experiment, having grown from seven participating private schools in 1990 to 121 in 2007.
At issue is whether the program has appreciably helped the students who are given places in private schools, as well whether it has hurt the students who stay in public schools.

How did they make those adjustments? One of the voucher program’s critics says that people should be skeptical, because the school districts changed superintendents and curriculum in order to achieve their gains. Well, it looked like it worked! Perhaps that’s what the public schools needed, and it appears that the competition from the private schools forced the school districts to figure out the reasons for poor performance.
The voucher program did not start off as successfully as it has been recently. Two changes created most of the success, according to the study’s author, economist Rajashri Chakrabarti. The second replaced the money for public schools that was lost when a student used the vouchers. The first and primary improvement came when Milwaukee allowed parents to choose parochial schools, greatly expanding the number of choices and creating a more competitive environment.
It appears that privatization works in two directions when dealing with government bureaucracies. First, private enterprise and competition give consumers a wider choice and force suppliers to become more responsive. Second, when public bureaucracies see their funding threatened, they reorganize to meet the threat and become more efficient themselves. The marketplace forces reforms that would not take place without the clarifying effect of competition.
Someone might want to tip Hillary to the news that privatization works.

27 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Hillary, But Privatization Works In Education, Too”

  1. The post office is vastly better than it was 25-years ago, too. It was privatized and had to face competition from FedEx, UPS, and others. For those too young to remember, a first class letter could take a week to travel across town, there was no such thing as Priority Mail or Express Mail – any sort of package was Parcel Post and could take a month to arrive. Hillary is old enough to remember those days.

  2. I bet the communists are envious of Hillary.
    In the old Soviet eastern bloc, they eventually had to lock up and kill the intellectuals and the artists, who saw communism for what it was and spoke up about it. This was a horrible P.R. problem for them.
    Hillary isn’t getting any slack at all from the intellectuals and the artists in America. They’re slobbering all over her. Suddenly, confiscating private property is cool in America. How did we get here?

  3. Amazing! Here we are in the United State of America, in 2007, hearing a serious contender for the office of President proffer the virtues of socialism and pronouncing capitalism dead. The fact that we are having this national conversation at this point in our history is remarkable. How’d we get here indeed?

  4. Privitization works because it is compatible with human nature. Socialism and Communism don’t work and never will because they are contrary to human nature. That is why the jack-boot of Totalitarianism becomes necessary – to um “modify” human behavior in order to achieve the greater good.

  5. Never mind how we got here. How the heck do we get out? The combination of the national debt and the “unfunded liabilities” of Social Security and Medicaid, if we tried to start covering them now instead of waiting for them to blow up in our face, would consume the ENTIRE federal budget for the next 29 years! (or double the budget, and tax rates, more likely) Maybe privatization doesn’t work, but the socialist creep has gotten us into one heck of a jam already, we don’t need more.

  6. “The second replaced the money for public schools that was lost when a student used the vouchers. ”
    Does this mean that since they are no longer losing the money to private schools, they’ll go back to their old ways?

  7. Why does anyone even suspect that Hilary does not know this? She is certainly very smart. She runs with a very smart crowd too. And it is thoroughly obvious that it works and the sort of government monoploies of enterprise that she is pushing never do work out to the benefit of the people (only the bureaucracy thrives).
    Shouldn’t we then draw the compelingly obvious conclusion that she simply doesn’t care that the peasants get screwed over under her plans and that the potential increase in governmental control of the masses is her goal here?

  8. I taught in the public high school system for 31 years.
    I saw a system go through the full range of ‘product porduction’ from ‘rural good’ to fair/poor and then up to excellent.
    Each system within each state is unique. The lack of competition is a big factor to be sure. One must also accept that there is a lot of pressure that comes from sources other than the surrounding schools. Most of the pressure comes, as it should, from the community that is served by the school system. Most often, the community gets what it is willing to demand. Generally this means that they must elect a school board that demands high academic standards and is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. The community must then stand behind the board and give it the resources and participation needed. The battle between the political elements in a town that “wants the best”, and the group that “won’t pay for an ivory tower” can be bitter at the least.
    In the system that I retired from the battle had gone back and forth for many years, both at the level of school board membership and at the purse-strings level. The most important thing that happened in the flow of things was a change in the population of the town. It is in an area of commercial/technical growth and has changed from small factory/agricultural to bedroom/commuter over a period of 35 years. The median income of the area is now in the upper 15% for the state. It took many of those years and many battles of the budget before the ‘yuppies’ would outnumber the ‘farmers’. The demands on the school system gradually changed as the population changed. The climax occured when the regional accreditation entity, which serves several states, put the district on “probationary” status. The uproar caused a decisive shift in the balance. The plans from the report were accepted and the district was forced to move. The superintendant stayed on the job as a courtesy to do the business of the district, but several operational spots had new faces. There was also a new administrative spot that dealt with only educational matters, (and provided insulation from ‘tinkering’ by the superintendant). The teaching staff, which had been frustrated on many fronts for years, saw this as an opportunity and ‘bought in’ to a broad ranges of changes. Some of these involved alterations in work rules and union issues. It was an exciting time to be working in the system. The changes were dramatic. In less than two years the district had regained “full accreditation”. Within another two years the new High School Principal was given national recognition as “Principal of the Year”, and the the school itself had been named a U.S. Department of Education, “Natiional School of Excellence”.
    The school, like many others, is a “choice” school, which means that students from other towns may enroll there, (and bring funding from the home school district with them, a little like a voucher program I guess). At this time it is hard to get in because the schools have pretty much filled to capacity. Even the best schools have to deal with crowding.
    A bit of a reality check might be that there are now more students in the high school than there were in the whole district when I came to town. The demographics of the population have changed a huge amount. The local population ‘gets’ what it demands in terms of education, but in truth, sadly, it always did. That is the crux of the situation. As long as there is a large enough population in a community which does not value higher levels of education the voting booths will not make it happen. When the tide turns, so will the quality of education. The frustration with the education system that I seem to hear most, is from people with high desires that live in areas where their values are not in the majority. They are trapped by the politics and fiscal sentiments of the communities where they reside.
    In most places with poor public education, the systems have taken years to grow into what they are. In the long and the short of it, the schools reflect the demands of the community at large. The true fix involves a basic cultural change at the grass roots level. Until that happens, the problem will continue, and all the political pandering in the world won’t change it.
    (Please note, this same argument can be applied to crime rates, gang problems, welfare, etc.–etc.)

  9. Public funding for education I support.
    Public schools, I absolutely do not support. Unless they have to compete.
    It’s immoral to force people to pay taxes for public schools and then force them to pay again to educate their children, simply because the public schools are not and cannot due their jobs properly.
    Inner city public schools are a complete and utter disaster and are solely owned by the absolutely worthless Democrat Party.
    For decades we’ve heard “more funding and smaller class sizes”. For decades schools have received more funding, class sizes have declined, but test scores have declined to the point where the Democrats now tell us that there really is no way to measure progress and that standardized tests are outmoded.
    So as usual, it’s tbe Democrats message to taxpayers – keep forking over your dough, don’t ask questions and just STFU in general. The corrupt and incompetent Democrat Party is on the case.

  10. Mike and Jeff asked, “How did we get here?” We got here because Republicans — the purported champions of capitalism and freedom — have never had the courage to challenge the fundamental principle on which the liberal welfare state is based.
    That principle is the notion that one man’s needs entitle him to another man’s money — and that the function of government is to confiscate the funds of the “non-needy” or the “less needy” to provide benefits to the needy. It is based on the morality of altruism, which holds that the good consists of helping others. No one has ever offered the slightest justification for either of these ideas, except to claim that if you don’t agree with them, then you must be a selfish monster that wants to harm others.
    It is this view of morality that must be challenged and rejected. We must uphold the principle that all human beings have a right to exist for their own sake, without being forced to sacrifice for anyone else and without having the power to force others to sacrifice for them. This is the moral principle behind the concept of inalienable individual rights to life, to liberty, to property and to the pursuit of one’s own happiness. And the protection of these rights against those who use force or fraud to violate them is the only proper function of government.
    Those who find themselves in need have a right to ask for help, but they have no right to FORCE others to help, and no right to have the government do the forcing for them.
    These are the ideas that Republicans have been afraid to champion — and in fact, Republicans have explicitly agreed with the altruistic premises of the welfare state. Even the sainted Ronald Reagan, praised as the greatest American conservative, explicitly agreed with the welfare state in principle. The man who came to Washington famously stating that “Government is not the solution, government is the problem” also made clear that he had no intention of challenging the premises of the welfare state. In his first budget address to Congress in February of 1981. Reagan stated the following:
    “We will continue to fulfill the obligations that spring from our national conscience. Those who, through no fault of their own, must depend on the rest of us — the poverty stricken, the disabled, the elderly, all those with true need — can rest assured that the social safety net of programs they depend on are exempt from any cuts.”
    Reagan in this speech invented the term, “the social safety net” — and thereby conceded, without argument, the very premise of the liberal welfare state. Once Republicans concede that government’s function is to provide help for the “truly needy”, all the remains is an endless — and loosing — debate over how much “helping” is to be done. And that is why spending on federal government welfare programs DOUBLED during the eight years Reagan was in office.
    That is how we got here. The welfare state — socialism “lite” — is the death of capitalism. Hillary Clinton and all the other Democratic politicians are merely applying the principle that Republicans refuse to challenge.
    Observe that even now, in the debate over “universal health care”, conservatives do not challenge its moral status — they simply argue that it is impractical. Well, it is, but more important is the fact that it is immoral. It’s immoral because, like all welfare programs, it grants to some individuals the right to goods and services paid for by the involuntary labor of other individuals. As such, it’s a program founded on involuntary servitude — it is slavery. Yes, it’s only part-time slavery; the taxes to pay for the welfare state take only about 30% of my money. And yes, it’s a more prosperous slavery than what was forced on the blacks in the 19th century. But it is nonetheless completely indefensible and immoral. And that is the basis on which conservatives should reject it.

  11. Michael Smith, you are exactly right on your cause and effect explanation. I share your disgust with my own party’s failures to reject all socialism, at all levels. I also agree with your equation of the current welfare estate to a form of slavery. But the old form of slavery at least benefited the slave master at the expense of the slave. This new form steals from the slave and makes the recipient dependant on the state as the enforcer. So everyone loses, with the possible exception of the political class. They gain the one thing they value above all else; power.
    You have well answered my “how did we get here?” question; so I’ll ask the next, obvious one. How do get out of here? Will it take another revolution, since none of the current political entities seem to want to change the underlying problem? I’m thinking the solution of just quitting the system, in the model of “Atlas Shrugged” is the only way we can defend our own interests.

  12. ForHsuth, I am going to change the subject but has the shelf life of the Hsu story expired? Anyone remember that today is the day he is going to be arraigned? Google Hsu and contrast the number of stories that are listed for him as contrasted for O.J. His spokesman (Booth) says that he intended to show up for his California hearing (does this mean they give him the $2,000,000. back?) Said because Hsu was sick and confused he got on Amtrac (sleeper car yet, how many of those are on the California transit railroad?) instead of the Cal transit. Does everyone who accidently gets on Amtrac send a suicide letter? (I was on Amtrac once when a boyfriend said a lingering goodby to his girlfriend and accidently went from Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction but I think he sent a thank-you note to the conductor) But the thing that really sticks in my craw is this headline “Clinton Campaign VICTIM of a Flawed Background Check” (emphasis mine) It is up to us to keep this story from sinking behind the O.J.mess. Sorry for not sticking to subject.

  13. I can’t say I disagree with Michael Smith.
    There’s been a change of rhetoric.
    Civilization is supposed to be a place where you stop the shoplifter, “hey, you, why are you stealing that cheese?”
    Leftist autocracy is where the shoplifter answers, “because I’m making macaroni & cheese for lunch.”
    Stealing itself is no longer objected to. It is sufficient merely to state the reasons for your action. If you can establish that some benefit is gained from your act, you win.
    We ceded the traditional rules of moral debate to leftists decades ago. Questions of principle are answered strictly within the framework of whether some proposal gives the most benefit to the greatest number.
    The inherent virtue of public versus private ownership, or social security, or whatever, doesn’t occur to the leftist. And the effect is degrading. It’s a view of mankind that sees us as hedonists looking for the best net deal. Many libertarians sympathise with this view. But as a mathematician, I have to point out that the objective function which maximizes the greatest pleasure for all has nothing to do with health care or education; the objective function can be readily optimized by the Woody Allen proposal: hook us all up to orgasmatrons and be done with it.

  14. I’d like to know how “success” was measured here. If I’m going to put my hard earned tax dollars behind something, I want that something to be successful.
    Hopefully success is measured through standard tests, which measure performance against a standard curriculum. Schools are welcome to add value to the standard curriculum, but getting their students proficient in such a curriculum should be the minimum expectation of any school.
    The big thing No Child Left Behind brought was a yardstick we parents can use to measure the actual performance of schools. There are legitimate grievances against No Child’s mandate of continuous improvement (one must assume that improvement has an upper limit, and that the rate of improvement decreases as we approach that limit, something No Child doesn’t take into account). But the requirement that every child be tested against a standard curriculum gives both us and the school a means of
    a) Identifying problem areas in the school and its population, and
    b) Identifying problems in the child.
    I’m a voucher guy. But I don’t believe in giving out vouchers just to provide a marketplace of marginal schools (whose marginality may not be apparent in the absence of measurement).

  15. Maybe I’m having a bad day, but I think the captain read the story wrong, in one little part. the captain said:
    “The second replaced the money for public schools that was lost when a student used the vouchers.”
    The story actually says: “The second was a funding change that raised the amount of money public schools lost when a student left the school via a voucher.”
    I read that as they took more money AWAY from the schools, not gave more back. That would have made it more important for the schools to change, so they kept more students and hence more funds.

  16. Here’s a basic civics quiz that only 66% of Harvard Seniors were able to pass (and they led the list of college seniors):
    http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx
    I took it quickly and received an 86%.
    Just what are kids being taught in school today, besides sex education and “An Inconvenient Truth”?
    And my relatively small school district spent $500 million last year.
    Why are the Democrats, who are somehow experts on health care, content to maintain the status quo on our disaster of an “education” system?

  17. Interesting little quiz, NoDonkey. Scored a 91.67. I question the wording of some of the questions, but overall, and excellent guage of the basic fundamentals of our history and government.
    What I found to be good about it is that it addressed all levels of civics, not just the rote memorization of names and places that were earmarks of my earliest education, and seem to be earmarks of my youngest child’s most recent State Board Proficiency Exams.
    I am going to pass this along to a close friend with the local high school. Just to guage the learning level of high school seniors in his classes.
    I’d bet most of us here would find portions of it requiring some deep thought or at least some “educated” guess work. Ther ewere a couple questions where I did make an educated guess. Theses seem to be the ones I got wrong, too. Oh, well.
    As for Hillary…oh, where to start.
    Incentives. That’s the key. Under the present education rubric where are the incentives? No, not for the districts, the more who pass the tests the more money they get, but the students AND the teachers?
    It isn’t about new expensive education palaces springing up all across the land, or about Administrations and professional administrators, but it IS all about the kids…and what about us they will be able to pass along to their children as a society and individually.
    Without incentives/and disincentives for the teachers to push for the higher plane, to prompt and guide the kids to excell, to push beyond the easily possible, human nature gets to take command, and the least common denominator becomes the most common denominator. We dumb things down over time.
    Good teachers should be amply rewarded. Teachers who cannot pass the same tests they give out to the kids with at or near 99% marks should be removed from the classroom or made to do remedial training before re-entering the classroom and inflicting their ignorance on our kids.
    Is this possible in schools as most exist here in the States? Not likely.
    The NEA and other unions are more interested in increasiong wages and benefits for the teachers than they are in any way interested in the achievement of kids to be able to function well in society, to retain and grow knowledge of who we are, how we got here and where we are going, to be able to communicate effectively and to be able to pass along cultural and historic, scientific and mathmatical understanding to their own kids, and each successive generation.
    Our public schools are broken. Unfortunately, MOST parents of kids in those schools never learned the basics because the basics were not the focus of their teachers. Thus, they are hostage as well as their kids to the present cast in stone public school system that is firmly under control of the NEA and other teachers unions.
    Privatization of schools, where their ability to soar or crash in flames depends on their ability to teach, impart knowledge, exact high standards of their charges, is the only logical and proven way to get schools to excel. Such has worked successfully in all sorts of walks of life over the past century or longer. Schools, public schools, are not sacrosanct. They must be accountable at all levels.
    Good schools promote good teachers. Fair to middlin’ schools produce fair to poor teachers.
    Good schools graduate young men and women who will take charge after we are gone and make it work. Poor schools graduate a lifetime of dependency for those who were unfortunate enough to be held hostage to them.
    Privitization, breaking the current static model of education, therin lies our best hope.

  18. “The NEA and other unions are more interested in increasing wages and benefits for the teachers than they are in any way interested in the achievement of kids”
    That is the problem. And the unions lead the Democrat Party about by the nose, so anyone thinking that the Democrats are the solution, is sadly mistaken.
    I’ve actually been a little encouraged by what is going on in DC. Mayor Fenty hired a new superintendent, and she actually seems to have some intention of solving at least some of the problems.
    In this year’s disaster du jour, the DC schools spent millions of dollars on textbooks for the children, only to completely screw up the distribution. As a result, a good many children were without textbooks at the start of school.
    And DC spends over $10,000 per pupil, per year, so it’s not a question of money.
    The new superintendent actually investigated this FUBAR. She questioned some of the employees there, most of who responded to her question “what is your job here”, said, “I do what so-and-so tells me to do”.
    She concluded – “I don’t think that hiring additional employees is the answer”.
    So there’s hope. If this woman and Mayor Fenty can improve DC public schools (a big IF), maybe they can launch themselves into the national spotlight.
    While I do believe Republicans have far better ideas as far as public schools are concerned, the bleak reality is that the voters trust the Democrats. So unless the absolutely worthless Democrat Party starts to improve things, we’ll be having this same discussion in perpetuity.

  19. my family was all (except for myself and one uncle) “educators”.
    they were involved in teaching and administration during the period when the national education association came to ascendancy. the ones who were in administration predicted (in the 1960’s)many of the things that we see now in the school systems.
    two things i remember in particular were the loss of the ability to terminate incompetent staff and the politicization of education at the state and federal level. (they thought that education being political at the local level (subject to the accreditation requirements of the time) was totally appropriate as at the time it was the locals paying the bills).
    the business of classroom size reduction was a fond dream at the time, however single teachers with 45 or more students in a single room were at the time producing students that could pass the current evaluation tests with ease.
    i went into manufacturing as a lifes work. as a part of that i notice that the current school programs do not seem to have any “quality assurance” systems/programs of any kind and when these are proposed the teachers unions scream bloody murder in resistance. nor is there any system of responsibility/accountability.
    for example a machinist makes a bolt that is to be used holding a jet engine onto the wing of an aircraft. ten years later the engine falls off quite spectacularly. within hours the feds have dug the broken bolt out of the wreckage, traced the company that made it, examined the material compared to the print specification and if the man is still working there asked him just what he was doing that day. (if he is working somewhere else they make a really good try to find him and talk to him) under certain circumstances the owner of the business might be charged in court.
    if one of the studddddentz just happens to go out and massacre half of upper north dakota all you get from the school system is “to bad so sad, he graduated thirty minutes ago and we havn’t seen him since.
    if we can do quality assurance/tracability and certification in industry for parts and assemblies that run ~$100 and more than why can’t we do the same with kids (a product that costs ~$150,000 [12 yrs @ $12,000 plus benefits]).
    C

  20. no donkey:
    textbood distribution is alwayse a goatf&*k. the books have to be ordered sometime in the dead of winter which means that the head office needs to be hitting it pretty hard towards the end of december on the class size estimates.
    the books normally come in in july/august.
    “somebody has to unpack and count and check to see if thats just what they actually ordered, then mark the piles as to just where they go.
    then some young huskies have to actually take the books to the classroom where the class will be taught.
    then on opening day we see that we have a few new students that we didn’t expect. hopefully they will roughly equal the number that didn’t show up because they moved away.
    every year an emergency order to the publishers has to be done. hopefully it is small.
    this is one of those things that a smart individual can handle quite easily (really needs to be a bean counter type) with the use of a personal computer.
    and seeing as how schools put a premium on their employees being educated and certified and degree’d etc. etc. etc. it shouldn’t be a problem. right?
    riiiiiight.
    this is one of those things that administration really needs to pay attention to as it can blow up in their faces. the washington dc instance is simply a larger, but not record breaking, example of this work.
    C

  21. pk,
    Thanks for the info. Makes it clearer.
    Seems to me, this should be a repeatable process. This must be done every year. And it was done long before we had computers, presumably.
    “and seeing as how schools put a premium on their employees being educated and certified and degree’d etc. etc. etc. it shouldn’t be a problem. right?”
    I’m sure they’re certified in some archaic, theoretical, educrat training that is of no use to any thinking human being. But they got their job through some patronage scheme and probably slept through whatever sham of a training session that occurred, but they got a certificate.
    And even if they can’t read it, they’ll hold onto their jobs until retirement and then collect a nice pension.
    I really can’t understand where all of our education dollars go . . . God forbid these same people run our health care system, but rest assured, it’s going that way.
    Government jobs for incompetent idiots. It’s the Democrat way.

  22. no donkey:
    my dad did it (didn’t drive the forklift or the truck) at the schools where he was superintendant, (montana schools with ~2000 students) it was that important.
    he used a tan folder with lots of paper and invoices.
    course it was 1935-1965 also.
    C

  23. Having pulled my 11 year old out of the public school last year, I can tell you that even a small, rural, CONSERVATIVE district with extremely involved parents has trouble dealing with the teachers’ union and state mandates. For example, my district, with less than 1000 students, has a full-time social worker AND a part-time psychiatrist. That doesn’t have much to do with the quality of the education the vast majority of 950 students are receiving.
    At the last school board meeting I attended, tedious events though they are, the main concern of the parents attending was the potential budget cut of a “late” bus that drove the children home after athletic practice. No one cared that the high school math teacher was brand new and fairly incompetent. No one cared that a local college was trying to arrange a trade of services (use of high school athletic facilities for HS students ability to attend college classes).
    You truly get what you ask for in the education field. I do believe that the failure of public schools has much to do with the laziness of people to take on bureaucracy, and is also why our political system is such a disaster. Everyone has learned to ask, “What’s in it for me and mine?” instead of asking how to give up the conveniences to which everyone feels entitled. When parents descended en masse upon the school board to demand that late bus instead of accelerated curriculum, I realized that I was in the minority and it was time to bail on the system.

  24. This reminds me of the recent Wall Street Journal editorial (Aug. 29th) saying the NEA gave $3 million to Utah’s teacher unions to fight vouchers in Utah (on the ballot Nov. 6). Obviously, the national Democrats and politicians care a lot about not letting us parents choose. It’s all about power and control and campaign contributions, and we here in Utah just want parents to get back our rights to choose a quality education that reflects our values, not the NEA’s.
    Every child should have access to good schools, not just the rich, because we all benefit from an educated population, and it’s cheaper to pay for good K-12 than prisons, welfare, and general uneducated people later on. See this recent study:
    http://www.cbcse.org/pages/posts/boosting-high-school-graduation-rates-would-save-u.s.-127000-per-new-graduate-researchers-find3.php
    This new Milwaukee study, talked about in the New York Sun shows that competition and the free market works, which just makes sense.

  25. My thoughts: I think Hillary wants out of the candidacy. Why else would she dredge up the healthcare nonsense again and state “you might have to show proof of insurance for employment”?
    Second point, Bill says to Jon Stewart “I might have to slit my throat” when confronted with being a First Husband. Hmm, sounds like they are a couple of sound bites away from just giving up. Must be a whole lot of fire with Hsu…
    K in MN

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