This is the notion that’s been suggested a couple of blogs I quietly keep an eye on. According to them, the Department of Education is unconstitutional. Because it is unconstitutional, it is therefore bad. One of them proposes that the rich be required to fund a system of private education. Imagine Trump, Musk, Bezos and Zuckerberg, among others, paying for the schooling of young minds.
As far as I’m aware, entrusting the rich to develop an education system around education and not profit would be next to impossible, assuming you could even convince them to do so. I mean, it’s not like there are numerous examples of privatised sectors focusing on money over service… except for several very obvious examples. Can you imagine Trump of all people, funding an education system that was impartial, that didn’t cut corners, and that he couldn’t make a huge profit out of? The same goes for the likes of Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg etc. None of them are going to want to get involved, at least, not unless they control the narrative. Can you imagine them offering history lessons that remotely reflect reality? Trump certainly wouldn’t.
How would you get them to do it? Through taxation? That would be interesting, for taxing the rich to help the working class sounds like a move to socialism, or the start of it. Many of the proponents of having the super-rich help fund education are diehard conservatives, so surely this jars with their usual social-economic ideals? Through charitable donations? What, you think Bezos will invest in such a project, out of the goodness of his heart?
Run a school like a business? How is the average American going to afford any extra cost? It doesn’t matter if it’s only another $5,000 a year, that money has to come from somewhere. Are Trump, Musk et al going to subsidise this enterprise for very long? Because they’d have to, and they will resist doing anything that eats into their huge reserves of money. Are we going to introduce shareholding into this? Shares won’t mean anything, a school obsessed with staying solvent will cut costs and corners, unless it’s an affluent, established, rich-kids school, where the parents can comfortably afford the fees.
One of these individuals wants to scrap unionisation of teachers. That’s a bad idea. It opens the door to all kinds of unpleasantries. Without unions, the ‘shareholders’ (aka students) will be able to arbitrarily remove any teacher they want, for any reason they want. ‘That teacher gave me an F, I want them gone!’
They also talk about school meals, and about having restaurants help prepare them. How would this be enforced/encouraged? These restaurants won’t provide a damn thing without an incentive. It will cost them time and money, and those costs will get passed to the school, and in turn, to the parents paying. Plus, food costs can fluctuate quite a lot. What happens when ingredients go up 10%? Will the parents cover the cost of this, or will Zuckerberg dip into his pockets to pay? Hmm…
However, let’s return to the beginning. Is the Department of Education unconstitutional, and if so, is this automatically a bad thing?
Regarding the first question, I don’t know. There are people who would argue for and against the position, and I do not know enough of that element of the Constitution to form a judgement. On the second question, I would answer no. The Constitution is not infallible.
Government involvement in education has yielded what many consider to be the best education system in the world. Finland is widely regarded as the best system, and education is free at the point of service. Japan combines free-at-point-of-service education with private higher education, and is also considered one of the best education systems in the world. Korea also offers free education, and is, like Japan and Finland, considered one of the best systems in the world. The Danish system ranks very highly, and is also largely free at point of delivery.
All these education systems have some form of government funding. All are systems regarded as exceptional. It’s overly simplistic to say that being public services, they are automatically superior to private schooling (which exists alongside state schools in a lot of places, and also receives state funds to a degree, in some places), however, there is little evidence to support treating schools as businesses, instead of places of learning. There would be huge inconsistencies of curriculums, and quality. There’s no way it doesn’t cost people more money.