Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?

Parents send their children to public schools throughout the United States, to school districts funded by taxation. Most of the tax revenue comes through property and income taxes, which are funded through a combination of local tax levies, as well as state and federal tax dollars. Public school districts are governed by local school boards, state school boards, combined with various state and federal regulations.

Read “Tackling public education reform: thinking outside the box”, Brenner’s follow-up to “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?”, by clicking here.

Socialism, defined on Wikipedia, “is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy.” That seems to summarize our primary education system. Public education in America is socialism. It is owned and cooperatively managed by the public. Yes, there is school choice, but most parents have to enter “lotteries” in order to apply for taxpayer funds so that their kids have the privilege of being able to go to an alternative school. 

It is interesting that tea party members will attack Obama-care relentlessly as a socialist system that brings about mediocrity and failure, and also blame Common Core for all of the problems in our education system because they are concerned that it will become centralized. However, they rarely (if ever) bring up the fact that our public education system is already a socialist system. and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country. While one room school houses (which were also used in many cases as houses of worship) worked well 100 years ago when most students graduated by the 7th grade, the same system does not work well today.

Before tea party members start yelling at their screens, let me give you another reason to scream… teachers unions. Teachers unions are an outgrowth of our socialistic education system. Over 40 years ago, public school teachers felt like their ideas were not being listened to, that their pay was inadequate, and that classroom sizes were not appropriate; so they unionized against the bureaucratic machine known as our public education system.

One could argue that things improved temporarily, but their own unions became bureaucratic and they started to take the place of school boards and school management. Unions managed to negotiate everything from standardizing their pay and benefits, to school sizes, school hours, the number of teacher workdays and even the time and place of breaks. I’m not blaming the teachers unions or the local school boards who are bound to the contracts, because if they don’t they will end up with strikes and an arbitrator will rule against them. These issues all stemmed from the fact that we have a socialist education system in the first place.

Whether it is here in Ohio, or in other states such as Texas, the education system is predominantly controlled by government planning. It has to be. It is owned by we the public. Governors like Mike Huckabee (who is now being criticized for Common Core) tried to deal with the existing socialist education system by placing a minimum floor for standards, Common Core, which was designed to raise standards and hold teachers unions accountable. People like Billionaire Bill Gates, who is now being called a corporatist, wanted to improve our system because he could not find any qualified Americans to employ at Microsoft.

Without Common Core in place, public schools still have high drop out rates, there are high remediation rates for kids going to college, and student tests are dumbed down. Huckabee, along with most governors, saw a system failing our students, which was controlled by teachers unions and government bureaucracy. How else can the use of our tax dollars be measured and people held accountable if we do not have a system of checks and balances? How can you measure the performance of our students and teachers if there isn’t a standardized set of tests and curriculum? How do you stretch tax dollars and make them more efficient in a socialist system? Central planning here we come.

So how do we improve our education system so students learn the basics, and learn how to think? The only long-run solution is to move to a more privatized system. We must move to a system where the tax dollars follow the student to whichever school they choose. We do this through scholarships and Pell Grants for college students, why not primary education? A system where the parents and students have the ultimate say, not state and federal legislators, not unions, not government bureaucrats. In a free market system parents and students are free to go where the product and results are better. Common core and standardized tests under such a system will not be necessary, because the schools that fail will go out of business. Government will not be there to prop them up with more tax dollars and increased regulations. Successful schools will thrive. The free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education, so why can’t it work for our primary education system?

We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector. The private sector includes our existing teachers, superintendents, management and everyday taxpayers. It will not be an easy transition and it will take open-minded people who want successful students, not those who want to fight turf wars and a hanging on of a failed system. Society should at least start with some of the worst school systems. Bust up the education monopolies and do not settle for the lowest common denominator. Privatize everything and the results will speak for themselves.

Read “Tackling public education reform: thinking outside the box”, Brenner’s follow-up to “Public education in America is socialism, what is the solution?”, by clicking here.

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Andrew Brenner

Andrew Brenner

Contributor at Brenner Brief News
Andrew O. Brenner is a conservative, Republican state representative in Ohio. Elected in 2010 after serving as county recorder since 2005, Brenner is vice-chair of the Ohio House Education Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions / Housing / Urban Development Committee, Policy & Oversight Committee, and Rules & Reference.


The opinions and/or statements made are not endorsed by anyone except the author. Brenner Brief News and its leadership are not responsible for what the independent writer has said. Contact us if you have any concerns. Civil dialogue is also welcomed below.

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  • SMBrenner

    This story was written in response to some of the comments below, and is by Andrew Brenner.

  • SMBrenner

    This story is in response to some of the comments before, written by Andrew Brenner.

  • Andrew Brenner

    I will be doing a follow-up post this week. I am sure most of you will agree with many of my suggestions. It is my hope that some of this discussion will be fruitful and not have more name calling.

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  • SMBrenner

    Please remember, our DISCLAIMER explains that comments which personally attack an individual will be marked as spam. Repeated abusers of this policy will be banned. If you cannot engage in civil discussion, go elsewhere.

    • Kevin S. Wilson

      You misplet “my husband.”

  • wiredpup

    You sir (and I use that term loosely) are an idiot.

  • Maya Bohnhoff

    To this proposal: “Public education is socialism. What’s the solution?” I have to ask: What’s the problem? Socialism isn’t a problem. It’s an attempt to address a problem of inequality.

  • Maya Bohnhoff

    There are a number of interesting things about this article. One is that it makes a blatant bid to associate our public educational system with, not socialism per se, but with Soviet Communism. The two are not the same thing as is evidenced by the fact that Mr. Brenner shows awareness that our educational system has been “socialistic” since the founding of the country. The original US flag, then would have been a more accurate symbol of this than the Soviet hammer and sickle. The virtue of the Soviet symbol is that it is scary.

    Second: what he’s proposing does for education what Obamacare does for health care. Parents who wish to educate their children presumably get tax cuts or a tax rebate or scholarships (which I assume is what he means by “the tax dollars will follow the student to whichever school they choose”). Not only is it a model similar to the ACA, but isn’t it still socialistic? Offering scholarships or rebates or tax breaks is still a redistribution of wealth.

    Mr. Brenner says that in a free market system “successful” schools will thrive, and further: “The free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education, so why can’t it work for our primary education system?”

    Where do I start? First, there are many ways a school can fail. Let’s consider two. It can fail to make money. It can fail to educate. A school that teaches state of the art science would fail in some areas because the parents of the children in the area believe that science is—to quote another elected representative—”lies straight from the pit of hell”. If the parents don’t like that curriculum, they will withdraw financial support and the school will die, despite any academic excellence. Conversely, these same parents might send their children and money to a school whose academics are poor, but whose world view is like their own. So, while the school would thrive financially because parents with that world view would pay for it to thrive, it would fail to educate.

    Finally, let’s follow Mr. Brenner’s suggestion and look at how free enterprise treats certain areas now. Education is intellectual food; let’s look at physical food. Right now, the free market has created a situation in which families living in poor neighborhoods—no matter where they are—find it difficult to get healthy food. There’s a 7/11 on every corner, but the affordable food is junk. If you’ve ever wondered why so many poor people are obese, wonder no longer. They live in food deserts because companies do not want to put their markets (or restaurants, or other businesses) in poor neighborhoods.

    By what miracle does Mr. Brenner suppose that the education deserts we already have in these areas will not get much worse if the attraction to commercial schools is monetary?

    Food for thought.

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  • elfishpenguin

    Firstly, why limit this to privatizing education? Why not privatize the military? Privatize the police force? As we have seen with the rise of privatized prisons, these institutions are only more economically “efficient” in that they cut safety measures for their guards, cut training for their guards, cut precautions for the incarcerated population – like placing people who’ve committed non-violent crimes in with the most dangerous of people, cut hygiene and medical measures, and the list goes on. Plenty of this can be read easily in any book on the topic or through reading articles and case dockets on the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center site. What measures would ensure that under a privatized system of education, there would not be similar issues? Secondly, as someone who has worked as a teacher, and as both of my parents are teachers, I’ve seen the disastrous results of the business model of schools in NYC. I taught in a middle school that basically had the children who were sadly referred to as “the leftovers,” the kids whose parents didn’t know enough or care enough to go through the procedures to enter their children into application systems. We had the poorest and most violent kids, and so what would happen? Well of course our school would score lower on standardized exams, so we would have less funding, in addition to already having very little funding due to being in one of the poorest congressional districts of the U.S. “Competition!” This would, of course, continue to generate a downward cycle for our budgets and for the students. I had to buy my own ink for the printers, as one marginal example. With teacher salaries, at least in NYC, coming from school budgets, this basically means that the poorest schools, if not all schools except those already “at the top” with that reputation to maintain, want to hire a cheap, rotating labor force (aka union busting) – so they hire us AmeriCorps and TFA types instead of people who’ve made teaching a career, further disadvantaging these already disadvantaged students by placing the most neediest of children with those least qualified to help them. Taking steps to “privatize” education only reinforces a social hierarchy as opposed to providing opportunity and mobility for all. Some of the true ways to help our children would be to increase teachers salary (imagine if our brightest college graduates actually wanted to go into teaching! But none of us do, when we can, for example, get into top law schools and work in BigLaw for a bit instead), or if we stopped relying so much on property taxes for school funding and resolved to fund our schools equally or provide more funding to the poorest so that our most disadvantaged had equal opportunity, or if we had longer school days and upped our curriculum to include things like economics, philosophy, psychology, literature, etc. There is really quite a lot that we could be doing to help with education in this nation, “privatizing” would, as best, “privatize the profits, socialize the debts.” Although the history of “privatization” rhetoric and politicking in the U.S. has basically been one of a reactionary stance against basic issues in civil rights and liberties. I suggest you check out this article from the UCLA Women’s Law Journal – while it’s speaking specifically about feminist history in the public/private divide in conjunction with Citizens United, the analysis of the concept of privatization as a tool to avoid civil procedure and the basic protections of democracy while legitimizing discrimination and exploitation is pretty spot on.

  • elfishpenguin

    “Ought the public, therefore, to give no attention, it may be asked, to the education of the people?…

    In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far
    greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of
    the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations,
    frequently to one or two…The torpor of his mind renders him not only
    incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation,
    but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and
    consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the
    ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of
    his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very
    particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally
    incapable of defending his country in war…It corrupts even the activity
    of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with
    vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he
    has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this
    manner, to be acquired at the expense of his intellectual, social, and
    martial virtues.

    But in every improved and civilised society this is the state into which
    the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must
    necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.”

    – Adam Smith (Founder of socialism, clearly. Oh, wait…) (Though, I realize that for someone who understands political economy from an opening paragraph on Wikipedia, this might qualify as “TL;DR.”)

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  • george

    Please promise me you will loudly and repeatedly tell everyone you can that this is what you and your Republican colleagues want to do with our public institutions. Seriously, go on Fox and CNN, write to the NY Times, WaPo, etc. Hit every media organization you can. That will make us democrats VERY happy!
    Thank you.

  • Kyle Hagner

    This is a fantastic idea. I look forward to the day when public schools function the way that internet service does, where the product is more expensive and of lower quality than in other nations, but the consumer has no alternative because all competing schools were bought out by the only one left in town.

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  • spazz611

    You subject matter is Socialism and you put up the hammer and sickle. You don’t know the difference between Socialism and Communism so I must assume you don’t know what you’re talking about. Better close down Ohio State University–no more football. See how that goes over with your constituents you dipwad.

  • Telchar Bladesmith

    This man is an embarrassment to the State of Ohio and humanity in general.

    According to his own bio above, he is vice-chair of the Ohio House Education Committee.

    He is blabbering off at the mouth about the “supposed evils” of our public schools being socialism…..

    But yet HE is the vice-chair of the Ohio Education Committee in our legislature.

    So he is the vice-chair of the committee that CONTROLS the “socialist” public school system.
    The irony is stifling.

    Wonder if “socialism” is evil enough that Mr. Brenner would resign as vice-chair of a “socialist” organization??? My bet is that he likes the extra money he rakes in for being on that committee more than his supposed aversion to the “socialist” public school system. .

    Mr. Brenner, you are a disgrace to the honor of your office and should immediately resign from your “socialist” vice-chair committee in shame, lest your cancerous propaganda metastasize to anything that might effect our children.

  • K. Orth

    This man as the IQ of 12 and the manhood of 0. If you are not aware of
    the plight of Ohio, need I remind you that the woes are induced by
    nothing but Republicans selling out to Corporations and for profit. If
    you think for one moment that the Republican/Tea party of Ohio has
    vested interest in your youth and well being you are sorrily mistaken.

    • Sage Parsely

      How can you comment on someone’s I.Q. when you can’t even spell? It’s SORELY not sorrily. You’re so wrapped up in political affiliation, you can’t see logic.

      • tim

        It’s actually the adverb form of the adjective sorry, which you can find in standard english references.

      • artemis

        That old saying “when you point a finger, three point back at you?” As Tim pointed out, you’re the one looking ignorant.

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  • mikek44224

    “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” -John Adams

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  • kcwookie

    The government, like the schools are owned by the people. If a school districts is privatized, who gets the money? It should be returned to the taxpayers. Along this line, since we also own the government, how much should we sell seats in Congress for? We could probably retire the country’s debt if we just sold off our representative’s seats to the highest bidder. It’s not they are being used for our good anyway.

    • elfishpenguin

      We already have this, as legitimized through SCOTUS upholding the Orwellian doublespeak-sounding “Citizens United.” Welcome to America, Inc.

  • Anne Tenaglia

    Really? Are you serious? By your definition then, police, fire, national disaster groups, libraries, etc. are socialism and need to be privatized? Methinks you spoke too soon and too much. ^0^

    • George Cahill

      Actually, yes, all of the things you listed are, by definition, “socialism”. But no, we don’t need to privatize them. The fundamental mistake in this column is equating “socialism” with “bad”. Socialism is not, in itself, a bad thing. In fact, it is the preferred method of providing a public service of any kind. If society, as a whole, will benefit from the service, then society, as a whole, should fund the service’s existence. That’s axiomatic.

      Putting something as fundamental as education in the hands of private industry will contort the reason and purpose of education. “High School by Microsoft” might churn out a lot of little programmers, but since Microsoft doesn’t have much use for Art Historians, how much attention with that high school pay to the humanities?

      And that’s what the libertarian privatizers fail to recognize. Any corporation that gets involved in private education will have its own agenda. It will want to skew the curriculum towards its own ends. And that’s not good for society as a whole.

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  • Mottleydude

    Wow…..Maybe Mr. Brenner you ought to consider moving to Alabama or Mississippi where they share you values, or should I say lack there of, for education. You certainly don’t espouse traditional and historical egalitarian Ohio values. It’s a good thing you studied business in college as I doubt you have the critical thinking skills to make in any of the science fields or fields that require critical thinking skills. First, your argument is based on a false assumption. That socialism is ALWAYS bad and that laissez-faire capitalism is always good. The fasts are these Mr. Brenner. Laissez-faire capitalism is a socio-economic system every bit as much a failed socioeconomic system as communism. It’s artificial redistribution of wealth upwards creates both economic and political destabilization via repetitive boom and bust cycles. Maybe you skipped class the day they pointed that out in economics 101? Socialism, however, isn’t always the evil boogey-man you try to portray it as. Historically this nation has never had a problem using socialism to promote the public good WHEN THE MARKET FAILS to provide the public needed services!! Now, if you have stopped even for a few seconds to consider why public education was implemented in this State in the first place you may have noted the very obvious fact that it is because THE MARKET FAILED to be able to provide a sound, quality, universal education for the public of this great State. So the FACTS are Mr. Brenner, that there is a time and a place for socialism. For example, do you think it would be wise to privatize our system of national defense of a cost benefit basis? Do you think it would be possible to have constructed our public infrastructure without social institutions to share the costs and the benefits and if so why wasn’t it ever done by the private business sector?
    Sir what you are advocating is a self fulfilling prophecy for failed education in this State All one needs to do is look at the horrible record of financial and educational failure of the Charter schools in Ohio. All one needs to do is to look at the ideas you advocate and see the results of those exact same policies in Southern States. You can’t be serious that you would be willing to reduce our public education down to their third world standards based on your partisan political ideology. What you’re not accounting for is that when a private school fails it leaves the students in fails with no recourse and it shunts the costs of those failure onto us, the taxpayers AND NOT THE MARKET!
    You may be a union hating pro business southern conservative who despises public investment in our communities and schools but I for one cherish my Ohio values and I’ve lived around this nation and I’ve seen first hand the devastation your type of thoughtless right wing southern ideology has done to communities and public education around this nation. It’s a prime example of why we have public unions for educators. To protect them from neophyte political ideologues like you who, to put it bluntly, don’t know what they are doing.

    • Carrie Lynn F. Mitchell

      Please, don’t send him to MS! We have enough battles to fight as it is!

      • Mottleydude

        LOL Yes Ms. Carrie…we’ll endever not to export our local nuts! :)

  • VikingRN

    The single greatest predictor of poor health and educational attainment is poverty.

  • SnarkMaster

    While you are busy dismantling your party, don’t forget the single largest bastion of socialism in the USA – the US Armed Forces!

  • RichardandJan Bawol

    You need to get yourself re-educated. Or see a good shrink whom might be able to explain things to you!!

  • TYCapitalism

    It looks like Mr. Brenner pissed off the Daily Kos crowd.

  • SeanRobinson

    Citing from wikipedia is pretty embarrassing.

    • TYCapitalism

      Not when defining words.

      • SeanRobinson

        Umm, no, it is still really embarrassing. Its the kind of thing that loses you a grade on a freshman paper.

    • elfishpenguin

      I’m sure he has better resources and has had a better education than wikipedia. However, by opening a statement with wikipedia, it sounds like he assumes that his constituents and readers are not very bright. As someone who used to be a teacher, one of the first things we learned is the importance of “high expectations,” – that if you treat your students like they are smart and capable, they will rise to meet the challenge. More often than not, that is true. If you start off an essay with wikipedia, what are your expectations of your voters and readers? How much do you believe in their intellect and their abilities? It’s like either he thinks lowly of those who would be reading this, or he just doesn’t want them to think too much about the matter, doesn’t want them to “rise and meet the challenge.”

  • Imagine2

    Well he is either proof of the failure of the public education system or a cautionary tale of what can happen with the private model. In either case, I shudder for the children of Ohio and beyond.

    If you want to consider what may happen with a private model, look at the voucher system in Louisiana –

    • rose1957

      Bingo! The good citizens of Louisiana are forced to pay for school vouchers so children can be taught that dinosaurs roamed the earth with early humans and that the Loch Ness Monster is proof that evolution is a lie.

  • EDG

    You’re conveniently omitting the part where the free-market school fails and those kids are then actually left behind when there’s no other sponsored charter in their neighborhood to take in the displaced kids. This is happening in Indianapolis where charters are failing and there aren’t enough credible institutions to fill the gap. Plus, the average middle class parent doesn’t have time to essentially manage the entire K-12 career of their child, shifting them from charter to charter in addition to working and raising them. Sometimes structure is ok, I’ll be waiting on your next rant against ODOT and socialized transportation. Cheers!

  • John Joergensen

    Ok, so the Vice Chair of the Ohio legislature’s Education Committee has no clue that the CONSTITUTION OF OHIO (article 6, section 2) mandates a thorough and efficient system of public education in that state. Or, is the constitution itself socialist? Yikes!

    • rose1957

      The US Constitution is, so why not? It’s in the preamble: the nation is to “promote the general welfare of the people”–it’s called a SOCIAL CONTRACT.

  • billyfd

    Where do you even start with someone who can write something so utterly stupid?? A true modern day Know Nothing. I weep for my country………

  • Lisa Viger is Raw on $10 a Day

    Yes, public education is socialism. Public education is good. Socialism is good. We need more of both. Perhaps, with more socialized education, we’d have fewer buffoons such as yourself …

  • Lafollette

    Whatever teacher told you two nincompoops that you should have self-esteem was wrong. You’re too stupid to live.

  • SnarkMaster

    Your definition assumes the entire economy, not each sector within it. Among the other individual sectors which are socialist: the legislature itself, your office/staff/salary, most prisons, most jails, police, fire fighters, the department of transportation, etc. Your stated rationale should make you an anarchist, but you instead single out an institution where the direct beneficiaries are (currently) disenfranchised. That makes it seem far more about power or public corruption (the distribution of resources to private institutions will surely be corrupt in its implementation).
    There has never been a fully socialist or fully capitalist economy, but there are lots of places to draw the line. Education has generally fallen on the socialized side over the past couple of centuries because it creates obvious secondary benefits to society, and rational, individual profit maximizers would obvious try to serve those well prepared for school (well to do families, etc) and leave the less-profitable students for charity.
    But, if you still aim to persuade your political party to sacrifice the rest of their agenda by siding against 95% of the US population on this question, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor!

  • Adam Goldberg

    The solution seems to be that the author needs more education.

  • Mike Hawk

    You are a complete loon. Nothing here warrants serious, engaged discussion. You should be roundly mocked as a fool, in public, by children. People should point at you and make primitive hooting sounds.

    My work is through here.

    • Lisa Viger is Raw on $10 a Day

      Well stated, Mr. Hawk.

  • Jack

    You do know that the hammer-and-sickle emblem is a Communist logo and Socialism isn’t the same as Communism, right? Didn’t think so. And you’re on the Education Committee.

  • Kenny

    Part of Koch Brothers, Fox News, Libertarian, 1% master plan to further dumb down America and not allow future generations to compete in the global marketplace.

  • poli-sy

    Why did you put a hammer and sickle at the top of your post? Because socialism is communism?

    This is the kind of shallow, vapid analysis that passes for political thought on the right. You should be embarrassed.

  • Steve Howell

    Brenner successfully avoids the most stirring issue in public education – the inequity of funding our public schools. The Supreme Court has decided that Ohio’s method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, and yet, we can’t seem to move toward a more equitable distribution. This, of course, is not surprising, since those families in more affluent communities live in those communities so that their children can go to public schools with higher success rates.

    Brenner’s attack and approach is a standard one, one which David Sirota describes this way:

    “it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public educationsystem is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.). Likewise, for conservativepoliticians and activist-profiteers disproportionately bankrolled by these and other monied interests, the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.”

    Brenner also suggest that we have no accountability: “How else can the use of our tax dollars be measured and people held accountable if we do not have a system of checks and balances? How can you measure the performance of our students and teachers if there isn’t a standardized set of tests and curriculum?”

    The fact is that we do have a system of checks and balances and we do use standardized tests to assess students. Mr. Brenner might be unaware that, for many schools, this is the week in which the Ohio Graduation Tests are administered – a “standardized test” that measures our students’ performance. Further, in all of my 19 years of public school teaching I have been held accountable by board adopted teacher evaluation/observation cycles, submissions of lesson plans, alignment of my curriculum to current state standards, continuing education, informal/unannounced administrative walk throughs, and so on.

    Further, there is a distinct and troubling paradox to Mr. Brenner’s logic. He explains that, if we were to eliminate all public education and favor a privatized educational system, “Common core and standardized tests under such a system will not be necessary, because the schools that fail will go out of business.”

    I ask Mr. Brenner, why would a shift to privatized education mean the elimination of standardized testing? Is he suggesting that public school students and teachers need to be accountable and measured, but privatized school students and teachers would not? How, Mr. Brenner, would a privatized school be held accountable for millions or billions of tax dollars they would receive for educating our students? In your own words, Mr. Brenner, “How else can the use of our tax dollars be measured and people held accountable if we do not have a system of checks and balances?”

    So, once again, we have a politician, a graduate of Buckeye Valley High School, a public school, and Ohio State University – a person whose background is exclusively in business administration, marketing, and economics – instructing us on how we should handle our public school system, the very system that provided him the foundation on which his success is built.

    According to Mr. Brenner’s website, he “learned the value of hard work by growing a garden and … spent years working on the family Cut-Your-Own Christmas tree farm.”

    You, of all people, Mr.Brenner, should have a greater appreciation for the value of roots.

    I would love to continue, but I have papers to grade.

    • P-G Matuszak

      Mrs. Howell, you do realize that Sara Marie Brenner is not a “Mister”, correct? You further understand that she was not the author of the commentary in question, correct? I’m just hoping you have your facts straight. It would be a shame if you graded papers without doing any fact-checking.

    • Dawnell D. Gernentz

      very well said Steve Howell

  • Jason Burns

    There are some significant issues with both the theory of the problem and theory of action espoused in this piece. One is with the history of the education system described here. Unionization in education was not an outgrowth of socialism. The push for unionization came from educators wanting fairer treatment and equal pay, the same thing workers in other industries unionized for. The point is that our system of education didn’t develop as simply as it is characterized here.

    There are many problems with the notion that simply privatizing education would fix all the problems associated with it, some based on principle but others based on what happened in other industries. Things are different than when Milton Friedman wrote about privatizing education 60 years ago. First, the reference to the selling off of government property after the dissolution of the USSR provides some interesting insight into what may happen if the same were done here. When government-owned industries were sold off in the former USSR, a small group of people (the oligarchs) ended up capturing enormous shares of the natural gas, oil, and other industries and consolidating control of the industries into an oligopoly. This didn’t do much good for the Russian economy (remember that they defaulted on their sovereign debt less than ten years after the fall of the Soviet Union). There are also some examples of selling off public assets here where it doesn’t work out well. For instance, companies in the telecom industry have on multiple occasions colluded to fix prices of spectrum at artificially low levels so as to increase profits. Credit card companies act in concert to keep merch fees higher here than in most of the rest of the world and thus extract rents. Also, consider the elements of education that do exist in a market context such as textbooks and education technology. Are those entities really profitable because they work well or because the industry has consolidated to reduce real competition, raise barriers to entry, and use connections to make sales (iPads in L.A. anyone?). If this is how the competitive element of education operates, do we want more of it?

    Lastly, one of the principles that public education was founded on was that it could serve to promote and foster democracy (even Friedman held this). Democracy isn’t necessarily easy, quick, nor convenient. Democracy means deliberation, conversation, compromise, and more importantly, community. Shifting the control of education from the institution of democracy to markets in order for people to satisfy only their own personal aims undermines these values. Also, proposing a shift toward market control assumes that people actually know what is in their best interest, that they have the will to act in a way that achieves their interest, and that they have the capacity to pursue those actions. In principle it may seem easy to affirm those assumptions, but what about the people with limited transportation, limited funds to add to vouchers, and limited education themselves? Would they really have choice? They are the ones for whom education can have the greatest impact, which will benefit not only those people, but also the rest of society. Rather than fixing education, privatization would likely exacerbate many of the issues within education.

    • Andrew Brenner

      Clearly you do not know Milton Friedman. He helped create the concept of vouchers. here are some of his comments about education. Please note that I didn’t even read this until just now. I find it interesting that we are talking about the same thing. Of course I studied economics in college and I am a huge fan of what Milton Freidman proposed.

      Your commends are right out of Milton Friedman’s point in the youtube clip above, that people are generally stupid and can’t make good decisions on their own. Yes they can. Are the decisions perfect, no, but they are capable of making good decisions for their own families.

      When you replace parenting with a school, you lose the student, the family, and even the school. No longer does the parent think they need to help because they assume that the teacher is teaching their children. The school is then given parenting authority, but can’t punish the students. Moral authority is gone, because God and religion was removed from the classroom. The student loses out because they become just a number in a machine called our monopolistic education system.

      • Lisa Viger is Raw on $10 a Day

        Mitlon Friedman is the closest thing to an “AntiChrist” this world has seen in modern days.

        What part of his influence do you enjoy the most, Mr. Brenner? I thought throwing nuns out of helicopters was particularly inspired. You?

        Typical Republican … never met a dictator they weren’t willing to bow down to … Cowards.

  • Doug Wilhelm

    So the Vice Chair of the House (Public) Education Committe wants to blow up public education? Now that’s fun. What’s next? A Communist on the House Finance Committee? A Greenpeace member heading up the ODNR?