I was looking up a local school the other day. The website given by the DPI was for a .com out of California. A few clicks and I realized a local Milwaukee school was one of this California company's for-profit schools. I tried to remember how this sort of thing could be done for a profit, anyhow, since public schools seem to be money pits. There must be a model out there, like how people say FedEx and UPS make a profit when the US Postal Service can't. Or how roads make a profit when trains can't. Or wait, maybe that's not entirely true, and maybe there are some problems with big business running our schools.
Year after year, my school district would present the budget, reminding us teachers that we (the employees) were the single most expensive item for them to deal with. Sometimes they sold schools or deferred maintenance, and often they celebrated saving money on electric bills and other small savings. The point is that if personnel represents the most in cost for a public school system, I assume this would also be true of business-run schools. Added to the mix would be CEOs CFOs, CIOs, owners, and stockholders, all looking for their cuts. So I ask myself, all else being equal, how does all of this work out?
OK, I know it's not all equal, like special ed, which is one of the biggest departments in most school districts, and generally non-existent in the for-profit schools. Does this mean those schools are so good that they can teach kids with disabilities without the need for special teachers? More likely, they just don't take the kids or ignore the problems until the kids leave. That's what I would do if I was trying to make a profit in running a school: take the most profitable students.
Beyond ignoring students with special needs, I assume these for-profit schools do not pay teachers or other staff a living wage. Honestly, that's not a huge deal to me anymore, since even a non-living wage would be more than I'm getting paid as an unemployed teacher, but the point is that generally government employees do better than their private sector counterparts doing the exact same job. I'm not talking about two white collar "professionals" but about a school teacher vs. a school teacher or a garbage man vs. a garbage man. Government pays better than the private sector direct equivalent.
To recap, in order for big business to do well in education, some students need to be left behind and teachers generally have to get paid less in order to make up for $500,000 per year owners and chiefs, and to allow for $150,000 salesmen and consultants, and to pay $100,000 a year web designers and app developers and to pay out dividends, etc.