Monday, January 14, 2008

For Profit Schooling?

For the most part, schools are ran as non-profits. One man in Chicago is using the idea that running a school like a business will provide the best outcomes. While I do not know much about running schools for profits, the business like structure makes sense to me. I have always thought that schools would be better off running like businesses, encouraging competition to drive excellence. School choice follows this train of thought. If people were given the choice, the worst schools would lose students, which would then force them to improve to get students back. You can't be a school without the students, right?

Now, a look at the the new Flashpoint Academy of the Media Arts and Sciences vocational school and Experiencia science and business education center for grade school students in Chicago. Entrepreneur Howard Tullman believes education should be ran like a business with profits. These schools are state of the art that offer the best equipment and tools. For profit schools face some issues, such as not being able to offer tax breaks to donors and required to pay property taxes. They have set up foundations that allow charitable donations to be used for scholarship funds. So they found some ways around losing the perks of a non-profit. Additionally, they can offer teachers bonus pay and merit pay. This would attract and retain the best teachers around. "We treat education as the most important business there is, because it's our future," Tullman said. The Chicago Tribune posted more details on the schools and on Tullman's philosophy and history.

It is an interesting idea, and one that backs the ideas behind school choice. Running it like a business allows for competition, freedom, accountability, and pressure to improve. The schools need to try something different. We are not getting better results they way things have been going, it is time for something different.

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