Although the focus today is on for-profit schools that have defrauded students, I submit that they have no place whatsoever in education (“What Betsy DeVos Thinks She Can Get Away With,” The New York Times, Sep. 24). That’s because producing a profit is fundamentally incompatible with education’s basic mission.
Let me explain. In an ideal world, schools and students would equally benefit. But I don’t think that’s possible in for-profit schools. Finding themselves caught between the interests of students and those of financial stakeholders, for-profit schools will invariably choose the latter or soon find themselves out of business. For example, studies show that students learn more effectively when classes are small. But hiring more teachers will always cut into profits.
Worse, for-profit schools have engaged in a pattern of lying about career opportunities. That’s not surprising because they are always under pressure to boost profits. In order to keep their financial backers happy, they must always produce ever greater returns. What better way to achieve that objective than by misrepresenting facts about gainful employment.
Education is by its very nature extremely labor-intensive. The steps that companies in the private sector have taken to please financial backers will shortchange students. That’s why I maintain that education should remain non-profit at all levels.
(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)