Competition: the way a monopoly is dismantled
This past week we offered a series of blogs looking at how the traditional public school system in Kentucky – which enjoys a virtual monopoly over deciding where your child can go to school – has been seduced by its own power in arrogant ways that adversely impact students and taxpayers alike. We discussed how giving Kentucky parents the competition provided by badly needed school-choice options is the way to curb that monopoly power.
Monopoly schools attitudes – Summing up
In closing this series, we want to make it clear that a number of Kentucky’s school systems seem to be operating in highly appropriate ways. However, such fitting behavior clearly isn’t universal. In too many cases, adults in public school systems across Kentucky have not behaved in the best interests of their students.
We examined as part of this blog series during the past week some of the dramatic examples of how monopolistic mindsets and adults-first attitudes are frequently found in Kentucky’s public school system. Those examples included excessive and expensive school staffing, serious misuse and even outright embezzlement of public tax dollars, staffers cheating on testing to inflate performance and even political corruption.
Misbehavior often has gone on for years before outside investigations, such as those now coming from the state Auditor Adam Edelen’s office, finally revealed problems. “Insiders” in many of these cases were intimidated and said nothing.
Monopolies rarely self-correct their abuses.
The fact that many of the current problems were identified only through the external investigations by the auditor shows that problems resulting from the monopoly control mindset over our children’s education are unlikely to be internally corrected. Improvement requires external mechanisms.
Some of that correction will likely come from additional auditing. Indeed, more school-system audits are in process as we write these blogs. However, the auditor has a small budget, limited staff and many responsibilities.
Additional tools are needed.
One of those additional tools is school choice, which has proven nationwide to create competition and break up the monopoly power and control over where children must attend school. Giving parents in the Bluegrass State more control and options over where their children receive their education likely will prove an effective way of holding school districts more accountable. After all, there are far more parents in Kentucky than the auditor can ever hope to add to his staff.
Thus, school choice offers one of the best ways to deal with the sorts of monopoly mindset problems we have been discussing this week. It’s time for Kentucky to join the 42 states and Washington, DC where expanded choice options such as public charter schools are now the law.