School superintendent candidate Don Pridemore just does not “get it”. In his recent conversation with the Post-Crescent, he repeatedly referred to the public school system as a monopoly. As monopolies are bad, it would therefore make sense to take funds from the public schools and help the private schools compete. But this premise is fundamentally unsound.
The very fact that private schools exist shows that there is no monopoly. Many parents choose to send their children to private or parochial school and are in no way hindered in doing so.
Furthermore, the logic of the voucher system makes no economic sense. If the public schools are failing as Pridemore claims, how does taking away part of their funding help solve that problem? I can think of no scenario where fewer teachers, fewer computers and older textbooks helped students be able to compete on a global scale.
Pridemore, Governor Walker, and others in alliance with them talk a good game about the importance of education, but then seem to take every step they can to undermine it. Wisconsin’s public schools and universities have long been seen among the best in the nation. Who would even think about gutting a system that obviously works?
Lastly, there is the issue of where tax funds should be going. When they go into public schools, they help the public at large — easing costs for low income families and providing society with brighter employees and innovators. Private schools do this, but also have a profit motive — why should the public have to fund a private business? Should the affordable, efficient Postal Service be gutted to fund FedEx?
Pridemore may have good intentions, but his plan boils down to one thing: saving the public school system by killing it. That idea flunks in my book.