The Ugly Side of Market-based Education

A featured guest column in last week’s Bridge Magazine by Margaret Trimer-Hartley, superintendent at UPrep Science & Math in Detroit, is definitely worth a read. Trimer-Hartley details, with anecdotal evidence, the attempts by schools to fill seats using some underhanded tactics, including giveaways like clothing, shoes, and even ice cream. With the existing “school of choice” structure, schools are doing all they can to meet budget marks, aiming squarely at students and parents, who’ve become customers in the educational marketplace. The author advocates for more awareness among communities as to what determines a school’s quality in hopes of directing at-risk students to more effective schools. The problem is that, as the article states, parents “‘go by word of mouth and what they see.'”

Efforts toward educating the public on school performance must be more concerted and direct, and especially include growth metrics as opposed to static high-stakes test results. Even with all of these efforts, self-report bias will still be a major factor.

When it comes to the shadier side of school marketing, can we not come up with a better system of regulation? Political campaigns and, more relatedly, for-profit higher-ed institutions are subject to more scrutiny – why not secondary ed?

One response to “The Ugly Side of Market-based Education”

  1. bubba49006 says :

    This is what a free market for education and schools of choice gets you. Getting them in the door is the easy part, keeping them engaged and seeing meaningful outcomes is the tough part.

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