BY: Joy Pullman| Heartland Institute
One of the major problems with public education is that the desires of school staff and of families can work against each other. Often, what makes teachers comfortable degrades instruction. So here’s a novel idea that could change that: Convert ownership of each public school into stock options that a school’s employees would own.
Benjamin Scafidi runs some numbers and finds “Each teacher in [an] example is now $113,000 wealthier and part owner of a school.” That’s not a bad set of workplace perks. What’s in it for the kids? Scafidi explains:
Employee-owned schools would face a market test–students and the funds dedicated to their education would flow to the schools their parents deem best. If the employee-owned schools could not attract enough students, employee-owners would face a stark reality: They either would have to:
-improve the quality of their academic and social offerings,
-hire new and better management,
-sell their school land and facilities to another educational provider, or
-see the value of their stock fall dramatically.
Thus, employee-owners would have a powerful financial incentive to offer excellent educational programs or sell to someone who will.
Charter schools offer a similar option–they have been and could be started and operated by teachers who decide they could manage their school better themselves.
Worker-owned cooperatives are not new. Multinational butter purveyor Land O’Lakes is one, for example, and so are many natural grocery stores. When people own part of an enterprise, they’re more than figuratively invested.
Clearly, there’s no shortage of ideas for improving education. What children need next are social entrepreneurs who are willing to try out such new ideas–and not through coercion, but by persuading people to join them willingly on new ventures.