You get what you pay for

What happened to us?

When did we start asking ourselves “How can we provide our children with the cheapest education?” rather than “How can we provide our children with the best education?” From our outset, we prioritized education, using our taxes to build public schools – recognizing their economic and social value.

Now, the same people whose opinion of the average welfare recipient is so low that they passed a law instituting suspicion-based drug testing, think women can’t make their own decisions, and believe homosexuals account for half the murders in large cities, have decided that it makes sense to give those same people a $5,000 voucher-card to shop around and purchase an education for their children.

Apparently poor people, women and gays can’t be trusted to make their own personal decisions – but when it comes to shopping around for their kid’s school? No problem.

If you’ve been following the travails of the for-profit charter school cottage industry in Michigan, you know you really will have to shop around. Because of the perverse incentives of a market where there is zero oversight, guaranteed demand, and the overriding corporate prerogative to meet quarterly projections, Michigan’s for-profit charter school utopia has failed. Simply put, why invest in providing a quality education when you can focus on advertising, count more “heads,” and beat market expectations? That chart will kill at your next earnings call.

In defense of “Skunk Works,” Gov. Snyder said, “I don’t know how anyone could disagree with the statement we could use more technology and do it better.”

And you know what, he’s right. But he’s right because that’s a completely meaningless and agreeable statement. Are people researching less efficient ways of manufacturing HD TVs with poorer picture quality?

No, they’re not. Because that would be stupid.

In Michigan, we understand that you really do get what you pay for. That beater may look nice on the lot, but if you take the time to pull up the CarFax you’ll see that under the polished exterior is an engine that’s been in two head-on collisions. The only thing keeping you there is the salesman’s promise to beat any price, no credit required. In the end, you’ll put more into the engine than the car was ever worth.

I should know, it happened to me. But I learned from my mistake. I invested in a good car, and on the driver-side rear window it reads, “Michigan Assembly Plant, Built with Pride.”

That’s why you make the investment up front, knowing its value isn’t measured in dollars and cents alone. For-profit charter schools aren’t worth the risk, and we’d sooner pay for air than send our children to the school with the snazziest ads.

Tell Gov. Snyder we’re not customers, and Michigan’s education system is not for sale.

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