Can’t afford to pay for school lunches? Didn’t fill out the proper paperwork? Today, Fox News recommended throwing the meal away as a “teaching moment.” This kind of thinking is popular among those trying to privatize Michigan’s public education system.
Aside from embarrassing students in front of their classmates, the only reason to promote such a callous and detrimental policy is because advocates think corporate interests are more important than actually educating our children. If their intended lesson was corporate-interests are more important than people, point well-taken.
After years of deep budget cuts, school districts started hiring private food-service management companies at the behest of the Mackinac Center to provide supposedly cheaper school lunches so that administrators and teachers could focus on providing a quality education.
How’d that work out? Terrible. Much like Michigan’s local schools and prisons, efforts at privatization consistently deliver substandard services while costing as much – or more – than their public sector counterparts:
Roland Zullo, a researcher at the University of Michigan, found in 2008 that Michigan schools that hired private food-service management firms spent less on labor and food but more on fees and supplies, yielding “no substantive economic savings.” Alarmingly, he also found that privatization was associated with lower test scores, hypothesizing that the high-fat and high-sugar foods served by the companies might be the cause. In a 2010 study Dr. Zullo found that Chartwells was able to trim costs by cutting benefits for workers in Ann Arbor schools, but that the schools didn’t end up realizing any savings.
So consider this a teaching moment: privatizing local schools puts Michigan’s future at risk – and our children will pay the price.