Do for-profit providers in US public education prioritize student achievement or financial gains? AEI's Rick Hess and a panel of prominent practitioners aimed to address this question at an event on Monday.
Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute defended the need for for-profits in public education because for-profit organizations attract more capital, scale at faster rates, and are better equipped to offer innovative solutions to the growing student achievement gaps.
When asked about the accountability of for-profits in the public space, Stacey Childress of the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation offered a philanthropic perspective, calling for the private and for-profit education industry to take initiative, measure its outcomes, and make its findings transparent to the public.
Jim Shelton of the US Department of Education agreed with Childress, expressing his fear that if the for-profit education industry is not proactive in measuring its influence on student achievement, one "bad actor" could cast a shadow over the whole industry. He claimed that all other for-profit public-education providers could be penalized by the government, media, and traditional education establishment if the industry does not hold itself accountable.
While the panelists had varying views about the role of for-profits in education, they agreed that more data and transparency could drastically reshape the current culture and policies surrounding the for-profit education industry.
-Lauren Aronson and Chelsea Straus
November's US presidential election results will impact much in K–12 and higher education — including the role of private enterprise in public education. Many Democratic policymakers, including those in Obama administration, have supported "gainful employment" regulations and competitive grant restrictions rooted in concerns about the motives and behavior of for-profit operators.
Other policymakers contend that for-profit operators are especially agile, equipped to pioneer new services, and inclined to pursue crucial cost efficiencies. As federal policymakers look to 2013, what kinds of policies, rules, metrics, and regulations will enable private enterprise to serve students while policing against malfeasance? Join AEI’s Frederick Hess and prominent for-profit practitioners as they address this and other pressing questions about the intersection of federal policy and for-profits in education.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.