Privatization Can Teach New Detroit School Board a Lesson

Click for audio Privatization Can Teach New Detroit School Board a Lesson

School may be out for the summer, but it’s time for Detroit’s new reform board to brush up on ways to cut the district’s expenses and improve the quality of education for its 180,000 students.

Privatization—relying on the competitive private sector to provide public school support services—has allowed districts across the country to save scarce resources for textbooks, classroom materials, and after-school programs for struggling students.

For example, Chicago’s school district saved $20 million over three years just by contracting out its bus service to a private firm. Philadelphia schools cut their expenses by over $29 million in two years by relying on private custodial, food, and other services.

In Michigan, Pontiac’s private bus service allows the district to spend its annual savings of $500,000 on core educational programs. In fact, roughly one quarter of the state’s school districts save money by contracting with private firms to provide food services.

Detroit can learn the lesson of privatization. By contracting out food, transportation, custodial, and other support services, the new reform school board can save money and focus on what it was appointed to do: improve education for Detroit students.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.