Would the Greedy Educator Please Stand Up?

There was fascinating worldview statement in an article in yesterday’s (April 8, 2013) Tennessean about pending legislation (Senate Bill 205/House Bill 315) that would allow for-profit charter schools.

A spokesman for the Tennessee School Boards Association said, “Just in general, when you have people making decisions and their motivation is to make a profit instead of what is best for kids, it raises a red flag.”

I like the spokesman. Great guy. But his statement raises some “red flags” for me. Here are my questions:

  • Is profit an inherently bad motive?
  • Could a for-profit school continue to make a profit if what they do is not best for kids? Won’t parents eventually stop enrolling their children?
  • In fact, when you are a consumer, don’t you tend to demand positive changes more quickly?
  • Do public schools have more incentive to improve quickly than a school that will go broke if it doesn’t improve?

How might a few different worldviews look at the bill? Here are my thoughts.

Someone with a Marxist worldview would oppose the bill because for-profit schools take advantage of the workers who provide the taxes that allow someone else to profit.

Someone with a secular humanist worldview might be okay with the bill so long as other secular humanists continued to control the educational inputs in order to promote equal results and perpetuate their humanist worldview.

Someone with a Biblical worldview would recognize that profit is simply the end result of production. God is productive. We are made in his image. God wants us to be productive as his image bearers – to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.

Does that mean any business should be allowed to do whatever it thinks will bring a profit? No! Biblically speaking, the government must restrain evil. For example:

  • Regulations that protect against fraud (which is theft –“do not steal”) are Biblical.
  • Regulations that provide or protect safety (which flows from “do not murder”) are Biblical.
  • Regulations like courts that protect the performance of the contract (flowing from “do not steal” or “bear false witness”) are biblical.

At the end of the day, no one is proposing that there be NO oversight of charter schools. We should always be keeping an eye on corruption in our educational institutions. But just because someone is motivated by profit doesn’t mean that they are automatically in the wrong.