3 thoughts on “IPPR report fails to provide persuasive arguments against profit-making schools”

  1. Posted 14/08/2012 at 11:39 | Permalink

    One interesting point, in reviewing the “three broad arguments”, is that the first two are based on a lack of evidence. Yet, even if it were true that “(1) competition does not improve pupil performance, (2) for-profit schools do not do better than non-profit schools”, this is not a reason to ban them. Mr Muir would have to at least prove that “(1) competition damages pupil performance, (2) for-profit schools do worse than non-profit schools” for him to even have a case. Otherwise, he is denouncing something that does no harm, and is therefore acting purely on his own prejudice rather than pursuing any welfare end.

  2. Posted 14/08/2012 at 13:32 | Permalink

    Tom: I guess the argument would be that allowing choice and competition could make other reforms – that presumably would be good for achievement per se – more difficult (some people argue that). In this case, I don’t know what these reforms could be though. But you’re right of course – choice can be welfare maximising even if (1) achievement remains stagnant, as long as (2) other measures improve (social capital, pupil and parental satisfaction etc) – Muir is concerned about test scores in the final section, yet he only holds for-profit schools accountable for test scores in his review. Technically, furthermore, choice could be welfare maximising even if achievement falls but other measures improve as long as the marginal benefit of the latter outweigh the marginal cost of the former. It should also be noted that he does claim that non-profits do better than for-profit schools in Sweden and Chile, which gives an impression that the evidence is more mixed than what it is. When taking that into account, for-profit schools per se do not do worse in any country, but they do better in one American state. Overall, the report seems to suggest that for-profits actually do worse, but this is not explicit so I didn’t want to state that. Nevertheless, you’re right – the fact that extremely few methodologically persusasive studies find negative effects of choice and competition is important.

  3. Posted 15/08/2012 at 07:59 | Permalink

    Even if for-proft schools were to do worse generally than non-profit schools that is no reason to ban them, provided parents have a choice.

    If parents have a choice, then only the best schools will prevail, regardless.

    The overall figures tell us nothing about individual schools.

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