Innovative companies have improved nearly every area of public life. So why are ideologues trying to keep them away from education?
Given the costly chasm between the educational performance of U.S. students and those in other countries—and the shameful gap between white students and their black and Latino counterparts here at home—you'd think school improvement would be an all-hands-on-deck imperative in which the best minds in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors came together to lift our children's prospects.
Yet such pragmatic problem,solving is threatened today by critics who condemn any private involvement in schools as a matter of "privatization," "profiteering," or worse. These ideological foes of business' contribution to the public good ignore history in their attempt to protect a failed status quo. If their campaign to quash educational innovation succeeds, the real losers will be our kids.
Here's the curious thing: Those who criticize recent private-sector interest in education never utter a peep about the billions that publishing houses and construction firms have earned through our schools over the decades.
A moment's reflection reminds us that business innovation has long been critical to public goals in sectors as diverse as health care, energy, and computing. In health care, pharmaceutical and medical device firms have worked closely with government partners to make America the acknowledged global leader in medical innovation. In energy, privately funded breakthroughs in gas exploration technologies hold the promise of liberating America from dependence on foreign oil. In computing, Google's privately funded search utility has democratized access to information in ways that improve countless lives.