Silly question of the day

If customer mutuals are such a great idea, you know Building Societies, the Co Op, organisations owned and ultimately managed by their customers, why are schools run by parents (acting, of course, in loco parentis for the ankle biters who are the real customers) such a bad idea?

Anyone?

12 thoughts on “Silly question of the day”

  1. Schools run by parents are an excellent idea, but why are you arguing that children are the real customers of education? Beneficiaries, certainly, but are prisoners the real customers of prisons? Cows the real customers of abattoirs? Children don’t wake up on the morning of their fifth birthday and think “I’ve gotta buy me an eddycation, I gotta get me a job.” Parents are a school’s customers, surely?

    Which reminds me of an old teacher joke. The only proven link between wealth and and a good education is that wealthy parents like to buy a good education for their children.

  2. Well John’s point is clearly right, but also mutuals aren’t run by their customers, they are owned by them. And very few parents have an interest in owning schools, primarily because their association with them is relatively short.

  3. In our (state) education system, the customer is neither the state, nor the parents, nor the children. Like in most of the state sector, the real customer is the employees.

    Look at who opposes these schools. The teaching unions, and a political party that depends for funding on the unions. Indeed, just about every change to school policy is a fierce matter for the teaching unions, even when really it doesn’t affect them much – e.g. standardised tests. And yet you hear very little from parents by comparison. I think that should tell you exactly for whose benefit the schools are run.

  4. MatGB,

    I don’t know. I’d rather mutuals run by the teachers and other staff myself, but mutuals run by the parents aren’t objectionable to me.

    Quite. The “owned by our customers” bit is fairly irrelevant to why mutuals work. You might be able to vote for the directors of your Building Society once a year, but more importantly you can vote with your feet every day. Which reminds me… I must see what deals are out there.

  5. The customer: the parents or the child? There seems to be a joint ownership of the “consumer” role that gradually shifts as the child grows older. Perhaps if the child were given more ownership of education at a young age, the necessity of making one’s own decisions upon high school graduation would not be such a frightful thing. One of the best students in a recent college course I was in, told the teacher, “I need to know exactly what it is you want me to write.” In other words, the teacher “owned” the essay and the student was only obliging.

  6. “In loco parentis” means “in the place of a parent”. Your parenthetic remark doesn’ t make sense.

    Building Societies are a good idea because they intermediate between the complementary interests of borrowers and savers without extracting profits. They have the comparatively simply task of setting interest rates that balance deposits with loans and setting lending policies that avoid excess losses from defaults.

    Schools are much more complicated than that. By analogy, you might see them as intermediating between teachers, who have educational skills, and parents, who want their children educated. But it is much more difficult to judge the effectiveness of a teacher than the financial appeal of an interest rate. And the analogy breaks down because the parents have competing as well as common interests – each parent wants the teaching to be tailored to the (perceived) needs of their child. So activist parents cannot be trusted to be good representatives of the interests of the whole body of parents.

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