Thursday, June 02, 2016

Contracts and incentives

Yesterday we learned that some of National's charter schools were not all they're cracked up to be, with two violating contractual limits on expulsions and others failing to meet academic targets. So are they being punished for failing to meet the terms of their contract? Yeah, right:

Mr Seymour said the government was in discussion with Vanguard about its suspension and expulsion figures.

"The reason that we're in discussion rather than punishing them at this stage is simply the fact that first of all they have an ethos that is working extremely well. They have a very high discipline mantra and that has led to higher levels of exclusion and expulsion then you'd otherwise get."

Mr Seymour said it was also important to take into account that many of the school's students had struggled at other schools.

The whole idea behind the NeoLiberal policy of privatisation and contracting out is that management by contract provides clear incentives to providers to perform. Except that that fails to consider the other incentive in the system: the incentive on politicians who sold this snake oil to declare them a success. So as with Serco's private prisons, when the schools fail, they are not punished - because to actually enforce the contract would mean Seymour admitting that he had made a mistake. And so the contractors get to rip us off, and laugh all the way to the bank. And their victims - kids - receive a substandard education while they do it.