Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Conflicts of Interest Among Public School Teachers

I have been thinking about conflicts of interest quite a bit lately. I would think that anyone involved in public service must confront this problem on a regular basis, as public servants, like all people, have private interests. And the public should be reasonably assured that their interests are not harmed by the private pursuits of public servants.

Public school teachers surely are faced with conflicts of interest difficulties. Like most people, they have private interests that include an interest in being paid well and being offered attractive benefits, among other things. In order to gain higher salaries and better benefits, school teachers need, above all, a political environment that will be aligned with their private interests. Or, to be more precise, they need voters that believe in a political educational system, wherin salaries etc... are detirmined by a political process. And conversely, a compensation system that is detirmined by results or customer satisfaction is considered very threatening.

So where is the conflict? Well, a teacher will stand to personally benefit, financially and otherwise, if students learn to share the political leanings of the majority of teachers and vote in a manner consistent with the private interests of teachers. Conversely, a teacher stands to lose money etc... if graduates do not share the political views of their teachers.

A great teacher will recognize this inherent conflict and work very hard to ensure that they do not manipulate or indoctrinate their students for their own personal benefit. But I suspect that most teachers are not even aware of the conflict. They simply believe that a political/governmental education is superior to any other education system. And I suspect this belief is passed on to unsuspecting students.

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