FedEx CEO Attacks Public School Monopoly

Frederick Smith says that the public school monopoly tends “to gravitate to the lowest common denominator.”

In my opinion, Frederick Smith was courageous to say the things he said. There are two reasons for my opinion. First, despite the popular myth about them and the free market, businessmen and entrepreneurs are often more interested in gaining government help than in winning in a free market environment. For some, a monopoly is what they aspire to become once they get successful enough to hire the right lobbyists and bribe the right politicians.

Second, governments can really cripple private businesses, especially when the government is as big and unfettered as the U.S. Federal Government. FedEx doesn’t want any conflicts with the Feds. So it is risky speaking out for a position that you know this Administration opposes.

[See also, “Public School Is Ruled by Statist Zombies.”]

But that didn’t stop Frederick Smith from denouncing the public school monopoly. The Times Free Press reports, “In Chattanooga, FedEx CEO hits ‘breakdown’ in public education.”

FedEx Corp.’s chief executive cited the “poor results” of the nation’s public education system on Wednesday, saying it’s not turning out the kind of workers that companies need today.

“We’re not producing the type of students we need for the 21st-century workforce — period,” said Frederick Smith, the founder of the Memphis-based parcel delivery giant.

Smith, who gave the keynote address at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, also cited the “sociological environment” in which students are growing up for the lack of results.

But, he said, there’s a breakdown in the nation’s public schools and a lack of competition.

“Monopolies tend to gravitate to the lowest common denominator,” Smith said. “I strongly believe the most important thing that makes FedEx better every day is competition.”

He said he’s a big supporter of school vouchers and charter schools.

“You wouldn’t watch an NFL game if there weren’t two teams on the field,” Smith said in answer to a question at the event that drew about 1,200 people. “You wouldn’t watch a tennis match if there weren’t two players.”

While I’m not thrilled to see the state-monopoly NFL mentioned as if it is an example of competition (he only needed the sports analogy; he should have not mentioned the NFL), I think he makes a great point. Government schools are union-run, socialist kingdoms that show all the typical problems of socialism. But instead of recommending vouchers and charter schools, I think we would be better off completely privatizing the system and abolishing all the truancy laws and child-labor laws that force all children into one rigid system.

That would allow true competition.