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Education is not a business, Florida shouldn’t treat it like one

The Florida Times Union, June 2, 2024

Pat Wojciechowski

Guest columnist

Calvin Johnson’s May 12 letter to the editor reveals that he apparently has no idea of what education is, how it functions and why it is not a business. 

Businesses deal with manufacturing and delivering products. In a business, if your ice cream company gets a bad batch of blueberries, you dispose of them and replace them with new berries. In professional sports, if your team loses consistently, your less capable players may not get a contract for the next season. 

Education, however, cannot be compared to business entities. Johnson said, ”When businesses face a shrinking customer base, they need to downsize to produce a better product.” Education is not a for-profit enterprise that can downsize to create better students and eventually better citizens. Charter schools may have a choice whether to accept a student or not, but traditional public schools accept all children.  

All children are separate, distinct individuals, and a traditional public school’s task is to help each student be their best. Part of that involves having schools near children’s homes that enrich their community, the children and their families. Thus, it is a terrible decision to close a neighborhood school and force the students to travel long distances to seek an education.  

I suspect that most businesses know that to retain good employees, the employer must pay them adequately for their efforts. Currently, Florida pays its teachers less than only one other state — West Virginia. So when Johnson says he thinks Duval County schools could benefit by creating a better product at a lower cost, it would seem to suggest cutting teachers’ salaries or reducing the number of teachers, which could increase class size exponentially.  

Johnson says competition produces a better product at less cost, but he obviously has not been grocery shopping lately or put gasoline in his car. Our Mandarin neighborhood has a grocery store on almost every block, but the price of groceries is high at every store. We also have numerous gas stations, but nearly all charge the same exorbitant price for gas. If competition hasn’t brought down grocery or gas prices, how would it reduce the price of running a school?  

In fact, sharing the half-cent sales tax with charter schools has sorely depleted funding for Duval County Public Schools and delayed new school construction.


Our children deserve to learn in accredited schools from state-certified teachers in a clean, safe environment, all paid for by the state. By implying that public schools aren’t as good as charter schools (certified only by a private board), you really seem to be finding fault with the Florida Department of Education. 

Pat Wojciechowski, Mandarin 

This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions


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