School Isn’t Uber And Never Should Be
Shanna Peeples

The Uber comparison is pretty apt, really. The way Uber is able to offer such short wait times for passengers is to flood the market with drivers, such that a big percentage of drivers are idly waiting most of the time. This has led to increased traffic and air pollution in major cities that already had congestion problems. What’s more, their union-resistant business model is such that idly waiting drivers don’t get paid. (To be clear: Uber could have chosen to decrease passenger wait times by hiring more drivers, while still paying those drivers a living wage — but they didn’t because that would decrease their profits.) They also use a bait-and-switch model where initially, drivers in a new market are paid well, but as soon as the company becomes established, driver wages drop.

And they were able to get away with all this because of a regulatory loophole — even though they are a taxi company in all meaningful ways, they were able to avoid being regulated like one.

So the Uber model provides more convenience to customers (in this case the taxpayer) but lower wages for drivers (just like teachers in non unionized private and charter schools), it avoids regulation so there are no provisions for those with special needs (they are only now piloting wheelchair accessible vehicles), there is no accountability for drivers (minimal background checks, plus “oh, when our driver hit that pedestrian he was technically off the clock even though he was cruising for fares”) and the public absorbs the negative costs.

There are certainly ways the analogy breaks down but “Uber” as shorthand for “new and awesome” is a very one-sided view.

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