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Replace Striking Teachers with Babysitters

6976390139_894491b5bd_zWith British Columbia’s 41,000 unionized public school teachers still on strike, parents are scrambling for solutions. What is one of the more popular ones right now? Teenage babysitters. It’s more than a little ironic that the province’s teachers strike has freed up the labor necessary to replace the out-of-work teachers.
“I thought that I could just help parents out and maybe start making some money during the strike,” said Amanda, who graduated from Vancouver’s Kerrisdale Elementary School this week. “Right away, I got, like, four or five phone calls,” she said. In fact, business has been so good that she’s had to turn down requests. “Business has been very busy but then I have my life that I have, too,” she said. “I’ve had to turn down some, but I still have many options because the parents are still working during the strike.” On the first day of rotating strikes in May, about a dozen kids attended the Hendersons’ Strike Camp. In recent days, the attendance doubled. “We got so many e-mails from panicked parents saying, ‘My child is so low-maintenance; can you please just let them in?’” said Adrienne, 16.
The problem when public workers go on strike is that there are no options. There are too many state monopolies, so we can only turn to one fire department, policing services or school system. When they go on strike it’s costly and difficult to find an alternative (if at all). The fact that parents are turning to teenage babysitters to cope with the strike suggests that the competition for teachers comes from an unlikely source. With many parents seeing public schooling as a glorified day care, why not cut out the middle man of the state and let the public find its own babysitters? (Originally posted at Mises Canada.)

David Howden is Chair of the Department of Business and Economics and professor of economics at St. Louis University's Madrid Campus, and Academic Vice President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada.

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