Listen to a good panel discussion, featuring Joanne Barkan of Dissent. She wrote the great article “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.”
No. Never. I’m looking at how many businesses have been run lately and I’m not impressed. Their objective is to produce a product and a profit. That isn’t the goal of a school.
I wrote this in Sept., 1995, but it still applies today.
“Some time ago, I wrote to readers about two examples of fraudulent advertising and poor communication which demonstrated why calling for education to be more like business was a simplistic solution. Today, we have two new examples, involving the effects of overly aggressive expansion and competition. I’m referring to the closure of Smith’s department stores and Silo electronics and appliance stores.
Here are two respectable, supposedly well managed, businesses that have collapsed and left their employees without jobs and many customers without goods for which they have paid. Are these examples of businesses that education is supposed to emulate?”
Though I was raising the alarm back then, few listened. Today, it is such common place as to be most disheartening.
The first two commenters touch on the obvious flaw in the theory, or at least how the theory is being implemented. Even if we agreed that schools should be run like businesses (which I don’t, but for the sake of argument), why would we pick leaders of *failed* businesses to do it?
Using the word “business” to describe everything from a Mom & Pop store to a transnational corporation shows a real lack of critical thinking.
Depends on the business:
“As the Assistant Superintendent of Chugach School District at the time of the Baldrige award, I can easily say that his [Broder's] article regarding Chugach best captured our student-centered continuous improvement spirit. As the current Chugach Superintendent, I’m happy to report that this spirit is alive a well.In reflecting upon our journey, which includes learning from many others involved with Baldrige, I’m struck by the idea that while Baldrige provides the framework for quality, it is the passion of the people that provide the innovation. When we received the Alaska state award (APEX) in 2009, Dr. Sponge was the keynote speaker for the award ceremony. He spoke about his time with Boeing when aircraft assembly was in stages and the stages were all on a time-bound schedule. Dr. Sponge spoke about planes being passed from one stage to the next before they were ready, which caused poor quality. He finally had to mandate new requirements regarding the schedule being less important than the quality. “Hold those planes” was the new mantra. When schedule, while still important, became secondary to quality, the planes didn’t advance until they were ready.You might see where I’m going with this. As you know, in Chugach we experienced the same thing with students. They were being passed from one grade level to the next before they were ready. We finally said, “Hold those students”. Now, in each content area, students advance to the next level when they are ready.”
Yesterday I had an interesting encounter with an ed school faculty member. I asked if there’s a point where repeated failure calls for letting the “invisible hand of the marketplace” intervene. (Yes, there’s a point where repeated failure mandates removal of the invisible hand, or at least some constructive intervention.)
She replied that we can’t let generations of Black schoolchildren be the collateral damage of the left’s aversion to capitalism.
Taxpayers (and parents) have a right to expect public education to take the constructive steps a well-run business would take when faced with competitive pressure: Ensure resources are applied to priorities. Ensure effective and affordable approaches to solving problems. Identify successful districts and learn from them.
Public education is tasked with providing an education to every child. Every child is to be a priority. Charter schools do not hold the same vision.
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