Bruce Baker brilliantly explains here why he won’t use the term “corporate reform.”
The strategies now being imposed on the schools have failed when applied in corporate settings, he writes.
He looks at the use of two now-popular “reform” ideas in education: the portfolio model and evaluation by results.
The portfolio model is based on the belief that schools should compete, and that those in charge should close the ones that don’t have high test scores while adding new ones.
Baker shows that when Sears tried the portfolio model, it was a disaster.
Units competed with one another, and each one thought only about what was good for its own survival.
There was, as one would predict, the worst kind of competition for survival, with cream skimming.
The overall results were devastating to the corporation.
When IBM tried to reverse its declining fortunes, it adopted a competitive employee rating system.
This too was a disaster.
(Edwards Deming could have predicted these disasters, but that’s another subject.)
So, Baker argues that current education reform should not be called “corporate reform” because good corporations would never do what the “reformers” now insist upon.
But, I will continue to use the term “corporate reform” because I think he proves the point that I make.
The bad ideas now infesting public education came from the corporate sector, where they failed.
They are failed corporate ideas that are being imposed on public schools, where they also fail.
It is important to understand why they failed in the corporate world, because it helps to explain why they are failing in the education world.
So I will continue to refer to the “reformers” as corporate reformers because it captures the origins of their bad ideas.
They are the people insisting upon the portfolio model, upon teacher evaluation models that turn teaching into a metrical exercise, upon data as the goal of education, upon turning everything into a metric, upon closing community schools, upon lowering standards for entry into teaching. They are the people who think that Big Data can solve all problems, even those that can’t be measured. They are the people who say “you measure what you treasure,” although they sometimes say, “you treasure what you measure.” And they say, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it.”
If someone has a better term than “corporate reform,” I’m all ears.