It seems oddly humorous to me that the very organizations which wanted to be considered businesses are running around complaining about financial market issues, which are a huge part of the financial cycle. While everyone was sleeping, education became a business, much to the dismay of professional educators. It happened very slowly but the marketing was outstanding. Those upset with running the business apparently never had the opportunity to obtain an education degree and as is typical with all business plans, the CEO’s (principals) were busy listening to the marketing department, not the people with the education degrees.
During my lifetime I have watched education attempt to be made into the Ford Motor Corporation, each student a widget on the assembly line. Next I watched it become Mattel and Parker Brothers, whereby fresh new colors and shiny objects were going to improve the widget and how it turned out if the widget would just play. Then it became IBM where the advent of the silicon chip was going to revolutionize the learning process and make the widget smarter, faster and finally, now it is seen as WAMU, a bank that was well marketed but actually had no business acumen.
At no point did I see education become a walk in the woods, an interaction between parents and children, a trip to the library, travels, time away from TV, nutritious food, creative/innovative as those things do not turn a profit, they merely turn out better students. I watched carefully. I was one of the teachers who was supposed to be thunderstruck with each new business model. At the height of all this business transformation, I was supposed to follow the wisdom of business guru Jim Collins in Good to Great, the non-profit version since non-profit makes it sound less corporate. The business model never worked without help from Mr. Bloom (Bloom’s Taxonomy) and other great educators.
To this day, all of the schools run as businesses have yet to do anything different from what an ordinary, regular neighborhood school is expected to do – prepare students for attending college and get most of the students through higher education to obtain a job in the workforce and improve the economy of the nation. The major difference is that schools run as businesses have fancy data and graphics and market the hell out of themselves- they have yet to substantially and consistently reduce the margin of discrepancy between White and Asian students vs. Black and Latino student test scores in a statistically valid manner. Schools run as businesses have not improved crime rates, have not slowed poverty, have yet to produce more doctors, lawyers, MBA’s, etc. per capita. The school as business was merely modeled after showing ‘test scores’ or quality control if you will.
As I sit back and watch the media circus around the issue of budget cuts in education, I chortle. The cheapest, most effective thing which should have been done in gross (cheaper in gross!) is to get parents involved and responsible in raising their child and following up on the child’s academic performance. There is no ‘business’ in the education model – it is a public service, funded by tax dollars and audited, if you will, by the parents and public at large to see that students get into and through higher education.
So, perhaps we need to find a good CPA (cleaning, pressing and alteration of the books) to fix the problem or we need to remove the business model strategy from education. I did not obtain a degree in business – I was convinced a business degree would ebb and flow like the financial markets.