Schools and the Business Model

Policy makers and the current so-called reformers talk about the need to run our public educational system more like a business. From what I see, that is being done, with the same disastrous results.

We see businesses paying their CEOs exorbitant salaries while reducing their labor forces and cutting the wages of those who actually do the work. Often these CEOs are hired irrespective of their knowledge or experience in the field or of whatever product or service that company is engaged in. Then when their policies fail, they are paid huge sums to buy out their contracts, while a replacement CEO is paid even more.

In education we see the same rise in wages for superintendents, especially of large school districts, while cuts are being made everywhere else. Often these new leaders come with no educational backgrond at all, their only experience being in the business world. And when they fail, they too see their contracts paid off while a new superintendent is hired at a higher salary.

In business more attention is being paid to short term profits to give investors a quick return on their money, often at the cost of long-term quality or stability.

In education we see schools forced to find ways to get short term test score gains per Federal and State mandates, which are often made at the cost of building a solid educational foundation and understanding.

In business companies engage in cooking the books to make their profits look better than they might actually be, and we read about these scandals almost daily. In education we see districts and schools cooking the books and engaging in practices to make their test scores and other data look better and we act just as surprised as the same scandals appear in education.

In business quick profits are the goal, at whatever cost, legal or illegal. In public schools better test scores are the legal tender to be attained at whatever cost.

Schools are learning to act more like contemporary businesses. In business such practices have taken the world’s economies to the brink of disaster and brought us the worst recession since the Great Depression, while the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Such practices and mindset are doing the same to our public educational system, widening the gap between the quality of education for rich and poor.

One might notice that it is practically unheard of for the private schools where the elite send their children to use the rhetoric of business practices to describe their own schools.

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