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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Schools can't be run like a bussiness

Run it like a business seems to be the cry people outside of education both yell and try to sell. I wonder what business schools should it be run like? Should they be run like a bank or a mortgage company, probably not they have had their fair share of problems recently. What about like a car company or an international oil conglomerate, probably not either right as they have had their problems too. I recently read a statistic that said 20,000-business fail a month, which of those should we run education like? The truth is we can’t run a public school system like a business and even though it sounds good to some, saying it is impractical does a disservice to things that are truly impractical.

No shoes, no shirt, no service right? Well what about no school supplies no service? If I kicked out every kid who didn’t bring a pen or pencil to my class, some days I would have had an extra planning period. If I gave away one pencil or pen I gave away a thousand. And don’t get me talking about paper and books.

Businesses can fire employees that are don’t do their work or who sleep while at work. Schools can’t, if they did they would be getting rid of some of their best workers.

Businesses can fire employees and then get a restraining order against workers who threaten or throw things at the boss. Teachers are required to welcome them back after a brief time out.

Do businesses call disruptive and disrespectful employees parents and ask them to do something to get them under control? I didn’t think so.

As far as I know the winners of popularity contests don’t run most businesses either.

Now are their business strategies the school system can employ? Definitely. How about we don’t put teachers in nearly impossible situations and blame them when they don’t succeed. How about we foster creativity and autonomy and support our teachers when they are faced with other disrespectful and disruptive students.

We could follow our own rules as laid out in the code of conduct instead of ignoring it. We could also maximize our workforce by putting everyone in the classroom. Duval County literally has thousands of certificated employees who don’t work directly with students. Then how about over-time, wouldn’t it be nice for teachers to get paid for the hours they actually worked, though if we did that now schools would truly go broke.

Good businesses also have their best employees be managers instead of promoting friends or people that can pass a test and just because you can pass an Ed leadership class or two does not magically transform you into a leader. Good businesses also have a coherent and realistic plan; unfortunately all we have is a mission statement and it's not very realistic.

The closest business I can think of to teaching is being a bike builder, except teachers are suppose to build the bike while riding it while missing some of the pieces, oh and more often than not it's raining while this is happening as well.

Schools shouldn’t be run like a business they should be run like what a loving parent would do if they had a very sick child. If the parent loved the child there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do, no stone would be left unturned, no bush would go unbeaten and no expense would be spared. They would do whatever in their power they could to help their child get better. They wouldn’t say, lets tackle this illness like a business. If they did they might cut their losses and move on.


  1. Chris -

    your comment:

    "The closest bussiness I can think of to teaching is being a bike builder, accept teachers are..."

    accept, should be except.

    As for the general article - when people decry that schools should run like a business - it is about how money is spent - nothing more. The problem is money is allocated and then when the dollars are in place, no one polices it.

    Furthermore, the education that a master's degree provides in Ed leadership does not provide enough education to truly teach 'new principals' how to budget invest money to the extent that a degree in accounting or finance does.

    Placing employees in charge of multi-million dollar budgets can be disastrous, if not inept for a district to do that.

    More education needs to be required in the master's curriculum to prepare an individual for this task.

  2. I write IEPs and I am told over and over these are legal documents. Why am I writing legal documents? Sonds like they are asking for trouble. Maybe principals shouldn't be doing budgets or policing money.

    That might free them up for more important tasks.

  3. Let's principal for whom I worked required and demanded that her staff (including support staff) spend their own money for things with which to fix up the school. The teachers were expected to spend at least $100. Another decided to rid the school of older teachers, so most of them were forced into retirement. A business could be sued for discrimination on that last one!

  4. Nice topic, but I think the understanding of the "business" concept is not adequate. Most of those who stand for treating schools as businesses typically refer to the Human Resources and Finance aspects of management.

    States require administrators to be educators first, then to prepare as business managers. This concept, while pedagogically meaningful, in practice leaves fields of needed knowledge without address. For example, accounting or labor laws.

    The public sector is plagued with unions and restrictions that, when you analyze their cost effectiveness, act contrary to what managers really wish to accomplish.

    This is a great debate, since educators will have their own stance while business managers, that have already analyzed the state of education, will have theirs. Still, I would much rather have managers doing what they know, instead of having educators doing a manager's work.

  5. To all of those experts out there:

    The business world is always trying to hold the world of education to their standards. As educators we believe that it is time to hold businesses to the same standards that we are responsible for upholding.

    So from this moment on, this is what we expect from the business world! We would like your business to be held accountable for the success of other businesses that purchase your product.

    When you are selling your product to other businesses we demand that you are accommodating the needs of your customers so that you can meet the demands that each of your customers have. We would like you to design your sales presentations to fit the needs of nonreaders, visual buyers, auditory buyers, kinesthetic buyers, deaf people, blind people, people in wheel chairs, people with all physical and mental handicaps, people that speak every other language other than English.

    We would like to base your pay and your compensation on how successful the people that use your product are! It is your job to prove your success with real sales data and numbers.

    We would like you to find a way to sell your product to all customers regardless of their income, their intelligence, and how successful they are in using your product. And we are mandating that you must do this for all of the above mentioned people and make it against the law if you do not fulfill these conditions.

    We would also like to hold you accountable for selling your product to people that have no use for your product, and that have told you right up front that they have no use for your product. And we mandate that you must make up your sales presentation to all customers that do not show up to your sales meeting regardless of the excuse such as family emergencies, personal health issues, or any other reason even including that they just didn’t feel like it!

    We demand that you must try to sell your product to other companies even if the boss of their company thinks that you are a complete joke and have no value to anyone! We also demand that you try to sell your product to customers that have unrealistic expectations as to how your product should work or actually does work.

    We demand that you must consider the input of your customers even if they tell you how to run your company and you know their ideas are bad ideas!
    We demand that you have no choice who you can sell your product to.

    We say that it will be OK if the public distorts the truth about how your company works and that it is OK to put these distortions all over the media in anyway that the public chooses and they may release these opinions for every one to see. There shall be no connection to reality when it comes to spreading opinions and it should make no difference how inaccurate these opinions are because that is the freedom of speech and it is exactly what our forefathers would have wanted!

    If someone with no knowledge of how your product actually works or is produced, you must let their opinion take priority over what you know as an expert on your product even if you have been building and selling your product for more than 20 years!

    We demand that you must try to sell your product to customers that are not even having their basic needs met. You must try to sell your product to starving people, people with no shelter, and to people living in horrific living conditions. We demand that you sell your product to people that are abusive, that are criminals, that could care less about anything but drugs and alcohol!

    Your performance rating on all of the above conditions will depend on how you well you meet all of the above stated conditions! And lastly your pay will be determined by your success! In addition, any additional costs that may be incurred meeting these conditions shall not be reimbursed, you must take it out of the company budget!

    This is the world as an educator sees it and maybe people would have compassion for educators if they could see the world through the eyes of a teacher!

    A concerned teacher in 2011!