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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Schools can't be run like a business

The Washington Post's Answer sheet has a post about how schools can't be run like businesses,

Below is a similar piece I wrote a while back. Warning if you are going to blame unions for the problems in education you must outline how. -cpg

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 so impractical it 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, school board I am looking at you, 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 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.

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