a fellow thinker’s point that’s well taken…

March 20th, 2009

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

Let me preface the following critique by saying that you two sound great on air.  It seemed like a relaxed conversation that keeps the listeners engaged.

When Sakiya explained that schools should be run like a business, it struck a nerve.  Based on my research on this subject, I am fundamentally against any notion that a school or school system should be run like a business.  No. Teachers as salespersons.  No. Students as buyers.  No.  When students don’t perform (buy products), then it is the fault of the teacher (salesperson). No. This theory is flawed.

Let me break it down.  Supporters of the business model for schooling fail to realize that school’s failure is due to the inherent nature of the educational process.  Education involves multiple stakeholders, disparate and conflicting goals, complex and multitask jobs, team production, uncertain inputs, and idiosyncratic elements contingent on the attributes of individual students, efforts and attitudes of fellow teachers, and classroom environments.  The complexity of the process may tend to lessen student achievement effects and the adoption of a business model approach would further complicate things.  Students are not buyers.  Education is no product.

Paying teachers more for better performance (merit pay), a practice taken from the business world has already proven to be unsuccessful. In the 1980s and 1990s, business and political leaders assumed it would be easy to implement programs that paid good teachers for doing a good job.  Generally, those how favor merit pay for teachers, as it relates to student achievement, view education as a system (or business), with inputs and outputs.  The belief is that if your have a merit pay as an incentive or as an input, the natural output should be higher teacher motivation and improved student achievement.  There has been no concrete evidence to ever suggest that any such business related incentive has led to higher student achievement in education.

I digress..  Please don’t think that my disagreement with Sakiya lessens my opinion of him.  I just disagree with the theory.  Not the positivity that both you and he project. Keep producing positivity across the air (internet) waves.

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Entry Filed under: Think About It!

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