Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Education World vs. Business World

I was in Des Moines on Tuesday and I had a very interesting conversation with an individual at a restaurant (Granite City...I highly recommend it next time you are down there). He professed that the educational system of America would be vastly improved if it was actually ran like a business. Some of his points consisted of not understanding why underachieving schools continued to operate, why teachers of non-proficient students still had jobs (because he said if he didn't make his quotas for several months in a row he would be fired), and finally talked about how (in his perspective) there is no accountability. I will be the first to admit that he was very passionate about the subject.

I think he was a little surprised by my answer. I responded by telling him, "the difference is, you are selling a product, we are changing people." He looked at me "what's the difference"? Take for a moment your child or all of your children. Each one of them is significantly different. Each one has a different need. Some are in need of mentors, others tutors, and still others just need an interior motive to achieve. Teachers see hundreds of kids walk in and out of their doors each day. Even the very BEST teachers will truly engage about 80% of all their students in a given lesson. When dealing with people you have a lot of variables that coinside with the instruction that is being implemented.

I went on to say I do agree that as a whole (the educational system in America) needs to improve, but running it like a hardcore business may not be the answer (certain components I do agree with).

So what do you think????


  1. Bravo! I love your comeback to his comments. Your words echo those of many educators and their philosophies regarding children and education. Each child is unique. Each child has his/her own needs. Each child carries with them experiences that have shaped them into the child we see and work with every day. You are right; there are many variables. Educators must first show each child that walks through their door that they care. Caring, kindness, patience, and nurturing while teaching, work together to "change people" as you so adeptly said. I cannot see where businesses do that!

  2. Jesse,
    Nice post. It's hard to compare and contrast education and business. While business people might say that if they ran their business like we run education, they'd be broke in a month. Perhaps! But, if we ran our schools like they run their business, we'd only be working with the best and brightest. Just as you mention the business man spoke with passion, it appears that you did the same. Way to go. Glad that you made it home safely on those bad roads that day. Keep up the good work.

  3. I will agree that certain components of education should be run like a business. The knowledge of being held accountable for your actions, not necessarily just student achievement, and the possibility of losing that job base on actions, would make teaching a more business like job. This may also make it a more lucrative job that teachers would have to work hard to have and keep.

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  5. Businesses have the option of dropping products or services that don't get the results they want. As a public school, we do not (and should not) have that option, but instead should dedicate ourselves with doing the best with what we have, which in many ways is far more challenging than the throw-away option enjoyed by the world of business.

    Running a school in the proposed business model would likely widen the achievement gap, create need for more jails and welfare, and quite possibly eliminate the middle class.