In the Jan. 15 Viewpoints section, Dean Allen, representing the Washington Roundtable, claimed to be “rethinking education” by fiddling with “management procedures” and “systems” including privatizing schools at taxpayer expense. Allen didn’t rethink education. He ignored it.
Education is a teacher helping students learn and understand a subject more quickly, broadly and deeply than is natural.
But Allen thinks education is equipment, buildings, personnel and the administrators to manage them. His solutions have been tried in one form after another for the past 30 years. And, as he says, student performance declined steadily even as teacher qualifications, expertise and skills increased.
The problem is not teachers or public schools. It’s the application of business administration to education. That’s given us school districts full of administrators with inadequate or no teaching skills. It’s like having the CEO of an insurance company directing a surgeon during an operation. The CEO is smart and successful in business but he doesn’t know jack about surgery. Yet, that’s the kind of administration business has pushed on public school teachers these past 30 years. And Mr. Allen wants more of it.
I say, “No!”
Rethinking education requires examining a question we haven’t discussed in 80 years: What should be the purpose(s) of public education? Is it for socialization? Citizenship? Employment? Self-fulfillment? All of the above? None?
Educators, not business administrators, are prepared to help the public look at such questions, then support teachers in delivering education according to the public’s decisions.