School "reform" follow up
Strategy & Business Magazine, published by the business consultancy Booz & Company, has a piece on school reform, "School Reform for Realists: Partnerships between business and education have a place in solving the talent gap, but not in the way most executives expect," that pretty much repudiates the reform trope that dominates public discourse.
Well, only the first page. The case studies aren't very interesting and don't seem definitive.
From the article:
Unfortunately, most business–education partnerships have been formed around a core set of school reform ideas that can be appealing in theory but don’t seem to work in practice. These include competition-based reforms, including most voucher and charter school systems, incentive pay for teachers, some management training programs for education leaders, and the intensive use of digital educational technology.
One basic attitude underlying these reforms is that schools need to be run more like businesses. In practice, that means adopting a competitive management style that imposes numerical goals, rewards high performers disproportionately, blames labor unions for poor performance, and forces each individual to prove his or her value every day. In other words, school reformers are promoting top-down, carrot-and-stick, compliance-driven management ideas that (as quality-movement leader W. Edwards Deming and others have pointed out) are unreliable and, in many cases, counterproductive — even in business.
Moreover, virtually all the studies on key reform initiatives, including the charter movement and merit pay for teachers, suggest that these measures have failed to improve education outcomes. ...
How, then, should businesspeople who are genuinely interested in school reform take on the challenge? Start by recognizing that you have a great deal to offer education — if you can draw on the most collaborative, generative aspects of business thinking and action, following the examples of companies that promote transparency, engagement, shared accountability, continuous improvement, and organizational learning. For example, a recent study by Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, “Collaborating on School Reform,” shows that contrary to popular practice and the dictates of many corporate education reformers, the secret to long-term improvement for teachers, schools, and students is “substantive collaboration” at all levels — the classroom, the school, the district, the community; in short, collaboration among all key stakeholders.