Business Model of Education Reform: The Real One

Understand the real business model? You may not have heard the whole story.

“The best-run companies start with their people, trusting them as human beings and trusting their capability and their potential. In essence, ‘they are people sensitive.’ They understand the importance of training your people well and letting them do their jobs.”

To be “people sensitive” starts with individual attitudes.

The process of educational improvement begins in the minds of those that desire to do what is best for the nation’s children. It requires being open-minded and cooperative.

Has the business world applied what they know and become a good team player?

Has the business world applied what they know and become a good team player?

And there are some business model rules we might do well to follow. “We must learn not to tamper with success,” not in practice and not in policy.

We need to remember that most school districts in this country have settled the question of what to teach and how to best go about it. So in the 43rd Annual Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)/Gallup poll on education, we shouldn’t be surprised that 71 percent of Americans say they…

“have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching in public schools.”

And that poll titled Betting on Teachers,” also found 73 percent of Americans preferred education policies that “give teachers flexibility to teach in ways they think best” over those that “require teachers to follow a prescribed curriculum so all students can learn the same content” (Bushaw).

For immediate impact in the schools that need our help, we need to look at “the people side of schooling.” And if we believe that “organizational management should be based on observing problems from the bottom up and not from the top down” then isn’t it the teacher in the classroom and the family at home that should be managing the education of public school children?

Can a business model serve us well?

In any given classroom, the teacher becomes their own manager. They plan the lesson, guide the students, and evaluate themselves and their students. And as the business model points out,

“The highest form of self-management is intrapreneurship” and “if teachers are to become intrapreneurs, “they must be given the freedom to act on their own.”

“To achieve excellence, one focuses not on the mission, but on the culture.”

And it is “freedom factors” that “are the foundation for enabling school people to satisfy their higher-level needs. Only when we are able to produce a school environment that meets these needs will we be able to achieve excellence.” This is not what we have created with a test-based, competitive culture. And parents that are out to “give their child every advantage” have added fuel to the fire of competition while modeling a culture of selfishness for their own children.

But now ask yourselves — if training of teachers and leaders is the key to success, who is doing the training? Who set the standards for professional development? What principles are they based on? Are those in charge following the will of the people? Did “they” move forward with “reforms” with our consent?

Excerpts taken from James Lewis, Jr., book Achieving Excellence in Our Schools…by Taking Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies published by J.L Wilkerson Publishing Company in 1986.

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7 thoughts on “Business Model of Education Reform: The Real One

  1. Excellent narrative, Doc! This type of thinking is the only way to get us out of the rabbit hole we are falling into. Education remains the one and only profession that REF– USES to accept business protocols and procedures as a way to not only remedy our wrongs, but to act like professionals. You say, “The best-run companies start with their people, trusting them as human beings and trusting their capability and their potential.” let’s be honest – a minimum wage part-time high school student flipping burgers has greater autonomy and employer “trust” than does any teacher in our current system. When thie changes, we will change.

  2. Thank you for reminding me that I wrote this. It is good to review and be reminded that 73% of the public believes we should go a different way with education reform. How policy makers continue to get away with ignoring us is the problem most in need of fixing.

    • I was doing a little research today and went in search of who is actually seeking this “new” change in education. Teachers do not want to eliminate testing. They want to eliminate the poor study habits of students that lead to failing tests. Parents do not want to eliminate testing. They want teachers to incentivize students to WANT TO study more. This is the basis for my Practice Management Consulting

      Change is so desperately needed, but if we as teachers stand by and let our administrations and union leaders think only of their own needs, desires, and personal job security, we will deserve to have the carpet pulled out from under us. I feel my feet moving already. And when this happens, who will the teachers have to blame? Nobody but ourselves.

  3. All very true.

    The misconception in the fight “against standardized tests” is the idea that it is all or nothing. The reality is that the proposition put before Congress beginning in 2004 was that we 1) return to 1994 levels of standardized tests – proper use as check points ~ 4th, 8th, 12th grades to provide the snapshots that they do, 2) continue the National Assessment of Educational Progress to monitor the nations progress, and 3) that the appropriate measures be used within classrooms to guide and improve instruction.

    This is reasonable and ethical testing. But there has been no action on it to repair the damaging effect of the test-based “federal accountability” of No Child left Behind.

    • Even I – who has no problem with standardized testing – have a major problem with NCLB. But we need to ask ourselves, “How was that ever passed?” If there were children being left behind back then (and there were) why would we make it mandatory that ALL students go through that – and have many drop out, or dumb down the curriculum so that anyone could get through? Who allowed this to happen? Yes, Pres. Bush passed it, but whose idea was this (Democrats? Liberals? Don’t shoot the messenger)) and who permitted it (our elected representatives) and who “rubber-stamped” it (our beloved union officials?)

      Yes, Standardized Testing should be used as checkpoints (exactly!), but we need the students to take them so we can “check” what “point” they are at.

  4. ….“if teachers are to become intrapreneurs, “they must be given the freedom to act on their own.” Very close the to truth. But this is how it should sound, “If teachers are to become successful, they must be permitted to act on their own, but they must first understand how the entrepreneur succeeds in the business world. if not, they will just be doing what all other administrators (who are failing) are doing today.”

  5. Pingback: Factory Model Education “Reforms” Were Designed for Product Testing, Not Children | Creative by Nature

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