In the recent article “Viewpoint: Why education is not like business,” contributing author Seth Rosenblatt wrote that, although there is a popular school of thought that says government—including public education—should be run more like a business, “government institutions exist for a different purpose than businesses, and they should operate by a different set of rules.”
This article prompted a lot of debate among eSchool News readers. While many readers argued that schools could learn a lot from business, a majority agreed with the premise that businesses and schools have fundamentally different missions and characteristics and therefore should not be compared.
Here’s what our readers had to say [edited for brevity]:
Why not learn from business?
“Business and education go hand in hand,” stated Pearcen. “Both are driven by a mission, responsible to the shareholders (community and parents, students), and should be able to adapt to a changing world. In a business, employees are hired based off of value they can bring into your company. A system engineer will cost you a hefty sum, a janitor, not so much. So why can’t most government schools, in general, pay more or less based on need? For instance, a school running on the business approach hires a 1st-year math teacher for $60K and a 10th-year English teacher for $50K. The business knew it was harder to acquire a math teacher more so than the English, so they paid more. However, our current teacher pay scale is nearly the same. Your worth is only based off of years of service, and if you have a master’s or doctorate [degree], and not the value you can bring.
“Citizens are revolting against schools and government today because they’re paying more and are getting less. The same citizens go into work and are expected to generate data-driven results, and are happy to lose pay, benefits, and retirement, if they can just keep their job. Those people are angry at seeing teachers on TV complain and protest a pay freeze or have to contribute to their awesome medical or retirement package. It kills them when they hear, ‘If you care about your kids’ future, you’ll give us a raise.’”
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“I think these are all reasons why schools should be managed as a business by business people rather than institutionalized educators,” said gramola. “If you accept the premise that our product is ‘producing educated students who will be successful in life,’ then we are failing miserably. Our marketing plan is way out of touch with the real world. Our curriculum is 30 years past usefulness. We are boring children and teaching useless information that the real world Googles. A fresh, innovative business approach is what we need to produce outstanding ‘products.’”