|Based on Joseph Keppler's "The Bosses of the Senate"|
"The business of America is business." Public education is not a business, however, and whatever strikes at its heart strikes at the foundations of our democracy.
I have to believe some of the corporate "reformers" think they have the best interests of education at heart. Many may have their millions, but ultimately feel unsatisfied. They may feel a need to give back to a society from which they have either earned or stolen so much. (I would like to think it is mainly the former, but some might call me naïve and argue for the latter). Working with their models of successful business practices, they falsely seek to apply these values to schoolrooms, hoping for the same success. I wonder, sadly, if they would apply these same practices to their family life.
Businessmen aim primarily for profits; teachers aim primarily to promote the welfare of others. Although I would not like to have to scrounge in garbage cans to feed my family, merit pay means nada to me, especially since it would be based upon some of the most suspect metrics imaginable. Cooperation in a collegial atmosphere in the name of helping our student body means the world to me. I chose to become a teacher, not a businesswoman. And, I consider it a calling of sorts.
I would hope some of my students become successful business people someday. I would hope they introduce innovative ideas and find niches for production that meet the needs of our society. I would not expect them to run their business like a successful school; it would, doubtless, fail. And, equally so, I would not expect them to throw their millions at the Department of Education and force feed policies, glorifying the privatization of education. If schools are made to run on the same principles as businesses, they will surely fail.
I hope to never see the products of a generation raised and educated by cold business practices. I would give a feral generation raised by wolves a greater chance for success. Education is based upon caring as much as upon conveying cold facts and formulas. Teaching cannot be a cold piece of machinery; teaching has a human heart. Teachers help develop more than the minds of students. Unproductive students cannot and should not be fired. Neither is the school a great gulag that can be forced to respond to the dictates of NCLB or RTTT.
Perhaps the greatest enigma of all this concern for educational reform is the fact that poverty hardly enters the conversation. Why should the likes of Bill Gates take notice of poverty around the world, but choose to downplay its roles in our own country? Why should the ed. deformers with their millions "scapegoat" teachers as the cause of poverty in America, as they continue to privatize public education, stashing wads of money into the pockets of the private sector while simultaneously putting a stranglehold on our most sacred principles of democracy?