Every time I hear someone say “run schools like a business” I shake my head because it is obvious they know little about education

Look at this line from legislation passed in 2012 by our supermajority, “The Legislature further finds that performance-based incentives and increased autonomy are common place in the private section and should be infused into the public sector as a reward for productivity.”

This is the last line on page 1 of the bill legislating that we give every school a letter grade of A through F.

What is the source for making such a statement?  Where is the research substantiating such a claim?

Or look at this language from the Business Council of Alabama’s web site for their Business Education Alliance.

“Just as competitors force businesses to improve quality, service and products for their customers in order to maintain a share of the market, school choice does the same for education.”

Again, who says?

Both the sponsor of the bill above, Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur, and BCA are strong supporters of charter schools.  And “school choice” is just code for charters and vouchers.

The ONLY reason for a business to exist is to make money.  If they don’t, they go out of business.  But I have yet to visit with a principal who talked about how much profit their school makes.  About how much more valuable their students are than those at the school right down the road.

This reasoning of “run schools like a business” is bogus.  A myth.  Nonsense.  Not close to accurate.  And only expounded by folks who understand precious little about education.  They are simply parroting an untruth someone told them.

Peter Greene is an educator in Pennsylvania with more than 30 years experience.  He tackles the issue of education and a free market in this blog post about charters.  I highly recommend it.

And here is what he concludes:

“The first question of the public education system has to be, “How can we get a great education for every single child in this country?” The first question for a business has to be, “What model can we use that will keep this business economically viable?’ And the answer to that question will never, ever be, “By providing an education to every child in this country.” There will always be students who live in the economic cracks, niche customers that no business wants because there will never be money in them. Some charter fans suggest, either explicitly or implicitly, that educating those students will be the job of public education. But that represents a dramatic and complete re-imagining of the purpose of public education, and to repurpose an entire public sector without a public discussion is irresponsible and undemocratic.

“In the meantime, charter schools will continue to close when it makes business sense to do so, no matter what sorts of promises they made to the families of their students. Charter schools think like businesses, not like schools, because charter schools are businesses. We cannot be surprised when they act like businesses, and we cannot keep hiding from a discussion about the implications of turning that business mindset on a public good.”