April 2010 Your Turn

Profit, productivity, return on investment, the bottom line -- they’re all wonderful terms.

For businesses, not schools.

Asked if schools should be run more like businesses, two-thirds of you said “no,” with half of that group saying schools “need to be run less like businesses” and the other half agreeing that “schools have it about right in terms of the business principles they are now applying.”

“We do track student data and adjust our teaching methods accordingly,” said Oregon board member Deb Reid. “Our teachers meet in learning communities and plan together. But students are not a business, and our bottom line is not money: It is a productive, well-adjusted citizen. So business modeling can give us some important insights into how to improve our efficiency and keep happy, productive staff, but that modeling only goes so far.”

A third of you said “schools need to operate more like businesses do.”

“I have never yet come to a district, in three superintendencies, that was not overstaffed administratively and understaffed with teachers,” said Paul Vranish, a superintendent from Texas. “School administrators are usually from the education ranks, have little business background, and this can lead to unintentional inefficiencies in staffing paradigms.”

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