I say this with great sarcasm before I get all the emails and comments, but left to clueless executives (thank you, Alfie Kohn) wreaking havoc on education it is bound to be mentioned.
So, if the US is #15 in Reading, 23rd in Science and 31st in Math in global PISA rankings and being being beaten by Canada and Shanghai than let’s just hire those teachers. This worked for manufacturing, you know, cheaper labor and a core competency the US lacks. We can run education into the ground just like everything else we have touched since the Japanese industrial miracle.
Let’s be honest we (because we are all in this together) just don’t get it.
The State of Indiana is promoting teacher evaluations and merit pay to improve education. This thinking surely will increase costs and make us less competitive as it has in every other industry. The same state that brought us how to screw up welfare eligibility in a billion dollar blunder was bound to lead the way in poor “business thinking” for education . . . surprised they didn’t suggest outsourcing.
Dennis Van Roekel, who is president of the National Education Association offers some reason, but lacks method. Teacher autonomy in the classroom to experiment with method offers some hope. Too many cooks in the kitchen trying to “fix” education and most of these lack knowledge of classroom experience. They need a normative experience to get perspective by spending time in a teacher’s shoes.
Management have long promoted the thinking that unions are the enemy, but unions didn’t give us the banking crisis. Misguided incentives gave us that. Who paid? The worker in jobs. Canada and Finland are successful (as Van Roekel points out) with strong unions. I like the idea that the teachers unions should step up and lead rather than fight.
Declining international scores are a function of the education system and not some witch-hunt to find bad teachers. This is a cynical approach . . . and naive. Performance is driven 95% by the system and 5% the individual, put a good teacher in a bad system and the system will eventually win. Further, thinking drives how we design systems.
The education system decline corresponds with our move to centralization of education at a national and state level with damaging programs like No Child Left Behind. We have become a nation of standardized testing and we keep getting feedback from the tests that education is in decline, which leads to more testing.
Let’s start shutting down these government education agencies and start investing in the value work . . . teaching. Or we can outsource to some country that knows what they are doing.
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Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public). His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work. Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected]. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.