Schools Aren't Businesses!

Here is another one of those school-as-business/weigh-the-pig debunking articles. Most of these, and the ones I write, come from the position that teachers and schools cannot perform miracles; parents must be involved, and be accountable for the education of their children. Read the article below.
Charlie Kyte: Don't just take aim at the schools; work with them


August 21, 2008

The only chance Minnesota has of developing a competitive future workforce lies in a closely collaborative relationship between businesspeople and educators.

That relationship, though, is far from mutually supportive. Business leaders criticize educators and demand that market-model benchmarks be met to earn what seems like grudging support. Educators resist engaging with the business community for fear of scrutiny that focuses on shortcomings rather than on successes.

Last Sunday, Bill Blazar of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce laid out his expectations of the Minneapolis public schools in order to gain his support of their much-needed operating levy, to be voted on in November. He stated that he wanted a demonstration of accountability from the school system.

Since success will only come with a sincere effort to work together, I've developed a number of suggested benchmarks for our business community partners. This is what they need to do to earn the support of educators as we together try to have more students be successful.

•Make sure every one of your employees who is a parent of young children has their own child "learning/reading/behaviorally" ready when they begin kindergarten. Make part of their compensation dependent on this goal, and reward them for success.

•Create every possible opportunity to have teachers come inside your businesses to see firsthand the skills your employees need to be successful. Do this at "scale" for large numbers of educators.

•Create a media marketing/advertising campaign that will embed the belief in students and parents that obtaining an education will provide a better future. Tell them "do well in school and we will have a job waiting for you." Sell education as their best hope for the future.

•Begin to compliment educators when there is success. The constant "tough love" set of messages is not lifting our teachers. Rather, it is crushing their spirits.

Oh, and by the way ... we would like all these goals to be measurable.

Let's start working together.

Charlie Kyte is the executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and served for 20 years as a superintendent of schools in Minnesota.

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