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20 October 2013 @ 06:17 pm
Blueberries, quality control and other bidness  
Love this piece about a mysterious billboard asking about blueberries and the story behind it. Even if the story os apocryphal, it is absolutely to the point. I have grown weary of the "bidness" model of education (for those of you from outside the Lone Start State, that means business). Jeb Bush and his new foundation on education (and, really? give all the success in Florida he decides to have an education foundation? FACT anyone?) has not a single classroom teacher on the program. He has some college profs who have research proving the effectiveness of charter schools, though. This despite all of the research I have seen and read that indicates charter schools are no better than traditional schools. He has some CEOs talking about how technology will bring the reform about faster. He has former and current politicians. But nary a teacher in sight.


And this is not new. Years ago, Kylene Beers took then Secretary of Education Rod Paige to task for calling teacher unions terrorists then, when forced to recant, called them simply obstructionists (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/24/us/education-chief-calls-union-terrorist-then-recants.html). In her editorial message in VOICES FROM THE MIDDLE Kylene talked about the fallacies of applying business metaphors to education as well, talked about the fact that we take all kids, none is turned away. And here is the lesson of the story about blueberries. There is no one standing outside the school pointing to a kid who does not look up to snuff and turning her or him away for something "better." We take kids who are hungry, kids who are homeless, kids who are not valued by guardians, kids who face challenges. We take all kids. This is just one reason the business model does not fit into education.

When merit pay was first introduced, many commented on how merit does not really work in the business community as a whole. Yet it is being forced once again into education. It is called "rewarding" good teachers. We have Race to the Top, a competition. When did it become acceptable for education to be a competition? To be corporate? To be a business? Education is none of these. Perhaps we need to remind those outside of the profession exactly WHAT education is and is about? It is about the KIDS. Education is not for preparing kids for what is NEXT. It is for preparing kids for what is NOW. I grow weary of the voice that drones about what kids will need down the road. Let's give them what they need right now: our attention, our knowledge, our expertise, our love. Let us build a community and not a cubicle. Let us build confidence and not some sort of nebulous career skill. Let us nurture a child recognizing we are not making a product, we are making a citizen.
 
 
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