Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Has this person ever worked in a large corporation?

I ask in astonishment because I read things like this:
The newest bit of “wisdom” for public education comes to us from Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings, who is a big charter school supporter and an investor in the Rocketship Education charter school network. At a meeting of the California Charter Schools Association on March 4, he said in a keynote speech that the problem with public schools is that they are governed by elected local school boards. Charter schools have boards that are not elected and, according to his logic, have “a stable governance” and that’s why “they constantly get better every year.”
See, in the private sector there was this phenomenon called "re-organization" (or re-org) for short that seemed to hit every couple of years.  Each time there was a massive shift in governance and lines of reporting.  If Netflix has managed to avoid these "re-orgs" then I see that as a very positive feature of the company, but it is hardly a guarantee that all private corporations will be able to do the same things.

It also leads to other tough questions.  The reason that the private sector works well is "creative destruction" as better companies outcompete poorer companies.  Is the charter school movement going to be immune to competition as well? 

And if they are immune to market forces, what are they accountable to?  If we think the answer is a higher level of government, then why do we think it will be more stable and more accountable than the school boards? 

This is not so much a defense of school boards (which I have seriously mixed feelings about) as it is a question of what model do we replace them with?  I am not sure that the command and control style socialist model of the state owned or supported corporation has been the most efficient alternative, has it? 

EDIT: Mark Palko wanted me to mention that Valarie Strauss has been going good work in this area for some time.  Also note that idea of California needing to "catch up" to New Orleans  -- it is possible for a former backwater to become dynamic (think Macedonia at the end of the classical Greek era) but this is often not the best bet to make.

NOTE: Mark here. For a bit more context, check out the reform movement gadfly Edushyster's take on the charter chain Hastings was promoting,

1 comment:

  1. I think the whole corporate metaphor for organizing education is mostly misleading. It relies on voodoo vision of education and the fetish of corporate success. I picked some of this apart in: http://metaphorhacker.net/2011/02/the-most-ridiculous-metaphor-of-education/