Veteran North Carolina Teacher Lisa Woods provides insightful commentary on why schools are not businesses. Her commentary first appeared in the Greensboro News-Record and I couldn’t agree more. Woods stated:
“I would like to posit a scenario where “job performance and value” are based on the following objectives and conditions:
* You are meeting with 35 clients in a room designed to hold 20.
* The air conditioning and/or heat may or may not be working, and your roof leaks in three places, one of which is the table where your customers are gathered.
* Of the 35, five do not speak English, and no interpreters are provided.
* Fifteen are there because they are forced by their “bosses” to be there but hate your product.
* Eight do not have the funds to purchase your product.
* Seven have no prior experience with your product and have no idea what it is or how to use it.
* Two are removed for fighting over a chair.
* Only two-thirds of your clients appear well-rested and well-fed.
You are expected to:
* Make your presentation in 40 minutes.
* Have up-to-date, professionally created information concerning your product.
* Keep complete paperwork and assessments of product understanding for each client and remediate where there is lack of understanding.
* Use at least three different methods of conveying your information: visual, auditory and hands-on.”
Let me also add to Woods’ comments. Schools are located within communities. Sometimes these communities are places in which a business would never consider locating a store, factory, or office. No business leader would consider locating a business in a location where their employees and customers would be unable to safely walk from their car to the front door or risk vandalism of their car in the parking lot. They may be located in low income areas in which it would be difficult to find consumers with the cash to buy their products or employees able to fill the jobs. For many years corporate driven education reform advocates have blamed schools for the conditions that impede their profits. True education reform must begin with reforming communities and making them safe places for schools and the children they serve. Far too many children arrive at school traumatized simply by the very act of walking through crime infested neighborhoods, knowing that at the end of the school day they will have to once again navigate those same streets in order to get back home. Business leaders would never subject their employees to this and certainly would not expect an employee to be 100% ready to tackle the business of the day after risking being assaulted on the streets outside the workplace day after day.
There is an inherent hypocrisy in comparing schools to businesses. If corporate reformers would focus their attention on the work of reforming and rebuilding communities that are suitable for families and children, it is possible that schools and academic improvement would be a natural outcome. Eliminate poverty first. While there may not huge financial profit in these endeavors, there is profit for humanity and America.