Did you hear the one about how schools should be run more like businesses? In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, Jennifer and Jack are joined by business journalist Andrea Gabor, author of the new book After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform. Gabor argues that business DOES offer lessons for schools – but that the education reform industry has learned all of the wrong ones.
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A teacher in New Orleans sees some startling similarities between the education of the city’s children and the way that commodity crops are grown on industrial farms…
By Stefin Pasternak
The way we educate our children in many schools in New Orleans these days shares some startling similarities with how industrial farms raise commodity crops. Industrial farms prefer the complete uniformity of straight, orderly rows of a single crop rather than the organic relationships of different organisms that support one another in a true ecosystem. Many of our schools prefer to educate children under the veil of a culture of straight, silent lines, seeking to produce identical outcomes rather than cultivating the organic interactions and freedoms that breed healthy children and communities.1
Industrial farms prefer to control as many variables in the growing process as possible instead of encouraging a diversity of variables to yield different growing environments. Many schools try to control as many variables in the teaching process as possible instead of encouraging a diverse array of teaching styles and critical thought.
Industrial farms prefer to genetically engineer crops for yield at the expense of taste and nutrition, leaving us with a surplus of tasteless, nutrition-less food-like plants. Many of our schools prefer to educate kids who score basic or above on a battery of dozens of standardized tests, but who cannot fend for themselves in the real world, rather than kids who lead happy, healthy lives and build healthy communities.
And as is well understood these days, industrial agriculture does all this to the complete and total devastation of our ecology and climate. So what of the schools who raise kids this way? Continue reading →
I talk to Andy Smarick about the urban school system of the future…
EduShyster: Let’s talk about the future. In your vision, urban parents will choose between their choice of high-performing charter schools. But one can’t help but observe that the cities that seem to be hurtling towards the future at the greatest velocity don’t seem to have all that much choice about where they’re headed.
Andy Smarick: I don’t agree with that at all. I believe that the systems that are going in that direction are places where families, communities and organizations have the most say. They’re places that have the longest charter school wait lists, or in some cities they have the longest scholarship or tax credit wait lists. What I do agree with you about is that in these systems where there are more and more autonomous schools, we don’t have a system yet for ensuring that there is democratic control of the entire system. I think these cities are showing us that parents desperately want a different kind of system, they want choices, they want to be able to exercise their options. But now it’s up to us to ensure that there is democratic control as well. Continue reading →