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Online learning provides access to
great teachers, great content, and any-time/anywhere learning, but only where
states and districts allow such options to
exist. Florida Virtual School (www.flvs.
net) is an excellent example of a high-performing, scaled state virtual school
that benefits from a performance-based
policy set. But no other state could afford to replicate its success at this point.
Creating quality options at scale for every student in the United States requires
the investment, scalability, and discipline of private enterprise.
—Tom Vander Ark is an education advocate,
adviser, and author of Getting Smart: How Personal Digital Learning Is Changing the World.
He is founder and executive editor of Getting
Smart and a partner in Learn Capital.
holders, but why would we pay the same
for lower outcomes and accountability?
Unfortunately, these decisions have
been made by policy-making legislators, many of whom have taken contributions from such companies, according to a 2010 New York Times article
( tinyurl.com/7kwdex2). Our schools
have been sold for campaign contributions and stock market gains.
We can make a difference by voting
for people who want reform, writing
letters, attending school board meetings,
and speaking up for our students. It’s
our future that’s at stake.
—Jeff Piontek is a teacher, author, and international keynote speaker on education reform and 21st
century skills. Read more at www.jeffpiontek.com.
Students Aren’t Commodities
A successful entrepeneur sold blueberry pies.
Addressing a group of teachers, he suggested that
if educators just followed his business lead, all
kids would learn. An experienced teacher raised
her hand. “Do you use the best blueberries in your
pies?” she asked. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Well,
we get all kinds of berries—some good, some not
so good—and we have to teach them all,” she
replied. “You can select. We can’t.” Most business
people, like far too many educators, use the factory
model of schools: cookie-cutter students riding the
assembly-line conveyor belt to the end of the line.
Ralph Maltese, Educational Consultant
Warminster, Pennsylvania, USA
Not Perfect, But Better
Many say schools can’t be operated effectively with
a business model because they must accept every
child. Publicly run schools have knowingly allowed
millions of disadvantaged kids to drop out or graduate
without the skills to succeed. Although some kids will
continue to be without the parental support and/or
cultural background to readily succeed, [under a business model] it would be a smaller number, and more
resources would be expended toward realizing each
child’s potential than public schools offer now.
Kent Harris, Independent E-Learning Professional
Billings, Montana, USA
Plan for a Win-Win
Create an educational system that fits the future
needs of corporations so there is opportunity for two-way communication. We’re changing so fast it’s hard
to predict what we’ll need when the current students
begin to get jobs. Both schools and corporations are
so busy dealing with the challenges of today, I don’t
see the planning for the future that happened when I
was a child.
Rick Winter, Consultant
Denver, Colorado, USA
The Times, They Are A-Changing
The nonprofit world has co-existed with capitalism
for hundreds of years. But capitalism is changing
from an old economic model to a new knowledge
one based on sharing and collaborating.
Carolyn Fox, Parent
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Learn from Many Sources
Businesses tend to hold their workers more accountable for results [and meeting] consumers’ expectations (in this case, parents or students who are paying
for their education). But to make a successful school,
you need elements from various models: business,
school, neighborhood, community, etc.
David Pham, Communications Specialist
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
No Double Standards
I do not think for-profit institutions are held to the
same set of evaluation criteria and standards for
learning as their public counterparts. For-profit online
schools that are taking public money should have the
same expectations for student graduation rates, employment, etc., and should be accredited by the same
organizations that public institutions use.
Andrew Topper, Associate Professor
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Sure, why not? Look how well AIG, Enron, and other
companies treated their employees and customers.
Let’s make Bernie Madoff the secretary of education.
Who needs educators running education when business leaders know so much more about what kids
need? Commercial companies will adjust to a kids-first instead of profits-first philosophy. Businesses
know how to succeed in today’s world—assembly
lines, outsourcing, and convincing advertising. Just
what schools need.
Dennis Harper, Founder/CEO, Generation YES
Seattle, Washington, USA
Business Model Fail
When the charter school I worked for received a new
board of trustees, they put in place a business model
to run the school. Some of the board’s thinking was
that teachers do not know how to run a school, and
they needed to run it like they run their businesses.
Decisions were made thinking not about what was
best for the student, but how much money they could
save on the deal. It was a disaster, the business-minded board members ended up leaving, and the
teachers had to clean up the mess.
Jennifer Riggs, Social Studies Teacher
Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA