Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Byrd-Bennett, 'a foot soldier in the march towards privatization'

Ian Belknap is a writer and performer living in Chicago. He hits the nail on the head with this opinion piece in Crain's, "Framing education as a business attracts the wrong people".

While the leading candidates in both parties spend their valuable debate time extolling the virtues of capitalism (...what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world.” -- Hillary Clinton), Belknap points out what should be obvious by now. The push towards privatization of public education has been a disaster.

What got him going was the indictment of Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
Byrd-Bennett's woes are rooted in her greed, yes (and her tone deafness to irony—"tuition to pay and casinos to visit?"... But she has also acted as a foot soldier in the decades-long march toward privatization and misapplying the precepts of business to the complex (and in many cases generations-long) problems facing our schools.
Her downfall, writes Belknap,  "may be read as the logical extension, and, one hopes, the last gasp, of a badly flawed and shortsighted approach: namely the fallacy that business principles are well suited for every aspect of society".
It is past time we abandon the demonstrated failings of such an approach. It is past time we reconceive of jobs like Byrd-Bennett's as "CEO"—doing so focuses wrongly on the "outputs" of the system they're meant to preside over, rather than the contribution they may make to it during the time it is entrusted to them. In short, it is past time we as a society stop misapplying a business-style conception of risk and reward to education.

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