David Knuffke Is an Educator Based on Long Island.

You can learn more about his work here.

The Logic of "Education Reform" Expressed as The World’s Shortest 1-Act Play

We open on a corporate board room. All of the trappings of the modern, hyper-successful corporation are on display. It is obvious that this is a place that means business. It’s an “all hands” meeting. The table is surrounded by a bunch of men and women in suits. The CEO of the corporation is seated at the head of the table, surrounded by her vice-presidents. We know she’s the CEO because her suit is just a bit nicer than everyone else’s.

CEO: These hiring and retention numbers are concerning.

VP1: Indeed they are. Looking at the trend, it’s clear that we are not recruiting the best candidates for our company.

VP2: And what’s worse, even when we do get quality employees, they don’t stick around for very long.

VP3: This hiring and retention problem is hurting our productivity, and costing us millions of dollars every year.

CEO: Obviously, we have to do something to fix this! Give me your best ideas.

There is a long, pregnant pause

VP4: What if we made our hiring package less appealing?

CEO:Less appealing? What do you mean?

VP4: What if we made it harder to work for us in general, and we gave our employees more responsibilities.

CEO: Go on.

VP4 And let’s also go back on the promises that we make to our employees about their benefits. Also, let’s peg the entirety of their continued employment to a metric that our experts don’t think is a valid indicator of much of anything.

CEO: I love it. Vice President #4, you’re promoted!

(End of Scene)

Of course, this is ridiculous. No business on Earth would run this way (at least if it wanted to stay in business). And yet, this is exactly what the “education reform” crowd proposes. Faced with a teacher attrition/retention problem that costs 2.2 billion dollars a year, they are actively engaged in making the job less attractive. They double down on flawed practices and increase the burden on all levels of school systems through decreased funding, and increased unfunded mandates. They seek to remove collective bargaining rights, and wash their hands of pension obligations, while simultaneously canonizing flimsy metrics that don’t seem to measure what they claim to.

To say nothing of the notion of promoting folks who have a less-than-stellar track record

If it wasn’t real, you couldn’t make it up. No one would ever believe you.

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