More Productivity: Sooner Rather Than Later

The National Journal is hosting a debate on the proposed $23b edu-jobs bill.  Here’s my response: Productivity: Sooner Rather than Later.
The 15,000 school boards that Deborah Meier refers to cut bad employment deals; they know it but they can’t fix it–they are simply out gunned at the bargaining table. Moving toward the new performance-based employment bargain will take a countervailing force like a federal or state grant or policy to avoid the tragedy of LIFO layoffs.
We’ve already spent $100b of federal funds to shore up state shortfalls. No more free money without some reforms that point the way to the system our kids deserve. As Ellen pointed out, read TNTP analysis for detail.
If every school operated under a charter held by a local nonprofit, we’d have the participation that Deb calls for. The fiscal crisis is a great opportunity for districts to step out of an operating role–at least in the case of struggling schools–and turn operations over to an operator that can do it better and cheaper.
Last point: our schools need to be more productive. Every other sector has used technology to improve outcomes and reduce costs. School formats that blend online and onsite learning have the potential to improve learning and operating productivity. Another bailout just delays the inevitable shift to more learning online.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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