Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's good for General Motors . . .

Our school's rewards ticket program comes with its own promotional materials, which make a special point of noting that, under the program, the teachers' treatment of the kids would parallel the way good business managers treat their employees.

For example, happy employees, we are told, like to "feel the mission of the organization makes them feel like their jobs are important." Under the rewards program, students will "feel that the mission of the school makes them feel like their jobs are important." (Emphasis theirs.)

Happy employees "have a supervisor who cares and pays attention"; the students will "have a teacher who cares and pays attention."

And so on. As one parent said to me, "I wonder what the schools that produce managers look like."

It's no coincidence that the program's materials read like this (click below to enlarge), since big business is one of the prime backers of test-driven education. If you need any confirmation, check out this creepy press release from the National Association of Manufacturers, commending the new Secretary of Education for his commitment to "using data to help drive decision-making and accountability in education" and his advocacy for "performance-based evaluation systems," with the goal of preparing the students "for the high-performance workforce that is necessary to succeed in today's hyper-competitive global economy," and ensuring their "success in high quality middle class jobs, including those in manufacturing."

I know the kids are going to have to get jobs someday. But school isn't the "workplace." School should be an extension of the home; teachers are stand-ins for parents, not for bosses. Parents know that there is a lot more to their children than their future earning potential. We should focus on what's good for the kids, not on what's good for the National Association of Manufacturers.