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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How would schools act if they were voracious corporations bent on unfettered monopolistic growth?

Here's a fun game to play. We all know that schools, unlike Wall Street banks, are organizations that are inherently benign, with loving teachers and caring administrators dedicated to selflessly making the world a better place by taking on the under-paid task of nurturing our children.

But what if, in some crazy parallel universe, the school sytems were instead voracious corporations bent on unfettered monopolistic growth? How would they behave?

Here is what you might see:

  • Schools would try to push more and more school hours.
  • They would use fear to convince everyone that their services were absolutely necessary.
  • They would advertise heavily to present themselves as local and caring.
  • Schools would try to get as much money as possible, using increasingly complex schemes and indirect charges to hide their true cost, and force as many people to pay even if they did not use the service.
  • New teachers, because they would not have career options, would be treated poorly (building deep resentment).
  • Schools would try to standardize as completely as possible the offerings. They would be inflexible in dealing with customers and the community. Students would be expected to change to meet the needs of the offering, as opposed to the other way around.
  • They would produce something that is both increasingly out of line with what customers actually wanted, and as complicated as possible.
  • Schools would have huge lobbying efforts to stave off regulation and to get more tax dollars.
  • They would consume an increasingly large share of a nation's GDP.
  • You would see schools using internal metrics to evaluate success that no one outside of the school cares about.
  • Schools primary functional goal would be to help children become better students (i.e. greater and lower cost consumers of education) and eventually teachers, not to help them outside of the school.
  • You would see bigger and bigger salaries for the people at the top.
  • Decisions would be made based on internal politics.
  • You would see larger and larger administrations - the middle layer that does not teach but that "manages."
  • They would truly believe their approach was the only approach.
  • Schools would seek to crush competition, such as vouchers and home-schooling. There would be increasingly powerful, legally enforced tools to penalize truancy and other anti-school behavior.
Well, thank goodness schools are not voracious corporations bent on unfettered monopolistic growth. Because that would be a huge problem.

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