Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Business Model in Education: Really! It's Going to be Great!

The Business Model in Education:
Grading on the Curve.
SOME DAYS, YOUR BLOG JUST WRITES ITSELF and on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the referendum feature which is a part of Ohio law. Of course, that whole Senate Bill 5 mess is a different story.

So let’s just appreciate the turkey browning in the oven. 

We’ve been hearing a lot recently from conservatives about how we need to break the public sector monopolies—in education, for example. Governor Kasich, here in Ohio, is all for shaking up a sclerotic system. So is Governor Walker in Wisconsin. Governor Christie in New Jersey is all in favor of more stuffing, potatoes and gravy.

As for me, I’ve decided, sure:  If we let business take over the public schools we’re absolutely going to get “business efficiency” and “business accountability.” And, as an added bonus we’re going to get “business morality,” too.

Let’s see how our “business model” for education is working. 

Just how are for-profit colleges doing these days? According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, released this week, there seem to be a few minor glitches. First, investigators posing as students found that 12 of 15 commercial colleges, including the five biggest names in the business, accepted fake high school diplomas without bothering to check, including diplomas from high schools that had long since closed.  

So? This is business, first. Education second. The customer wants an education. He has money (often in the form of federal loans). Give the customer what he or she wants.  

This is unfettered capitalism at its best. 

WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION do students receive for their money? Many enroll in online classes and proceed at their own pace. Luckily, investigators discovered commercial colleges were highly accommodating when it came to measuring pace and grading work. Sometimes, faux students purposely did wrong assignments. They passed with flying colors. Let’s try turning in plagiarized material and see what happens. Hey, we still got A’s!

Let’s try not turning in anything and not even bother to log in and take the class. 

By god:  in the “business model” world, the paying customer still got A’s. 

Maybe, I’m being too harsh. Maybe the schools were looking for creativity. They certainly got that. One “student” in a class called Learning Strategies and Techniques, required for an associate degree in business (irony squared), turned in pictures of political figures and celebrities in response to essay questions and ignored on-line chats that were part of the class and passed anyway. 

At another college a student got an “A” on an assignment he never turned in (apparently the class was in Business and Magic).  

Here’s the moral of the story for you crappy public sector workers (especially you crappy teachers). There IS a better way. Just listen to Fox News if you don’t believe me. 

It’s the business model for education and it’s going to be great. 

In any case, Happy Thanksgiving to all, and if you happen to see Governor Walker, tell him, I’m thankful that Wisconsin has the recall.


  1. Please tell me the graphic of the paper with comment was a joke. (And lose the apostrophe in "capitalism at it's best" -- unless you're going for Jeffersonian usage, I guess.)

  2. Yes, the graphic is a joke; and yes, the apostrophe was a catastrophe. It's all better now. John J. Viall, the humble author