If The World Were Like
the Public Education System
by Kevin C. Killion
If the computer industry were like public education:
You (and everyone else) would pay a huge tax in order to fund Microsoft,
regardless of whether you owned five, one, or no computers.
You would have no control over what gets sent to you from Microsoft,
how it works, or even whether it works. The Microsoft programmers
would be protected by lifetime jobs, whether they are competent or not,
and they would be encouraged to add experimental features to your
software even if they caused your system to crash.
If you weren't happy with this arrangement, you would be free to
buy some other computer system, but you'd get no support for that,
and you'd still have to pay the tax
to pay for the computer you're not using.
If food stores were like public education:
Your state would be divided into Food Districts, each staffed by a
series of highly paid administrators who would write memos to each
other about what foods they thought people in their district should eat.
At no time would anyone actually study what foods people liked, or
if it did them any good.
These administrators would then decide what foods you would be assigned,
and how much you must pay for them. If you complain that every meal on
every day is loaded with mint and you don't like mint, they will send
you copies of memos they've written to each other about why you need more mint.
If you object that you are allergic to rice but that every meal they
supply has rice, they might suggest that you need a special counselor
to deal with your attitude about your rice, but you still get rice because
it's important for your cultural awareness.
You will not get any meat at any time, because it's been decided that
it's bad for you.
You are free to buy food from other sources if you can find any, but if
you do, you won't get any food at all from the official store.
And you still have to pay for all the mint and rice that you're not using.
You could move to a neighboring Food District. But it's entirely
possible that you'll discover that while this other district
doesn't share the same enthusiasm about mint and rice, they do have a thing about
using lots and lots of walnuts. And they don't offer any meat either.
If a school administrator ran a Rotary club
There would only be a single club you would be allowed to join.
There would be many fund-raisers for various causes, but there
would be no discussion about whether these causes have any accomplishments.
Charities that have been around the longest get the most money,
regardless of whether than accomplish anything more than newer charities.
A great deal of money would go to building lavish new offices for charities.
There is no choice in the meal you are served at meetings.
You get the same meal at every meeting, though different people get different things.
What you get depends on your home street address.
If you don't like your meal, you can send it back to the kitchen, but you get no replacement.
If you quit the club, you still have to pay dues -- forever.
If the highway system were like public education
There would be only one highway, and it would only have one destination.
The highway board wouldn't want to inequitably favor drivers that want
to go faster, nor would they want to make drivers of slower cars feel bad,
so therefore there would only be one lane, and the speed limit
would be 30 mph, no faster and no slower. Since some cars may not be able to attain even that
speed, there would be lots of exit ramps -- they don't really need to
go to the destination.
There would be many curves, switchbacks and loops so that you can be
exposed to higher-order driving skills. As a result, a linear distance of
ten miles would take about 50 miles of driving. However, everyone would
be equipped with CB radios so they can discuss everything, even though
no one has a clue about where all the curves are going.
There would be no maps or guidebooks, since the highway board has
decided everything for you. The roadside would be decorated with huge, animated,
DayGlo color, flashing billboards every 150 feet reminding you to stay
focused on the road. If you failed to stay focused despite all the
helpful reminders, you would be given regular doses of a stimulant.
This one highway would be a tollway, and there would be periodic tollbooths
to collect a huge fee. You can choose to use another road if
you can find one, but then you have to mail in the toll to
pay for the official road.
If soccer were like public education
To ensure that all members of all teams feel successful, no scores
will be kept and no winners will be announced. It is more important
that the team learn the process, and finish the game at the skill
level determined by the coach, than to win.
Everyone should play to their highest potential, as long as that
does not exceed the coaches' pre-determination.
To make sure everyone meets all the outcomes, skill-challenged
players must be given more practice time and coaching. During games,
anyone who becomes goal-deficient, goes offside, fouls, or displays
an uncooperative attitude toward the process, will be remediated during time-outs.
The skill-enriched players must sit on the bench, helping to coach
the others until they demonstrate the right moves, or engage in
enrichment activities such as playing tag.
Naturally, all this takes much more time, so a 10 am game
might go on into the evening.
All teams will complete exactly 12 games and will receive the same recognition. No records will be kept, no statistics will be needed, nor will there be any need for play-offs, all-star teams, or recognition banquets. Trophies will be meaningless, but every player and coach will get one, and they will all be identical.
Psycho-behavioral soccer experts feel that this will increase the self-esteem of every player, who will feel great about his or her accomplishments. Playing any games against teams that don't have the same regulations is discouraged. It would be unfair competition to play against teams that emphasize excellence and winning. In any case, the peer pressure of not being part of our league will be sufficient motivation to cause the "traditional" team to conform to the Outcome-Based Soccer Model.
Same Idea, Other Writers
Bad Apples and Public Schools
by Terence Jeffrey, November 29, 2006.
"Suppose there were a law that forced you to pay a government agency for apples
you were supposed to feed your children.
The government didn't care if you grew your own apples or if your neighbor grew
apples you liked better than the government's brand -- the law compelled you to
pay for the state's product whether you wanted it for your children or not.
Now, suppose many people who actually fed their children public apples discovered
something wrong with them. Some apples were bitter, others mushy and others
rotten to the core.
When they complained to the public-apple agencies, agency bureaucrats and their
union would say: "Excuse me, the bad apples are not our fault. You need to give
us more money so we can build better apple storage facilities, and so we can pay
better wages to apple handlers."
So the government forced everybody to pay more for its apples.
Now, the public-apple agencies built beautiful new apple storage facilities. They
paid their apple handlers handsomely. Still, a disturbing number of apples
remained bitter, mushy or rotten to the core."
by Andrew J. Coulson, American Spectator, November 13, 2006.
"Imagine what would happen if coffee shops were run like schools. Let's say that
state and local officials granted Starbucks a 'public coffee' franchise, paying
it $10,000 annually per customer (about what the public schools spend per pupil)
to keep us all in caffeinated bliss. ... the decision to let Starbucks give its
product away for free would drive most other suppliers out of business. ... But
that would be just the beginning. Once Starbucks had a guaranteed source of tax
revenue, customer satisfaction would fall by the wayside as a motivating
principle of its business. ... Another cost-saving move that Starbucks might
adopt would be to eliminate customers' ability to choose even from among its own
shops ... After all, if customer satisfaction doesn't
affect your bottom line, why allow customers to gallivant all over the city? Much
more efficient to assign customers to a single shop, whether they like it or not."
"What if Research Really Mattered?" by Diane Ravitch,
Education Week, December 16, 1998.
"I went to the emergency room of the local hospital ...
I had a sudden insight: I was deeply grateful that my treatment
was based on medical research, and not education research."
Home Eating a Threat to Public Kitchens?
State Allows Growing Trend of Eating At Home
by Angela Paul
Balanced Golf Instruction
by Dr Kerry Hempenstall, RMIT University. Excerpt:
"We know intuitively that golf is an irreducibly holistic experience best learned
by authentic experiences. We enter all our novices in the US Open because that's
authentic golf. The teacher's role is that of motivator/facilitator - we empower
our students to grow in golf while experiencing a sense of enchantment . We do
not teach skills, of course, even though some emerging golfers may naively
request help with their swing. We explain that swing is only a sub-skill of golf,
and to emphasise it out of the context of authentic golf is time-wasting, or even
If School Districts Sold Cars, from
CRAFT, Citizens for Reasonable and Fair Taxes.
"Imagine that the production of
washing machines had become
the exclusive province of the government." by David M. Brown
"If the teachers unions ran the NFL, all players would be paid
according to their years in the league.
If the team needed a quarterback and a great rookie prospect were available,
the team would have to pay him less than a third-string defensive lineman."
-- Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas, September 14, 2003
If "Mainstream" Educators Trained Olympic Athletes:
"U.S. Olympic Committee met for its annual retreat to learn the latest
findings from advanced research in education, and to determine if some
of the new, groundbreaking education ideas, developed in the country's
most prestigious education schools, might be appropriate to their own
New Course Proposal:
In the True Spirit of Restructuring
(Written by Martha and Richard Schwartz)
We have noticed that very few students really do all that well at sports,
and only a few elite bodies get to play varsity football.
Change is obviously needed. Announcing SPORTS ONE! for all students.
(Where this has been tried before, there has been a big increase
in students taking up professional hockey as upperclassmen.)
Eleven Principles for Principals
- Use cooperative learning strategies. No team may score more points than the weakest member.
- Structure activities around the "great themes" of sports. For example, the first unit might concentrate on activities involving water, another on ones in which balls move up and down a field or court, and a third on those requiring heavy duty safety equipment. Do something entirely different each day to keep the students engaged.
- All classes must do the same activity concurrently. If this puts a heavy demand on diving boards, so be it.
- Take things slowly, so no student is required to confront his or her strengths and weaknesses. (Someone might lose self-esteem!) One day, for example, everyone could kick a football once, then stand around, or perhaps color their sports posters.
- Make all coaches teach all sports. The football coach will really love teaching synchronized swimming.
- Avoid rule books and such, if at all possible. (We don't want to encourage reading and lecturing!) In a pinch, photocopy stray pages and hand them out to other coaches. Provide these "plans" proudly to other schools, ignoring copyright laws whenever necessary.
- Teaching loads in sports may inadvertently increase. If so, enlist science teachers as part-time coaches. The level is so low, anyone can handle it.
- Put all the kids on the same team. If someone complains about the short, slow, clumsy, uninterested kids on the basketball squad, cry "racist!"
- Make up new rules as necessary. The traditional ones may be too complicated, and you may not know them, anyway. And certainly don't require, or give, the dreaded "test" on any sports principles or skills (or anything else.) There are other ways to assess learning. I suggest the sportsfolio.
- Give coaches very little warning and two weeks in the summer for planning.
- Wonder why the parents vote for "voucher sports camps."
The article below appears in a slighty different form at
What If Supermarkets Were Run Like Schools?
Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph
What if Supermarkets Were Run Like Schools?
Luckily for us, groceries are not considered essential
By Mark Harrison
Imagine if we ran our supermarkets the way we run our schools.
Due to the importance of equality of opportunity to buy groceries and to protect children from starvation due to negligent and ignorant parents buying the wrong groceries, we would have government-provided supermarkets, financed by taxes, at which shoppers could get their groceries for free.
Under the new arrangement, customers are forced to shop at the supermarket in their suburb, and they are able to change to another government supermarket only with permission and subject to room at that supermarket. Private supermarkets exist, but customers have to pay for their groceries at them.
The public supermarkets in each area are run by huge supermarket boards. Pay, staffing and working conditions are centrally determined via negotiations with the unions. The number of staff in each position is strictly regulated. And although the public supermarkets would seem to be overmanned, particularly when compared to the private sector, checkout queues are much longer and the shelves frequently are empty. Cuts in the equipment budget mean that shopping trolleys are very old, most with three or four wobbly wheels.
There are many laments about the quality of public supermarkets. The opposition parties, for example, make strident demands for more spending on public supermarkets. Bans on private supermarkets are proposed periodically so that the rich will use their political influence to keep the quality of public supermarkets high. Many politicians, bureaucrats and public supermarket employees do their own shopping at the private markets however.
Media reporting of supermarket issues is usually based on "facts" supplied by the well-organized public supermarket lobby group.
The products stocked on public supermarket shelves are a controversial political issue, subject to much special interest pressure. Public supermarkets stock Canadian goods only, and no cigarettes or alcohol. A campaign has been mounted for a national shelf-stocking policy outlawing all fatty foods and environmentally-unfriendly products.
Managers are appointed by a local board of trustees on which the Supermarket Employees' Union has substantial representation. All hiring is done through the central department. High school leavers who want to be checkout operators have to do a special course in the faculty of shopping at a local community college. Subjects studied include the sociology of shopping.
Pay depends mainly on seniority, and promotion is limited to those who show support for the government's social justice aims.
Although there is much academic research into appropriate shelf-stocking policies, optimal supermarket size and various measures of supermarket productivity, very little of the research is used by those operating supermarkets. Despite the lack of evidence that lower staff-customer ratios are related to better results, for example. there is much pressure to decrease them.
Proposals that supermarkets be open weekends, public holidays and after 5:00 pm, like some private supermarkets, are quashed by industry representatives, claiming that most consumers do not want to shop at these times. Instead, more "customer-free" days are proposed, so that staff from different supermarkets can liaise and discuss product selection.
If economists proposed that:
- supermarkets be allowed to organize themselves;
- new supermarkets be free to open;
- customers be given the right to choose which supermarket to shop at; and that
- supermarkets be accountable to customers rather than the central bureaucracy;
...producer interests would come out strongly against the proposals, arguing that untrained customers couldn't possibly judge what is an appropriately stocked shelf and that the poor would suffer the most.
We should be thankful that politicians consider running shops
trivial enough to leave to the private sector. Or is it too important to be left to the government?
Pilot Training Schools
Those of us who have been involved with pilot training for the major airlines all
these years have finally realized that the "drill and kill" methods we have been
using in our classes in navigation, flight controls, radio procedures, safety
procedures, and so on, have probably killed the natural love of flying in too
many of our graduates. When airline pilots get into the cockpit, why should they
be so focused on the flight plan, the fuel load, the number of passengers, the
weight of the aircraft, the altimeter reading, and all of that, to the exclusion
of the joy of soaring into the clouds, flexing their wings, as it were, and just
having Fun with flying?
Those conservatives will probably say that any change might result in more
mid-air collisions, passenger fatalities, and all that, but that is just typical
of the whole "teach to the test" crowd who are trying to drive all the pleasure
out of our flying schools and out of flying itself.
We are thinking of changing our courses to give our candidates more chances to
write about how flying makes them feel, how being the captain of a 777 benefits
their self-esteem and their feeling of being important to others. By doing away
with grades, we can increase the actual enjoyment candidates can have in talking
about flying stories and the fun they expect to have in flying. We don't want
anyone to get a bad grade, as that may negatively affect their attitudes when in
the cockpit, and might make them feel unworthy of flying 300 people or so from
place to place.
To those who say that if we don't Drill in our flying school, then our graduates
will probably Kill, we just remind them that school should be a time of Joy, not
of Anxiety, and only those whose time is Up are likely to die anyway...