Yes, I kid you not. That’s how City Center Parking magnate and downtown Portland developer Greg Goodman kicks off his Oregonian op-ed in opposition to the upcoming Portland Public Schools bond measure.
Imagine that you're an investor in a shoe company….[S]omething is wrong at the business because many shoes are dropping off the assembly line and nearly half of the shoes don't complete the manufacturing process on time…and company policy requires that the first ones fired are the employees most recently hired, even if they're producing higher-quality shoes than employees who've been there longer.
However you may feel about the measure, can we please agree that students are not in fact anything like shoes; that education is not anything like a manufacturing process; and that wave after wave of education reforms driven by a corporate “manage them like businesses” mentality have been driven far more by ideology and hype than by results?
That’s certainly the thrust of the evidence Diane Ravitch has assembled in her recent book about education reform and that Robert Folmer laid out succinctly in an Oregonian op-ed last month, Education reform: Our children are not widgets.
So, no, Mr. Goodman – I really don’t want to imagine that running a school system is like running a shoe factory. We’ve seen what free market fundamentalism has wrought on the economy, and there’s no reason to keep subjecting our educational system to such misguided analogies. Michael Bloomberg is learning that the hard way in New York, as are the residents of DC in the wake of the current testing scandal. It would be good for all of us if we could move beyond such banalities in Portland.