While catching up on the large pile of magazines on my desk, I came across this exchange about No Child Left Behind printed in the New Yorker Magazine and reported in Technology and Learning magazine. It certainly shook my holiday mood.
"It is hard to look at the new [No Child Left Behind] legislation and not share in its Fordist vision of the classroom as a brightly lit assembly line, in which curriculum standards sail down from Washington through a chute, and fresh-scrubbed, defect-free students come bouncing out the other end. It is an extraordinary vision, particularly at a time when lawmakers seem mostly preoccupied with pointing out all the things that government cannot do. The only problem, of course – and it’s not a trivial one – is that children aren’t widgets."
– Malcolm Gladwell, "Making the Grade," New Yorker, Sept. 15, 2003
"Henry Ford created a world-class company, a leader in its industry. More important, Ford would not have survived the competition had it not been for an emphasis on results. We must view education the same way. Good schools do operate like a business. They care about outcomes, routinely assess quality, and measure the needs of the children they serve."- Rod Paige in a letter to the editor, New Yorker, Oct. 6, 2003
NO, Dr. Paige! Good schools do NOT “operate like a business”. Maybe the front office does, but the classrooms operate as a learning community with everyone involved in everyone’s learning. I’ve been fortunate to have taught in some excellent schools and they were about as far from Ford’s model as you can get.