Over the past couple of decades, how many times have we heard politicians, corporate leaders, and other education “experts” declare that we should be running schools more like a business?

That’s the concept Larry Cuban addresses in a recent post in which he asks What Do Corporate Earnings Reports and School Test Scores Have in Common?.

His basic observation is that, under pressure to improve their score card, both companies and schools frequently change their practices to favor the short term bottom line instead of building for long term strength and growth.

Sometimes, as we’ve seen all too often in recent events, through unethical and illegal methods.

However, even worse is the fact that both earnings reports and test scores offer a very incomplete, and usually misleading, picture.

Just as earnings statements are too narrow a measure of corporate performance, test scores barely cover what students are expected to learn in schools. Civic engagement, knowledge of the humanities, building moral character, working in teams, critical thinking, and independent decision making — historic aims of public schools — are missing from standardized tests.

Moreover, if earnings reports mislead investors as to the actual worth of the firm, standardized test scores mislead parents about the actual performance of their children.

And so we have, as Cuban points out, the irony of “business leaders pushing onto schools narrow and misleading measures of student performance while harboring their own narrow and deceptive measures”.

Unfortunately, those business leaders just don’t get the irony.