Business coalitions have pushed for a more business-like approach in schools. Craig Barrett, CEO of the US-based Intel Corporation, claimed: “We need to provide our public schools with what business brings to the table: our emphasis on setting goals, measuring results, and getting things done.”
Chris Whittle, who founded Edison charter schools said the “biggest contribution business can make to education is to make education a business”.
However businesspeople had no deep understanding of educational processes; how they are fundamentally different from production processes and why they cannot be judged by the same criteria. Writing in the business magazine Fortune, financial journalist Peter Brimelow, cheerfully put aside issues of quality to compare learning to factory production:
Leaving quality questions aside, public school productivity, measured by the number of employees required to process a given number of students, seems to have declined by 46% between 1957 and 1979. Even the poor old steel industry managed to increase its output per worker-hour 36% during that same period. Overall business sector productivity rose 65%.
In 1990 the Wall Street Journal lauded the Kellman Corporate Community Elementary School, named after a Chicago businessman closely involved in its formation, as the new model of school education:
"Schoolhouse and board room have merged at the Corporate/Community School. Dismayed by the faulty products being turned out by Chicago’s troubled schools, some 60 of the city’s giant corporations have taken over the production line themselves… For the corporate school’s founders are after something rarely seen in urban schools today: productivity. And they vow to solve the central dilemma of school reform: how to vastly improve education quality for all children without a vast increase in costs… The key, the school’s founders believe, is in the corporate management model."
Corporate-financed political parties and their policy makers adopted the business model for schools and schools had little choice but to adapt.
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