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Dan S.

And that's what happens when I rely just on uncertain memory (and let certain comments lead me to think she implied she wanted to send them back, as opposed to stating the grand mission of public ed.) instead of referring to the text . .
I read it again. Mostly what Super Blogger said.
Also: public good vs. private . . gain? not quite . . .
business techniques just aren't appropriate for schools because of these differences. . .
But really, the kids are the blueberries - you're mising the relevent points of comparison - what the blueberries are standing in for in the business setting - but I'm too sleepy to make any sense here . . . You're making it *too* exact. It doesn't correspond because - well, that's the basic point, the two frameworks don't correspond.

If it makes you happy, think about a gym that is open to all, serving people with varying degrees of training, fitness, motivation, intrinsic factors, workout knowledge, etc. vs. a gym serving a NBA team or something.

Also - without accepting failure, one can point out that often public expectations to not seem to consider this aspect of public schooling, such as not grasping the effects of major externalities.

Dan S.

My take on the blueberry story:
The teacher is trying to reject the idea that schools should be run like businesses as an idea based on a false comparison between the nature of schools and the nature of businesses. Because of the trickiness of language/frames, frustration, or whatever, she does an imperfect job, focusing on a detail that is relevent to the comparison but emotionally and ideologically negative.

In the story, it's *other people* who imagine schools to be like a business; the teacher is attempting to take down this misconception, but getting a little tangled up with it at the same time.

Dave Shearon

Super_blogger, I understand the claim that schools are not a business. (Let's not go into, right now, whether they are or are not -- it's not relevant here.) The point is that the teacher compared students to parts of a final product. That is a huge mistake. Further, to argue "We cannot control our raw materials and therefore cannot be held accountable for the quality of our product," is an argument that can ONLY be made when one is operating on a poor understanding of what schools are.

Let's take another example: Jaime Escalante. Did he have better "blueberries" than teachers in other LA high schools who didn't even attempt to get inner-city hispanic kids to take AP Calculus? You're durn tootin' he did! He had better lesson plans. He had more and better examples, analogies, motivational schemes, home visits, after-school and Saturday sessions, etc. He built a better "feeder" system. And so on and so forth.

The teacher who looks at students as limiting the quality of his product will inevitably underestimate those students AND excuse himself for responsibility for the product for which he (working within the culture of his school and with other teachers) is ultimately responsible for: quality learning experiences.


However, what the teachers fail to understand is that the public would prefer to have high school graduates that function at the 12th grade level instead of having everyone finishing high school despite their level of educational achievement.

To use the blueberry story analogy, the teacher is arguing that no matter how bad the ingredients, the process, and the products, the ice cream factory must put a premium sticker on the end product. That is just what people do not want the schools to do.


But Dave, you may be making a wrong assumption.

You think there is something wrong with the blueberry story because you seem to be assuming that the teacher WANTS to send "defective" students "back." I am going to give this teacher the benefit of the doubt.

She may be actually proving your point, students are NOT blueberries, or products or defective products or anything to do with products. She is making the point that schools ARE service organizations, AND in that way she is pointing out why the ice cream company has a different mission than the public school.

As she says, "That's why this is school, not business." They weed materials out and we take human beings and try to teach, consult, facilitate and coach them to improve themselves.

We don't reject any student, regardless of whether they meet some predetermined set of characteristics (except for chronological age which seems to be acceptable to most of society.)

I think most of these business analogies fall short when applied to education.

Maybe I'll try to get Jamie Vollmer to explain it to us. Maybe he knows what she actually meant.

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    January 21 "Resilience for Law Students, George Washington University School of Law, Washington, DC

    February 13-15 American Association of School Administrators National Conference, Nashville, TN