When education is conceived in terms of inputs leading to measurable outputs, or in terms of targets which constitute the performance indicators against which learning can be audited, or when teachers are seen as curriculum deliverers, or when cuts in resources are referred to as efficiency gains, then education is being conceived very differently from how it was seen only a few decades ago. …. Change the metaphor, and you change the understanding of the aims of education and the values which such aims embody.
A similar perspective has invaded the management of NYC schools during this administration. Joel Klein tries to justify inflated salaries (and a huge PR staff) by saying that they are "running a $20 billion company" and could earn three times as much in the private sector. (Then send them back!) See also all the chief officers of this and that who inhabit the elegant halls of Tweed --a chief accountability officer (earning $196,000), a chief knowledge officer ($177,000), a chief talent officer ($172,000) and a chief portfolio officer ($162,000).
What’s funny (or sad) is that few impartial observers in the UK think that the Blair/Barber reforms have been successful, just as there are extremely few in NYC who currently believe in the Bloomberg/Klein initiatives -- so much so that a recent article in Education Next was forced to quote a hedge fund manager who supports charter schools in their defense.
See this semi-amusing tidbit from an interview with Joel Klein published in the British Guardian in 2006:
Klein is a fan of Blair's education reforms and "learnt a lot" from talking to Sir Michael Barber, the former No 10 education adviser. "The UK is performing better on international tests and moving in the right direction," he says. "They have a lot of the challenges we have." He is surprised when I mention the sense of failure, especially in London. "The work just hasn't finished," he says, blithely.
But Barber cleverly keeps traveling to new climes, before his failures can catch up with him. He seems to continually find new people to pay him for his advice, as he merrily trips along. His motto? If "everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.”
For the entire Pring letter, see Diane Ravitch's posting in the Huffington Post.