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It is a great formula: Lobby the nation to go to war over false pretenses. Stir up as much fear as possible. Ignore and discredit those who claim the threat is misrepresented. Destroy the target with impunity. Give huge government contracts to the predetermined private think-tanks and publishing houses and multi-national firms who have some capability to restore infrastructure—and who have friends in high places. Pay them (often former government officials) large salaries and amazing bonuses to reassemble the parts in a form that will continue to reap huge profits for themselves. And the most insidious piece of the puzzle—don’t hold the private contractors accountable for their actions.

No, I am not talking about Iraq. I am talking about the War on Public Education. Same exact formula. Really. As we all now know, in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, our leaders had to convince us that there existed a cause (WMD’s) worthy of destroying a nation. (Just think about that thought for a second!) In the war on Public Education, the new, but just as imaginary, Weapons of Mass Destruction are the oft-reported shortage of scientists and engineers, the so-called deplorable graduation rates, the ever-present low test scores, and the increasing need for remedial classes in college. Each of those charges is as fraudulent as any claims about WMD’s. (In a recent diaryI documented how much of the complaint against Public Ed. is unfounded and often totally fabricated.)

So in any questionable war, the war makers and profiteers need to provide us with a good story, an evil enemy or a fearful cause. STEM gaps, engineer shortages, testing shortfalls are the pitch the fear-mongers hope we buy in order get us to sign off on destroying the infrastructure: “Be afraid. Be very afraid. We are failing to educate our kids for world dominance. We are falling behind other nations who will dominate the world if we are not prepared to do so. Finland, South Korea and Singapore will fling Educational Weapons of Mass Destruction at us and we will be defenseless against their onslaught! Help us tear it down and we will rebuild it for you." Doesn't your common sense tell you at some level that this argument is absurd? But the drumbeats of propaganda and pervasive dishonesty are difficult to combat. Well-meaning legislators and citizens on all sides of the aisle are moved to entertain and fund this war. They cry: “We must fix Public Education! We must find and destroy the WMD’s!”

Whenever a war like this comes along there are those select movers and shakers who demonstrate their incredible patriotism and commitment to improving our nation. They are standing by ready to do the rebuilding. In the Iraqi War it was Haliburton, KBR, Blackwater. In the War on Public Education it is the American Legislative Exchange Council, Pearson, RAND, AEI, and so many others. These great patriots are prepared to combat the terror that Public Education has inflicted on the nation through a new (but really old) initiative: Market Solutions. (This paragraph brought to you by the Department of Really Bad Satire.)

I am convinced that many in the Current Education Reform Movement, a great euphemism for the War on Public Education, mean well. But they are misguided (I won’t get any nicer than that.) Market Solutions in the field of education are simply a mega-hoax being perpetrated on the American people in the name of large profits for whichever vendors and providers can get in on the earliest waves of the movement. And just as the contractors lobbied hard for their share of the billions of dollars suddenly in the marketplace during Iraq and Afghanistan nation building, the Education lobbyists and corporate reps are ready to get their share of the plunder. They are fighting for their position at the trough.

In order to understand the Market Solution movement in education, it is necessary to get outside of the education world and see what Market Solutions means in the competitive corporate world of profit making. In that world, where the bottom line is paramount and where shareholders’ return is the ultimate test of success, Market Solutions seem to cover a lot of ground. There are, however, several concepts that consistently appear in the literature: efficiency, profitability, sustainability, data analysis, competition, increased market share and promotion.  In the business of education these get translated into increased privatization, in the form of both public charter school and private schools. Ironically, Market Solutions often demand an increased accountability in public schools while lessening accountability in charter and private schools. And of course, one hallmark of every Market Solution Plan is the demand for the dissolution of the teachers’ unions. Basically, the Market Solution folks say, if we make these changes, the Market will solve the problems. (Yes, those pesky problems in schools that are already being corrected at record rates.)

Kevin G. Wellner, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, School of Education, specializing in educational policy and law, and Director of the CU-Boulder National Education Policy Center (NEPC), put it this way:

The Duncan-Obama approach should sound familiar, even to those who do not follow education policy discussions. Defund, deregulate, de-unionize, and shift to the private sector. Reallocate policy-making authority from democratic institutions to a wealthy oligarchy. Corporate-endowed think tanks like AEI have been successfully promoting this road map for everything else, so why not education? (Wellner, 2011)
Should parents and communities be paying careful attention to those who would “fix” education’s ills using Market Solutions as the guiding principles? Of course. But many of these ideas seem on the surface to be reasonable. Do taxpayers have a right to demand accountability for how their taxes are spent? Yes. Should classroom teachers, school building administrators and district level superintendents have ongoing, consistent methods of data assessment to help them reflect on the success of their practice? Absolutely. Should parents have choice in a competitive system of schools where those competing schools and programs offer a variety of experiences and focus? Yes, if done right. Should profitability have anything to do with providing learning opportunities to children? Definitely not.

The research confirms that American Public Schools are doing a better job of educating our children that ever before. Yet we know that we can do a better job of meeting the needs of all students. But will these “solutions” actually solve anything? According to Helen Ladd, Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy Studies and professor of economics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy:

Overall, the evidence suggests that the economic model of markets does not translate easily into the provision of compulsory education. Nonetheless, many of the concepts underlying education markets, such as consumer choice, flexibility for schools, and incentives for them to raise the quality of education, are worth pursuing. The challenge for urban policy makers is to find ways to introduce these ideas while at the same time promoting the public interest that, ultimately, provides the rationale for a publicly funded and compulsory education system.
Ladd goes on to state:
Like public school systems in many other large U.S. cities, the Washington, D.C. school system faces serious challenges, many of which are related to its high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students. Because one size school does not fit all and because students from low-income families tend to have far fewer schooling options than do students from higher income families, I support efforts to give low-income families more choice. The argument for greater choice is far more compelling, however, when it is cautiously applied to schools within the public sector than when it is extended to private schools, as would be the case under HR 684. This conclusion follows because policy makers are in a better position to assure fair access to public than to private schools and to hold schools that are publicly operated or publicly chartered and funded accountable to the public.  (Ladd, Market Based Reforms in Urban Education, 2002)
The real problem with Market Solutions is that they have no humanity. Profits based on efficiency and large economies of scale will require changes that are truly frightening. In the name of efficiency, students will have to get seriously tracked by academic levels. That will be determined by test scores. If you are quick to say, “This is good. We will finally challenge our very best and brightest.” Are you willing to see the other side of that coin? Efficiency will demand that there are winners and losers. What kinds of schools will we end up with? Some very good ones, no doubt. But there will be some very bad ones, no doubt. For most students it will be much worse. You doubt me? Remember that Market Solutions demand efficiency and efficiency demands specialization. Specialization demands narrow focus. Schools will want to keep up their statistical claims to be the best because competition will be strong and people are going to choose based on the best story line out there. Potential losers—students with IEPs, a history of discipline issues, students in poverty—will be too risky to enroll. The actuaries will start an entire new cottage industry rating students as risk potentials for schools. If you rate an 8-10 you’re in. 1-4 won’t even get you in the door. And so Market Solutions tries to eliminate people from the business of people. Much like the health insurance companies, when left to decide for themselves, have shown a strong desire to refuse to provide health care, Market Solutions in education, left to decide for themselves, will show a strong desire to refuse to provide educational services. In the name of efficiency.

Market Solutions are big business—literally. So do we want to turn over the reins to those whose Market Solutions are built on profitability and high return on investment? Should we “Reallocate policy-making authority from democratic institutions to a wealthy oligarchy”? What would that wealthy oligarchy’s motives be? What would their goals be?

Consider this: When profits are the rule and efficiency is the way, then learning is not the goal. It is only a happenstance.

http://talktothemike.com/

 Works Cited

Ladd, H. F. (2002). Market Based Reforms in Urban Education. Economic Policy Institute.

Ladd, H. F. (2003). School Vouchers Don’t Make The Grade.

Wellner, K. G. (2011, Spring). Re-Imagining Education Reform. Retrieved from Dissent: http://www.colorado.edu/...

Originally posted to talktothemike on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  True - with any corporation w/ shareholders, (11+ / 0-)

    the law compels them to get profits to the shareholders and does not consider whether or not the corporation accomplishes what its business ostensibly DOES.  So, the first priority of these companies is seek payment from school districts and pass it along to shareholders.    Educating students is somewhere down the list of priorities.

    "This is the best bad idea we have by far..." ~Argo

    by MsGrin on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:25:34 PM PDT

  •  Our public schools (0+ / 0-)

    have failed poor and minority children. The status quo will not be accepted. Change is coming

    Throughout my entire public career I have followed the personal philosophy that I am a free man, an American, a public servant, and a member of my party, in that order always and only." -- LBJ

    by moderatemajority on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 06:54:12 PM PDT

  •  One of the problems that we have (5+ / 0-)

    is that there hasn't been a really definitive study of the value of education in terms of lifetime salary that I know of - at least not recently. And I'm not sure what value or validity it would have if someone ran one. Measuring educational attainment is fairly simple.  Measuring competence is much harder. Checking whether competence and education, and salary or wages, have anything to do with each other - that's a can of worms.

    As long as that correlation is so fuzzy, "market forces" seem to make as much sense as the competing theories, and scare tactics have a lot of room to propagate.

    I suspect that the colleges are as much to blame in this as any other institution. After all, if you're selling a four year degree as a necessity, you're not going to try to make the case for two years of independent study and an apprenticeship, even if that were all the training that was really needed.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:22:18 PM PDT

    •  So true. (9+ / 0-)

      And a great point. In an earlier diary I point out that colleges like to blame high schools for not preparing students enough for college level classes. They point to the number of remedial classes offered at the college level. But they are trying to have it both ways. Those remedial classes are big business on campuses. But even more relevant is the fact that those remedial classes are filled not because students are less prepared but because colleges have insisted on accepting a much higher percentage of high school students, and in the process they are admitting the next tier of students. They recruit them, tell them how important college is, then complain that they aren't ready for college--while taking their tuition money.

      •  There's also new evidence that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, dicentra

        many of these kids are unnecessarily placed in remedial classes, that instead placing them based on their grades in high school produces a more accurate and appropriate result.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:45:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have spoken with many (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, AoT, dicentra

          college admission counselors who tell me--surprise, surprise--that the leading indicator of success in college is GPA. That is the very last thing the standardize testing folks want anyone to know. All the talk of inflated grades and unfair comparisons between schools goes out the window. GPA seems to be an indicator of someone who will actually do the work and get it turned in. SAT and ACT scores cannot do that. Once again the Emperor has no clothes.

          Thanks. You always make solid comments. I appreciate them.

      •  But not only money is taken (4+ / 0-)

        In the 1970's, I flunked a shocking number of the students in an intro class I taught at a big city university that admitted students who didn't have the skills necessary to comprehend intro texts and or even to write a complete sentence.  

        The university then just tossed those students out.  No remedial classes were offered - just a label of 'failure' to carry the rest of their lives.  

        It made me sick at heart.  The kids weren't stupid, but they were, now and forever after, 'failures.'  

        How do you quantify that loss?  

        •  Thanks for sharing. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL

          I know I sound like an apologist for the system and I really am not. We have lots of shortcomings. We try hard to make a system of one-size-fits-all. We do waste money. And we are really into labeling kids.

          If I take anything from your comment it would be that the humanity of our profession should always come first.

    •  Lifetime Salary is a Market Factor. (5+ / 0-)

      There are other benefits of education.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:29:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. And I think it most highly correlates (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, lostinamerica, JanL

        with parental income rather than educational attainment, at least in the last twenty years or so.

        Still, if there were a way to effectively correlate education to income, especially comparing breadth of education versus depth, it would be incredibly useful in this discussion.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:00:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There Used to Be. I Worked Placement at Lib Arts (6+ / 0-)

          college as support staff in the 80's.

          At that time, the typical lib arts grad started out earning less than the biz and engineering grads did. Roughly 15 years out, they reached parity, and then the lib arts grads did better for the rest of their careers. The explanation given for the stats was that the lib arts grads had more diverse education making them more adaptable and flexible, so they were better management material after a period of on the job training.

          But those stats were based on The Great New Deal Anomaly when the US was nearly civilized. By the time I got to this job we had already liberated the top individuals and businesses from the most important restraints that created the brief period of American industrial-era civilization. So the world we were sending our grads out into already no longer resembled the world we understood we'd prepared them for.

          A further problem is that in the interval information tech came online, and I suspect that it replaced much of the functioning of management that used to require individual human problem solving. Not to mention the advances in understanding of human psychology that allowed for further increases of algorithm-driven management that info tech could relieve thinking managers of.

          The society and our educational system have been being changed so much by its owners over the past 40 years that there may well not be a way to make the comparison you seek. Every kind of work can be imported from cheaper locations than the US; knowledge work is the most efficient to outsource because it is the most expensive and there is zero cost of importing knowledge solutions, compared to goods which have significant transportation costs.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:17:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The absurdity is that with information (0+ / 0-)

            tech we should have seen management spending drop and instead it's skyrocketed.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 01:15:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Umm... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        talktothemike, elfling

        I'm not so sure.  Don't know quite where I saw it (I tend to ingest information without worrying too much about keeping track of the sources) but there was a study out in the last couple of weeks that showed a high correlation between parental income and salary distribution - I'd like to see a study that specifically pulled that factor out of the equation.

        On the other hand "If you want to make more than lots of men, and you're a woman, then go into engineering." frosted my cupcake.  

        Having done exactly that, my experience is that the money isn't generally worth having to deal with the aggravation. Of course, having started reading science fiction back in the early '50s, I was convinced that Engineers Could Save the World (hey, I was only 16 at the time), and I took a lot of lumps before I realized it wasn't a good fit. I digress. Wildly.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:30:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch
      I suspect that the colleges are as much to blame in this as any other institution. After all, if you're selling a four year degree as a necessity, you're not going to try to make the case for two years of independent study and an apprenticeship, even if that were all the training that was really needed.
      Colleges are complete failures in this regard. If they weren't failures, we'd have many fewer English, history, communications, psychology/sociology, etc majors.

      They fail to educate their students about their likely prospects in these fields and the math involved and allow them to go into crushing non-dischargeable debt so their sociology department can still have jobs.

      I have a friend who went to a Boston-area college and got a  communications degree and now owes over $120k in student loan debt. Her college completely failed her and allowed her to effectively ruin her life and did nothing to stop her. Why would they, when her tuition and loans pay for expensive administrators, unnecessary facilities, and outsized retirement benefits for college staff? Now, hmm, guess what? Can't find a job that pays nearly enough to cover those loans.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:25:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two things here - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, JanL

        I have absolutely no idea how that kind of tuition is justified - my tuition (40 years ago, granted) was $600/semester.  Even accounting for inflation, it doesn't make sense that costs have risen that much.  The other is that it used to be that generalist degrees in the Arts - see Gooserock's posting above - had a much higher level of acceptance as a foundation for management positions.  Don't know quite when that changed, either, but probably with the rise of the MBA.

        But no, colleges mostly don't tell you that up front, and I don't know whether it's greed or the academic bubble effect that is the primary factor.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:46:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't really buy Gooserock's point... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          ...at least today.

          Management in most enterprises today requires a technical familiarity with whatever the organization actually does. That typically requires (today) some kind of technical expertise.

          Keep in mind that most technical schools require some liberal arts these days in order to graduate. So to manage your organization, do you want a well-rounded technical specialist, or an English major with no technical background (all things being equal)?

          Even accounting for inflation, it doesn't make sense that costs have risen that much
          There is little cost control incentive.

          Colleges (even non-profits) will always charge as much as they can get away with.

          Student loan companies know the loans are guaranteed and cannot be discharged, so they'll pretty much loan whatever the student asks for.

          The students is typically 16-18 when they are making these decisions. Getting paid and having bills of hundreds of dollars a week is quite outside their experience: they just say, hey, when I get a job I'll figure it out.

          What force is trying to keep costs low?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:06:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you make the logical error (4+ / 0-)

            of comparing the best of one situation "do you want a well-rounded technical specialist" with what you consider the worst of the other, "or an English major with no technical background." In the real world an employer would not be pitting those two against each other. They would be pitting a well rounded technical specialist against a well rounded liberal arts major. And while you may not like the comparison, the business world has been extremely vocal in its demand for liberal arts majors as management candidates. Sorry. Just true.

            Again, however, you don't have to buy anyone's point. Though reluctance to do so shows that you will make up your own mind in spite of the data. My experience with placement counselors at colleges is that they generally have the expertise and the experience to speak with some authority on this topic.

            FYI: not everyone charges as much as they can. You are running that one through your own  morality.

  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock
    Schools will want to keep up their statistical claims to be the best because competition will be strong and people are going to choose based on the best story line out there. Potential losers—students with IEPs, a history of discipline issues, students in poverty—will be too risky to enroll. The actuaries will start an entire new cottage industry rating students as risk potentials for schools.
    You forget: as a (potential) parent, I don't want my child in a school with students with IEPs or discipline problems. Nor do I care about the welfare of teachers' unions (I'm not against them as long as their interests coincide with those of my child, but the instant those interests diverge...).

    If you advertised a school that was exactly like a public school in every way, except all of the IEP/discipline/otherwise potentially disruptive students were removed, I would send my child there in a heartbeat.

    That may seem like a cold fact (what are we going to do about disadvantaged students), but as a parent that's someone else's problem. My interest is getting my student the best possible education and the welfare of disruptive students is a distant second.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:18:45 PM PDT

    •  You will like market solutions. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lostinamerica, OregonOak, Nattiq, JanL, AoT

      They require no conscience nor do they require any commitment to society. Of course as a libertarian you require no conscience nor commitment to society. The problem with your idea--as long as you get yours you are fine--is that it is very bad for society and eventually you would end up paying for it through increased crime or any other expensive social ills that end up costing society.

      As a libertarian how do you like driving on those socialist roads or flying out of socialist airports? How about socialized research at public institutions that develop things that make your life better? I have always wondered about the contradictions that a libertarian must face. If they are selfish enough, they don't seem to be bothered by them.

      •  Whoa (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        The instant you ask my child to make a significant sacrifice to improve the welfare of students with serious difficulties you've completely lost me.

        The problem with your idea--as long as you get yours you are fine--is that it is very bad for society and eventually you would end up paying for it through increased crime or any other expensive social ills that end up costing society.
        Yeah, but my child will get a much better job because they know chemistry and calculus rather than being distracted by the antics of less serious students (or even worse, being seduced by the behavior problems of bad students). I'll take that deal in a heartbeat.

        I'm not saying not to educate students with serious difficulties, but why allow my student's experience to be contaminated?

        As a libertarian how do you like driving on those socialist roads or flying out of socialist airports? How about socialized research at public institutions that develop things that make your life better? I have always wondered about the contradictions that a libertarian must face. If they are selfish enough, they don't seem to be bothered by them.
        Blah blah, I've addressed these issues before. There are some things the government does well. There are others it does poorly. I don't really have an opinion about education: in some places the public schools are excellent, in others, they are exceedingly poor. We don't need a one-size solution, we just need to collect the data and go where it leads us.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:40:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What significant sacrifice are you referring to? (7+ / 0-)

          I do not know of a single student I have ever seen--and it has been thousands--who have made any significant sacrifices for a student with an IEP. Small sacrifices
          that actually make them better members of society. But significant? No.

          It is nice to know that you have your future child's educational and social plans all laid out. You seem to believe that his or her intellect is already determined. Not to mention his or her interests. I am impressed that any non-parent is so convinced that they can have control over these issues. Every parent reading your post is having a nice chuckle at your expense. Good luck with that.

        •  By the way... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dicentra, Van Buren, elfling, JanL

          Contrary to popular belief, there is a bit of a glut on STEM grads looking for jobs. Supply and demand is not on their side.

          •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            talktothemike, JanL

            I can't find it right now, but recently I saw a well documented article that showed Liberal arts majors are doing much better at getting jobs in the current economy than STEM graduates.

          •  STEM is a very high friction labor market (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, nextstep, FG

            The needs are very specialized and the labor force doesn't always have exactly the right qualifications in the right location at the right time.

            For example, if you're a highly trained specialist in the flow of fluids over airfoils, there are only a handful of companies in the whole US that hire that skill. If they don't have an opening when you finish your Ph.D. you're SOL... and HR people at other companies tend not to realize how easily those skills transfer to the jobs they have open.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:20:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  High friction labor market. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL, elfling

              Haven't heard that term before. Could you explain it to me? I have some idea what it means but I'm not sure.

              •  It's my term, (4+ / 0-)

                and what I mean is that it's very hard for employers to find the right workers and for workers to find the jobs even when both exist.

                Several years ago, I was talking with an acquaintance who is a highly skilled waitress about the job market. She was appalled to hear that sometimes an employer would not call back within the week to say that the job was filled. In my perspective as a tech employer, I told her that often it would be months before the job was filled and that sometimes it would be a couple of weeks before we had completely dismissed a candidate.

                In her experience, she could very typically walk into a restaurant that was hiring and have a job that night.

                In tech, there is a substantial investment and risk to a new person because (if you're reasonable) you're going to be investing in their learning curve and hoping they'll mesh with your existing team well. It makes more sense to take a little time to find the right person than it does to snatch up just anyone. Tech jobs tend to be fairly different from each other - there's always project specific knowledge to sop up before you're truly productive.

                Sites like Monster.com in theory should solve this, but what happens is that there are just a lot of what I'll rudely call spam resumes out there - resumes from people who won't be a good fit for whatever reason - and spam jobs - jobs where the employer may be advertising for a position they don't intend to fill via a cold call resume. (They may have an internal candidate, friend of friend, or H1-B in mind.)

                HR people tend to create part of this problem too, because they want simple buzzword compliance. They want to find someone already doing the exact same job. The problem is, there is no one else doing the exact same job with the exact same technology. And because of the spammy effect, they don't realize how many talented people there are out there who could come up to speed on the company's project in just a few weeks of self-tutoring. Those hires happen mostly by word of mouth, so you're depending upon networks, friends of friends, etc.

                The other issue is geographic. It turns out that companies near other companies that need the same workers benefit from a pool of qualified people that tend to congregate. If you're say a big company based in Arkansas and you need talented programmers, and there aren't any being trained and developed nearby, you have to entice people to move to your HQ. But, those workers are skeptical - what if they don't like your company and have to move back? And what will the spouse do for work when there are no other tech companies there?

                So this is part of why that big company based in Arkansas is running much of its technology out of offices in high-cost California.

                Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                by elfling on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 12:05:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  "Contaminated"? (6+ / 0-)

          I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you got a little lost in your own rhetoric, but your assumption that every child with an IEP is dragging down your precious poopsie is not only wrong, but in fact misses that your child can benefit from knowing kids who are different.

          A lot of kids have IEPs, including a lot of gifted kids. Gifted kids, as it happens, are special needs too, including that special calculus class. ;-)

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:16:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The data shows that fully funding schools (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, talktothemike, LR Frederick

          highly correlates with their success. We keep trying to find a way around that but it keeps coming back. Market solutions will only make things worse by under funding schools further.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 01:24:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And as a (potential) parent (6+ / 0-)

      How will you feel if your child needs the IEP or special services of any kind?

    •  For Some Strange Reason Private Prep Schools (10+ / 0-)

      advertise strict screening systems, high rejection rates, oh and small class size. Certainly Romney's Cranbrook prep school and mine that's in his circle where I started the fall after he graduated do all those things.

      Mine made a point of laying out the kinds of disruptions that could get you booted out; we never had many thanks to the rigorous selection process, but may class's last expulsion happened after finals, the day before graduation.

      There's not much mystery about what parents want for their kids. Give them half a million or more dollars and they make it crystal clear.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:34:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hope for your potential child's sake (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, lostinamerica, dicentra, Nattiq, Chi

      that he or she has, at most, moderate creative potential. There's nothing that says potentially disruptive to a calm and stolid classroom like a very bright student who has learned to think creatively.

      By screening out potentially disruptive students, you also screen out the best of the best.  Think about it.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:04:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm oversimplifying to make a point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        'Disruptive' generally means 'discipline problems'. I don't mean to suggest that I want to reject every student who isn't an automaton, far from it.

        However, if a student is so brilliant and creative that they can't sit still long enough for a basic class in something or other, I also don't want them in my class.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:10:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then you certainly already have (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tobendaro, JanL, Chi

          the opportunity to take your kids to any school they will let you in. But please consider that the point you are trying to make is not that different from the point I am trying to make. Market Solutions will meet your needs. They won't meet the needs of the vast majority of students. Following your scenario, we will have winners and losers at a level not seen before in the educational system. And society bears that cost whether we like it or not.

          But who will make the cut? Who will make those decisions? Since you don't want to  reject every student who isn't an automaton, where will the standard be? Is that up to the school or up to you? Trying to answer these questions is what makes this profession more of an art than a science. To reduce these decisions to the kinds of data that Market Solutions demand will be very destructive.

          •  Why are you even sure that market solutions (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            talktothemike, elfling, JanL

            will meet his needs? They very well may not.

          •  They might meet his needs (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL, talktothemike, dicentra, lurkyloo

            if he has money and resources - private schools do that now.

            That includes resources like the ability to drive his child anywhere for school and the extra time to volunteer, as many charters and private schools require. It also may include the ability to move nearer to a school that meets those needs.

            The idea that the market is going to meet the needs of a gifted inner city youth with a single parent working two jobs and no spare time or cash is farfetched. If it does so, it will only be by accident in the process of meeting the needs of those with higher resources.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:28:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  As the diarist said, charter schools WILL (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      talktothemike, AoT

      be very competitive. Are you absolutely sure that your child would be allowed into a charter school? If not, stop whining.

    •  One problem with that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, talktothemike

      There's no evidence you'll get what you're expecting from a charter school.

      Remember that they're paid by the number of students they take in and the results they can turn in on their test scores.   They don't give a damn about parents and students.  If they can figure out how to get good test scores out of kids, they'll admit anyone they damn please.

      And "disadvantaged" students don't correlate to the socioeconomic status of the school district (except that minority students are disproportionately classified as ADHD and students' home and it's harder to paper over the family issues that students have).

      No matter.  It is high-performing school districts that tend to resist charter schools (my district has been in and out of court because it has refused to accept charter schools, as have the more affluent neighboring districts).

  •  How is thieving yuppie scum a hoax? It is REAL. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberaltarian

    skim Dianne Ravitch's blog for any 10 day period if you need all kinds of erudite take downs on the lies trying to hide the thieving.

    AND, I really really really don't give a shit if anyone wants to believe liars like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Cory Booker, DFER, SFC, LEV ... as long as you're getting 6 figures a year to to that believing!

    IF you're not getting 6 figures a year, how's it feel to be a chump for thieves?

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 09:49:17 PM PDT

  •  Corporate education methods .... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq, talktothemike, Chi

    ....amount to mechanized Pavlovian test prep.

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 03:42:51 AM PDT

  •  Follow the money... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq, talktothemike, eru, JanL, AoT, jbsoul

    as always. "Reform" is all about the right wing wanting to get $ away from teachers-in general, left leaning- and into the pockets of right wing leaning corporatists.

    Society is merely organized injustice. Clarence Darrow

    by Van Buren on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 04:35:04 AM PDT

  •  Hoax. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    talktothemike

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 05:25:35 AM PDT

  •  Comments (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, JanL, talktothemike, LR Frederick

    For-profit education has been tried and has generally failed.  (There are some edge cases to the contrary, but none of them look like Michelle Rhee's vision.  For example, for-profit drivers ed seems to work reasonably well.  That's not a good model for K-12 education in general.)  And virtually every industrialized country in the world, and all of our developing-country competitors, have rather well funded public education systems.

    There are good reasons why it doesn't work.  Nothing in the private sector works if it has more than about a 10-year payback.  This isn't some moral failing, but a simple fact of financial economics.  One of the major characteristics of public goods is a long or externalized payback.  (Another is high capital costs, aka most public works.)

    All of the people in this "education reform movement" are characterized by a certain amount of evangelical faith in their "reforms."  In some case, they are literally evangelicals, but even when they're not (as in the case of Michelle Rhee) they still have a very faith-based (in the abstract) view of the world.  And it happens to adversely affect people who are well-educated, unionized, professional, somewhat disproportionately female, and often politically liberal, aka teachers, which is icing on the cake.

    •  Your second paragraph (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liberaldregs

      Points out one of the biggest market failures in education. So in order to minimize the risk from the "long or externalized payback" they will have to become extremely efficient. That efficiency will be at the expense of the student.

      Thanks for your addition to this discussion.

  •  Cherry-picking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, talktothemike, rexxnyc

    These privatized schools can cherry-pick the students who excel academically, the best-behaved students, the students whose families are committed to education and will help the schools, the students who don't have mental or physical disabilities, and the students who possess superior abilities in music, athletics, etc. Meanwhile public schools have to deal with students who have never seen a home with books; or who act out constantly; or whose families don't care whether they go to school or not, much less volunteer at a school; or have a mental or physical handicap that mandates the school provide a attendant every school day at taxpayer expense; or who are not good at anything. Then the  privatized schools boast that they get better academic outcomes at lower cost! (Although in many cases this is not clear, since the  privatized schools are often exempt from the testing regime that's considered essential in public schools.)

    If all parents are given a choice between public schools and  privatized schools under these conditions, how long before public schools become dumping grounds?

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:41:18 AM PDT

  •  Which begs the question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    talktothemike

    If the market necessarily undermines human needs in the name of profit in any area it is introduced, then why should we introduce markets into any area at all?

    Do milquetoast liberals even WANT to answer that question?

    •  I have no problem answering. (0+ / 0-)

      Though I don't think I fit the milquetoast label. In fact, your question is the relevant one. My answer here won't be complete but it will hit the high points.

      When I am selling a product that I manufacture or a service I provide, I need to control as many variables as possible. Costs can be reduced through efficiency, economies of scale, outsourcing to a labor force with the minimum acceptable skill so that I can pay the minimal amount of wages. If a supplier is providing poor raw material, I find a new supplier. If a product is coming off the line flawed, I can scrap it and build a new one. Costly, but I can do it as a necessary function of providing quality assurance. These are all Market Solutions to a profit driven company. They make sense.

      With students, I cannot do any of these things. I do not control the variables of who ate breakfast, is there a parent at home to help with homework, is school valued in the home, was there a parent to wake them up in the morning and send them to school, were they beaten this morning. I certainly cannot control the variable of genetics potential. Yet market solutions assume that all students are the same and that all outcomes for students are the same. They are not a pair of size 10 shoes. They are not a Chevy Traverse. They are people with an infinite number of uncontrollable variables. We all know that. The argument should actually end right there.

      The other side of market solutions assumes winners and losers. In the market world of products that seems fair. Winners and losers will be created. Fine. In the world of students--human children--winners and losers is not an acceptable by-product. We would end up with great schools, mediocre schools and poor schools. (Really, the same thing we have now. And we are improving steadily, despite reports to the contrary.) But in the meantime, the democratically elected decision makers would be replaced by wealthy oligarchic corporate heads bent on assuring a return on investment to the shareholders. In the case of education that will lead to a few wealthy kids getting the lions share of the resources because they will be the students who are "proof" that market solutions work. And the slippery slope will get even more slick.

      Liberals and Conservatives alike both want what is best for their kids. Take a step back and see the common sense.

      •  Good answer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        talktothemike

        The question was a bit of a socialist-tinged leading question; though in your profit-driven company, you obviously need regulation/wage floors/etc so that profit is derived from added value as opposed to merely slashing costs. My little quip at the end is in reference to the fact that quite frankly, most liberals don't even want to address the underlying systems that make certain injustices possible, or have actually bought into the whole "market based solutions" tripe (the free market has always been one of our civic religions, every president except maybe FDR has had to tread very carefully around it)

        The issue with market solutions in the case of public goods like education is that profit cannot derive from greater value added (because adding value to education, or healthcare, or infrastructure produces externalized profits) so you have to slash resource costs, and push costs onto society. And only a small minority of people can bear these costs.

  •  Its all hogwash. Read teackerken (here) and read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    talktothemike

    Diane Ravitch's blog.

    She was a believer in 'market solutions' 20 years ago; but now she sees how awfully corrupting those are.

    Its just Republicans  - not satisfied with not paying their fair share of taxes who have now diversified into scams for stealing our public school buildings, and stealing teachers pensions.

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