Education is Not Business

In recent decades, educators have adopted the language and models of business processes (some of us prefer to say this way of understanding our work was foisted on the profession). Business is deconstructed into inputs, business processes and outputs. Success is measured in quality and quality of outputs (in business outputs can be reduced in most cases to profits). If outputs are deemed unacceptable, then steps are taken to improve the inputs or improve the business processes that convert inputs to outputs. In business, of course, there is always the option to leave the business (by choice or bankruptcy).

Several differences exist between business and education that limit the correlations, but that does not dissuade advocates for this approach. Whereas businesses have clearly measurable outcomes, education (even in a landscape of clear standards) is marked by different outcomes for different populations and individuals. (What is considered appropriate levels of mathematics learning for one who is going to enter the work force as a laborer is far different from one who plans to study physics in college.) Also, educators have little control over the inputs into the system, which are largely defined by the socioeconomic conditions of the community in which the school is located. Further, because schools are social institutions dealing with humans, the methods that cause learning are not well known and cannot be applied with reliability to all learners. Finally, in the case of public school, leaving is not an option.