Assembly-line education

Lots has been said about corporate school reform. A quick Google search reveals a myriad of opinions, and I imagine just those three words – corporate school reform – alone could spark a debate with no further prodding. But Chris Kershner recently added some fuel to the fire.

Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, was recently quoted in a Washington Post article likening students to an “educational product” created for the good of the business community. Here’s what he said:

“The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product. They are going through the education system so that they can be an attractive product for business to consume and hire as a workforce in the future.”

Those are the words Kershner chose to use to defend Ohio’s Common Core curriculum to the United States House of Representatives. The few reader comments on the article suggest that at least some people were just as taken aback by the comment as I was. Is he really discussing our children’s education in the same terms as some new state-of-the-art product? Is the primary goal of our education system to create “attractive products” for American businesses? Are teachers just assembly-line workers, putting together the right parts to create a marketable whole? Is this the type of mindset we want responsible for creating guidelines and standards for our teachers and our schools? What can be done to change it? And, finally, as John Thompson recently discussed in a blog entry on the Huffington Post: “Is it time to escort Bill Gates out of our schools?”

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