Opinion
Education Opinion

The Letter From: March 29, 2004 Asks if There is a School Improvement Industry

July 02, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What remains relevant from this letter in the March 29, 2004 issue of School Improvement Industry Week (SIIW)?

All industries consist of three parts: supply, demand and government. Meeting objective criteria is necessary to prove the existence of an industry, but not sufficient. Industries must also have a subjective sense of self-awareness that goes beyond the separate parts. The standards movement - a legislative trend starting in the 1990s, culminating in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, established a legal venue for private sector involvement to improve teaching and learning in public schools.

NCLB’s focus on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) hastens the development of markets in student and teacher testing, information and reporting systems. Where public schools fall short of student performance requirements, the law fosters markets in school wide professional development and new curricula. Where teachers fall short of qualification requirements, the law expands a market in individual professional development.

To instill a discipline of continuous improvement, the law moves the market toward the use of programs derived from Scientifically Based Research (SBR).

To introduce the pressure of competition to foster public school improvement, NCLB created a market in Supplementary Educational Services (SES) and boosted the charter and contract school markets. And, if this is not enough, the Administration would (unwisely) add vouchers to the mix.

In each of these markets, we have hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of buyers on the demand side. We have tens, even hundreds of providers on the supply side. We have billions of dollars of transactions. And behind the law, we have administrators in the state and federal departments of education ruling on how private sector providers engage with public education and overseeing the use of funds to purchase private sector services.

In many of these markets, the buying and selling predates NCLB by as much as a decade. Federal law reduces the political risk of participation, accelerates growth and, through federal regulation of NCLB funds, begins to foster a national marketplace.

Objectively, we have a school improvement industry. Yet the supply, demand, and government sectors lack an overarching sense of coherence, interdependence, partnership, or unity.

Providers on the supply side talk about “selling into” public education, implying they are separate from it. Lockheed-Martin’s leaders do not talk about “selling into national defense” - it considers the firm integral to our national security.

Schools and districts on the demand side know they need outside assistance. Still, they hold school improvement service providers at arms length as “vendors,” no different than companies that stock the soft drink and snack machines.

Congress intended NCLB to enlist the private sector to improve public schools, but officials administering the law lack a strategy to foster supply. Secretary Rumsfeld is responsible for monitoring and promoting the health of our defense industrial base. Secretary Paige does not even have the data required to describe the nation’s “education industrial base.”

So we have lots of transactions, but little self-awareness that we are an industry. The supply side’s growth depends on fostering that realization. Getting the three sectors to the table to discuss common interests and shared problems should be the constant preoccupation of school improvement industry leaders.

Marc Dean Millot is the editor of School Improvement Industry Week and K-12 Leads and Youth Service Markets Report. His firm provides independent information and advisory services to business, government and research organizations in public education.

The opinions expressed in edbizbuzz are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP