To new visitors:
Welcome, and thank you for giving edbizbuzz the opportunity to reach readers of Education Week and edweek.org, its online presence.
Contrary to what you might infer from the name, this blog is neither an apologist for k-12’s education industry, nor its watchdog.
Edbizbuzz is premised on a point of view about the industry - specifically, an explanation of public education’s evolution since 1990 as the migration from a vertically-integrated state-run enterprise shaped primarily by politics, to a competitive market in teaching and learning programs driven increasingly (but in no way absolutely) by results. I believe we are in a transition between two worlds. The “end state” is still up for grabs, but we are never going back to the 1980’s.
Observers typically explain k-12 as a political battleground, an ongoing scientific experiment, a philosophical arena, a budget, a classroom, and a journey to children’s self-realization as adults. All these are no more or less legitimate than the idea of k-12 as a marketplace.
My point of view is not so much that we should have private sector sales supporting k-12’s teaching and learning function/activities (although I do believe that), but that we have had them for decades in the form of textbooks and local consultants. The emphasis placed by state governments on school accountability since the 1990s and the federal government since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001 opened this market to a new kind of enterprise – the school improvement provider. Their disruptive entry into a market so stable it was taken for granted has forced stakeholders in public education to focus on the role of private enterprise in public and the kind of involvement the nation needs, wants and should have.
I believe that it is in every stakeholder groups’ interest to see that the k-12 market works for them as well as possible. So, yes, I am “for” business, but I am also “for” districts, unions, charter schools, etc. in the sense that they are all necessary actors in a market. From time to time, I’ll point readers to some of my past writing on each from my years at RAND, New American Schools, its Education Entrepreneurs Fund, my contributions to the Center on Reinventing Public Education, edbizbuzz before it joined edweek.org, my podcast, and School Improvement Industry Week’s editorial.
In the end, markets are only the means to an end - a system of public education that provides kids with the set of skills, experiences and values society owes anyone we expect to contribute to the next generation. Where individuals, organizations and groups are serving that interest, they will get kudos. Where they aren’t, they will be critiqued.
This is a forum as well as a soapbox, so please take advantage of the opportunity to comment – especially when you disagree.
Again, thank you
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.