For years, conservatives and others have been pushing for competition as a solution to the “failure” of our public schools (former Michigan Governor John Engler was a leader in this, and now so is George W. Bush). They argue that big business should be the model for the structure of our schools, engendering in schools the following traits: for profit status that will motivate employees and administrators; high stakes, with the potential for going out of business as a motivator; incentives packages (along with all the other trendy ideas from business consultants) for motivating employees; efficient use of funds that all successful businesses must have; and the infallible oversight of the stockholder keeping schools in line.
These politicians and education critics argue that public schools operate with impunity, without consequences for their failures. They ask, “what mechanism is in place to make teachers want to teach well, to motivate them to strive hard to offer premium education to our kids? If they don’t fear losing their jobs and going bankrupt, won’t they produce a bad product?” So we hear that schools are failing, that teachers are lazy and incompetent, that bad teachers cannot be fired, that teachers’ unions are bilking the public, and a litany of other complaints about the system.
As a six-year public school teacher, I agree. We need to operate like big business.
Let’s look at the automotive industry for some great examples of what schools could do. Clearly, the first thing we need to do is to lay off thousands of employees and cut our overhead. In fact, let’s lay off all of the teachers and teach them a lesson. Now, as Ford, GM and Daimler Chrysler have done, we will need to look outside of our country for cheap labor to fill the void created by the layoffs. I suggest that we send our children to Mexico to be educated. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who would jump at the chance to “educate” some Americans.
Educating our children in Mexico will solve a lot of problems and do away with a lot of excessive waste. We could avoid the problems linked with long-term employees (organized unions, health insurance and benefits, job security) by just showing up with pick up trucks at areas around Mexico City where each day we will select a new group of Mexicans to teach our children. Parents will save a bundle (outside of the initial travel fees) on the costs of raising a kid since food and clothes are cheaper in Mexico—just don’t drink the water, kids. Not only that, but these kids will be learning another language. Say some of them become autoworkers when they get older. If they get laid off by Ford, then they can always go to Mexico and get their jobs back (for less pay, of course) without fear of culture clash and language problems. Just think about how much our kids will enjoy the abundance of firecrackers, Spanish fly and pinatas. And we won’t have to worry so much about school violence anymore, as there are not nearly as many guns in Mexico as there are in the US.