VEEP’s Viewpoint – 8/10/2010

This week’s Veep’s Viewpoint is about the government.

It often feels like the government either rushes into things without due consideration or doesn’t do anything. Of course, if they move too fast, we criticize lack of thought. If they move to slow, we criticize lack of action. The worst, though, is when the movement is slow and there is still not a lot of thought behind the action.

A New York Times article from yesterday reported on the number of education-related companies that are setting their sights on government money for school improvement. These are corporations and nonprofits, some of whom have done disastrous things to schools in the past (as the article notes), looking to turnaround failing schools for cash. As the article states, “Many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight.”

Why is this okay? There is this ongoing cycle, illustrated below:

We need to be better about this. Put someone in charge of making sure we are giving money to the right people before giving away the money. The result will be savings from waste and it’ll end the really embarrassing “United States Government Does Something Wrong Again” headlines. The government does a lot right, but this is one area where they could do a lot better. I mean, that article talks about school districts hiring life coaches. Weren’t life coaches mocked pretty seriously by Gilmore Girls in like 2004? (It was.) It doesn’t help that the website of this life coaching organization says they work on “facilitating new conversations through story listening, expressing empathy, appreciative inquiry and design thinking” (quote from NYT). Seriously? Expressing empathy? Schools can’t get on top of doing that on their own?

There are two problems here: 1) this somehow wasn’t a foreseeable problem and 2)  schools are being prayed upon. As disappointed as I am in the government for not making sure this wasn’t happening in the first place, I am angry at the companies who are taking advantage of the poor state of public education in the United States to bilk educators who are desperately looking for a way to help kids learn and prove that improvement to the government*. It is disturbing that people think this is somehow an acceptable practice.

*Post hoc school oversight using test scores? Yes. Helpful? Nope. Why? See chart above.


About Sylvia Fredericks

Second-Year MPA student at the La Follette School for Public Affairs (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
This entry was posted in education, Ethics, Management, National, News, Policy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to VEEP’s Viewpoint – 8/10/2010

  1. Raj says:

    yeah, It is very important that money is being given to the right people who make optimum use of it.

    Whats the fun of first giving it without much oversight and as you mentioned, it becomes a vicious cycle.

    the money is our hard earned money which we give as tax, and it should be used properly…..

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