The DeHavilland Blog

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Whither Education Week?

I just realized something.

One of the big features of the Business/Education Partnership Forum (a pro bono clearinghouse run by DeHavilland Associates) is the steady stream of news reports relating to business/education partnerships. Looking at the latest crop of articles, it struck me that we post almost nothing from Education Week: during the past two months we've posted just one article, and that one was only somewhat related to business/education partnerships.

Education Week bills itself as "American Education's Newspaper of Record," but despite that fact that there are tens of thousands of business/education partnerships out there (some have estimated as high as 100,000 or more), they write almost nothing about these partnerships. Same with workforce development, same with parental involvement. (There was actually an article a couple of weeks back about how demanding parents are, but that was (1) a rare feature, and (2) a negative angle.)

While they provide startlingly little coverage of the true customers of education (much less positive or productive coverage), there are pages and pages in each issue on government spending on education.

If you assume that organizations have to be responsive to their paying customers in order to survive and thrive, you have to acknowledge that in the world of education, government is the customer, since that's the entity actually writing the checks. And even for those individuals within the education system who do see the community as their ultimate customer (and there are many), they're forced into spending most of their time responding to the immediate paying customer (government) because that's the way the system is set up.

Education Week's coverage is the symptom; government as customer is the problem. Certainly one way to address this is to allow funding to follow children to the schools they select. But as I've said before, in the next several years the resource crisis hitting our schools will force communities to make up a larger share of the support mix, and that direct support will firmly plant the idea of community stakeholders as customers.

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