Posted by: crudbasher | September 22, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I came across this brief opinion piece from Michael B Horn.  He is one of the coauthors of Disrupting Class, which I am currently reading.

In it he makes the case that passing the extra 10 billion in education funding a month ago is preserving the status quo and postponing the needed changes in the public school system.  He notes that since 2000 student enrollment has increased by 5 percent but school personnel has increased by 10 percent.

I think this reasoning is right.  Right now in our economy there is a curious contradiction happening.  Businesses are being even more productive than ever before, are making profits (many of them) and yet they have not hired any new workers.  Why is this?

Well first I think they see all the government interference in the private sector and realize that every employee they take on will become an ever increasing burden so they are keeping staff to a minimum.  Second, technology has made it possible to do many business processes without as many people.  For example, teleconferencing allows a company to conduct many more meetings per day rather with fewer people.  It’s much, much cheaper than flying around the country.

The reason this is happening is businesses have to make money.  If they run out, they go out of business.  They are adapting to the government and market forces.  This spirit of innovation is what has built this country.

Is that same spirit driving education?  Except for isolated experiments I would say it is not.

The biggest problem with education I think is there is no incentive to improve.  So what if they waste their money?  There is always more money it seems.  The education decisions about your child attending a school 5 miles away are being made in Washington DC.  Does this make sense to you?

Give the parents vouchers and they will make schools earn their money.  Make the schools hungry and uncomfortable.

  • Article from Michael B Horn on not passing additional school funding.

    tags: education disruptive funding profound

    • My friend Rick Hess wrote a piece a few weeks back
    • in it Rick takes umbrage with Secretary Duncan’s statement that Congress’s passage of $10 billion for “EduJobs” was “a real, real act of courage.”
    • I agree with Rick. I’ll be even more direct: the true act of courage would have been not to give this $10 billion at all. In the aftermath of the vote, several in Congress talked about their bold move to save education, which couldn’t be any further from the truth.
    • First, since 2000, the teaching force has in fact grown 10 percent even as student enrollment only grew 5 percent. Given that studies show that the theory that reducing class size will improve student learning is largely a myth, it isn’t clear this was a good use of funds to begin with—especially since studies show that having an effective teacher is far more important than the size of the class.
    • hese dollars represent borrowed money that we’re pumping into the system, and they afford the opportunity to escape—or prolong—making needed changes; charging education isn’t changing it.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. My problem with this is similar. What will that money be used for? More testing? More standardized curriculum? More money isn’t the solution, it could definitely help reach a solution but the problem needs to be defined before money is thrown at fixing it.

    • I’m reading Disrupting Class. It’s quite awesome and talks about things like this. The current system will not be transformed from within, it will come from without and start in areas the current system doesn’t care about, like homeschooling.

      If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it!

  2. Good post. Thanks!

    • I’m really looking forward to the chat with you next week!

  3. […] Africa. This lack of governance will allow individuals and NGOs to have an outsized influence and Necessity is the Mother of Invention. We are about to see what a 21st century society looks like without the baggage of the 20th. So […]

  4. […] yes that is a brilliant insight. I wrote a post on this called Necessity is the Mother of Invention where I talk about that as long as the education system keeps getting funding, nothing will change. […]

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