Saturday, July 25, 2015

Runnin' it like a business

I'm so old I can remember back when Ray Nagin went to jail and everyone (well Clancy Dubos.. who counts as a lot of people) decided we weren't going to fall for the "run government like a business" canard ever again.
Lesson No. 1 — Don’t try to run government like a business. This is a lesson for us all. Businesses are dictatorships; our government is a democracy. The two are not designed to work the same way. The next time you hear some puffed-up businessman saying we should run government like a business, remind him that Greg Meffert and Mark St. Pierre were successful businessmen — and ask him if he likes how they ran things. If nothing else, we now know the danger — and the folly — of running government like a business.
Did we really ever learn "Lesson No. 1" though?  Not really. We just shifted the branding ever so slightly. Now "running government like a business" is called "disruption" or "public-private partnering" or, sometimes, "volunteer entrepreneurism."   But whatever you call it, the idea that, in order to provide a public service, we must first ensure that someone can make some money doing it, is still very much with us.
Another RSD school, Andrew H. Wilson Charter School, was taken over by a new, RSD-selected, operator after parents fought to keep the F-rated school from closing.

Parent Lamont Douglas, whose 6-year-old attends Wilson, said he felt like charter operators were angling for the school’s building more than the students in it.

“They’re treating our school system like a business and our children like commodities,” he said.

The use of “CEO” bears out that comparison, many said. The title is commonplace in New Orleans charter schools. Some charter network CEOs oversee multiple schools and site-level principals, and others are single-school sites with both a CEO and principal.

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