The Blackboard and the Bottom Line: Why Schools Can't Be Businesses / Edition 1

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Overview

"Ford Motor Company would not have survived the competition had it not been for an emphasis on results. We must view education the same way," the U.S. Secretary of Education declared in 2003. But is he right? In this provocative new book, Larry Cuban takes aim at the alluring cliché that schools should be more businesslike, and shows that in its long history in business-minded America, no one has shown that a business model can be successfully applied to education.

In this straight-talking book, one of the most distinguished scholars in education charts the Gilded Age beginnings of the influential view that American schools should be organized to meet the needs of American businesses, and run according to principles of cost-efficiency, bottom-line thinking, and customer satisfaction.

Not only are schools by their nature not businesslike, Cuban argues, but the attempt to run them along business lines leads to dangerous over-standardization--of tests, and of goals for our children. Why should we think that there is such a thing as one best school? Is "college for all" achievable--or even desirable? Even if it were possible, do we really want schools to operate as bootcamps for a workforce? Cuban suggests that the best business-inspired improvement for American education would be more consistent and sustained on-the-job worker training, tailored for the job to be done, and business leaders' encouragement--and adoption--of an ethic of civic engagement and public service.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Educational Supplement - Michael Duffy
Sharply relevant to our current preoccupations. [The Blackboard and the Bottom Line] is scholarly, well-documented, and shot through with a passion for community-based education. Very readable, and recommended.
Teacher Magazine - David Ruenzel
It's hardly a surprise that corporate leaders have spent more than a century trying to remake schools in their own companies' images so that they become more competitive, efficient, and productive. Of course, business has not always lived up to its own standards--think Detroit in the 1970s and Enron in the '90s. But as education historian Larry Cuban reveals in his captivating new book, this hasn't stopped businesspeople from insisting that they know best...Cuban is a former high school teacher and district superintendent who's now a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, and he, like others of us in the profession, knows that the differences between businesses and schools are immense and often intractable...Cuban, in fact, does not want businesses to stay out of education but rather to show a great deal more humility in their involvement. They should stop asking how schools can be more like them and instead consider--especially in this era of rampant corporate corruption--the ways in which it's OK for schools to be different.
Times Educational Supplement

Sharply relevant to our current preoccupations. [The Blackboard and the Bottom Line] is scholarly, well-documented, and shot through with a passion for community-based education. Very readable, and recommended.
Michael Duffy

Teacher Magazine

It's hardly a surprise that corporate leaders have spent more than a century trying to remake schools in their own companies' images so that they become more competitive, efficient, and productive. Of course, business has not always lived up to its own standards--think Detroit in the 1970s and Enron in the '90s. But as education historian Larry Cuban reveals in his captivating new book, this hasn't stopped businesspeople from insisting that they know best...Cuban is a former high school teacher and district superintendent who's now a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, and he, like others of us in the profession, knows that the differences between businesses and schools are immense and often intractable...Cuban, in fact, does not want businesses to stay out of education but rather to show a great deal more humility in their involvement. They should stop asking how schools can be more like them and instead consider--especially in this era of rampant corporate corruption--the ways in which it's OK for schools to be different.
David Ruenzel

Library Journal
Anyone who has followed the rhetoric of school reform over the past two decades is familiar with the argument that student achievement could be increased if schools were simply run more like businesses. While reviewing reform movements of the last century, Cuban (education, emeritus, Stanford Univ.) argues that this simple statement ignores the influence that business leaders and the "business paradigm" have had on curriculum design, educational administration, and local, state, and federal policies and that the business model, however appealing, is not appropriate for school reform. While Cuban's writing is engaging as always, this study seems to draw extensively on his earlier works on the history of teaching (How Teachers Taught), school reform (Tinkering Toward Utopia), and the use of technology in the classroom (Teachers and Machines). Skimming over issues covered in greater depth in those works, as well as in books like Herbert M. Kliebard's Schooled To Work: Vocationalism and the American Curriculum, Cuban provides more of a lecture than a newly envisioned analysis of this crucial question. Still, this is a practical and inclusive collection of important arguments that will appeal to readers regardless of their familiarity with Cuban's earlier works. Recommended for all collections.-Scott Walter, Univ. of Kansas Lib., Lawrence Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674025387
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Cuban is Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University and past president of the American Educational Research Association.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : business and school reform 1
1 The logic of the reforms 15
2 How the reforms have changed schools 39
3 Why schools have adopted the reforms 69
4 Limits to business influence 89
5 Are public schools like businesses? 118
6 Has business influence improved schools? 158
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