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"Turning Schools into Profit Centers"

Watch out when the business community starts calling the shots on school reform. Before you can say “accountability,” they’re yakking about how the dowdy world of education ought to be handed over to the slick MBA’s and run like a corporation, allowing self-interested individuals and unfettered competition to transform the neighborhood school into a pseudo-profit center.

Now comes the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the giant supermarket chain, which says it will hand out “cash awards” to schools in Idaho based on standardized test results.

In this essay in the Jan. 8, 2003, edition of Education Week, I pick apart the folly of these schemes that, in essence, bribe schools for better test scores. What are the educational consequences of such tactics? Who wins and who loses?