We're Talking About Human Beings - Not Widgets
When I was in business school, many of the examples that we used centered around widgets (1), like the one pictured on the right. We would speculate how changes in the production cycle would impact the marketability and profitability of the widget. We could retool the production machinery all we wanted and see what would happen. We could literally roll the widget dice on a whim. Actually, they weren’t even real widgets, they were simulated widgets. Sometimes our adjustments would improve the widget in some small way and other times we would desolate our widget empire. In either case, we made our changes, allowed them to run through the manufacturing cycle, evaluated our outcomes, and then went for coffee. Because, after all, these were just widgets. The next day we’d try something new and repeat the cycle.
This morning I read an article by Molly Bloom from StateImpact. She wrote “What You Need to Know Before the Hearing on Ohio’s Anti-Common Core Bill.” Ohio, like many other states, has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). At Keeping Pace we recently blogged about the CCSS and potential benefits in our post entitled “Common What?”. Ohio students, like many others across the U.S., will begin taking state assessments during the 2014-2015 school year that are based on the CCSS. This means that over the past few years school districts have modified their core curriculum in reading, writing, and mathematics so that they aligned to the new CCSS. Districts have spent countless resources (hours and dollars) on professional development, drafting new courses of studies, and curriculum purchases aligned to the CCSS. The State of Ohio gave no guidance on how this work should be done in the districts; they left that to local control and funding. Now, after districts have done all of this work and followed the rules the state set, HB 237 aims to impede the implementation of the CCSS in Ohio.
As I read this article I was reminded of my business school friend, the widget. Ohio adopted the CCSS and set the wheels in motion forcing districts to make changes to their curriculum (widget equivalent of the manufacturing cycle). As the CEO of a huge imaginary widget empire, I can’t envision a scenario where I would adopt a research-based improvement (CCSS) to my widget production, spent countless resources making changes to the production cycle (teachers, administrators, curriculum) that produced my widgets, and then at the last minute scrap the entire project just before the product was ready to roll. My board of directors would have replaced me in an instant and my dreams of becoming the widget queen would have ended abruptly. In my mind, what makes HB 237 worse is that instead of dealing with imaginary widgets, legislators are rolling the dice with real human beings (2) and not imaginary widgets. At least in business school, we evaluated our outcomes before going out for coffee. In this case a group of legislators have decided to just go out for coffee. The CCSS have been adopted, the changes have been made, let’s take the time to see where the benefits are and adjust where needed, not scrap the entire project. After all, these are human beings - not widgets.
Stacy Hawthorne recently joined the Evergreen Education Group after most recently having been a Creativity & Innovation Strategist, Technology Integration Coordinator, and teacher in Ohio. She is working on our projects implementing blended learning in schools, and occasionally contributing to the KP blog.
(1) I included the picture of the widget so that younger readers wouldn’t think I was talking about web widgets, which didn’t exist when I was in business school. Enough said!
(2) I included a picture of human beings so that any legislators reading this post could see how different they are from widgets. We owe our children the best, not the constant rolling of the dice.