Monday, April 25, 2011

Educational Quality and Global Competition

Any organization can benefit from disciplined thinking, data-driven discussions (note I said "discussions" not "decision-making") and a process-based structure. In his blog Paul Borawski lauded the pioneering efforts of Dr. JoAnn Sternke, the Superintendent of the Pewaukee School District in Wisconsin, and her instilling of quality-thinking in her organization's activities.

In Georgia there are state requirements for education and regular evaluation of students. I am familiar with one part of Atlanta, the northeast suburbs, where there is a high Asian population including Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Indians. These groups are well-known for their strong educational systems and family support of education. A Chinese friend whose daughter attends one of the premier elementary schools in the area laments the very simplistic course program and she supplements her daughter's education with several hours of home study every night. Even her daughter complains that she is bored most of the time in class compared to her school in China; mathematics is one area that is significantly weaker.

I applaud this district for their effort to document their strategies. The majority of school districts (and even many companies) fail to do even what they did here. However, just like the majority of companies in the U.S. that will find that they will be unable to compete with the global market place of the next 20 years our educational system simply cannot compete with them today. And since the educational system of our country is an input into the business competition of the future, even more responsibility is needed to develop effective thinking here. Considering that significant educational change today would not be fully implemented until the third generation (the students of today's students) with the competitive advantage being felt in the fourth generation and considering that today's competitors are already ahead educationally and will also continue to advance....80 years from today is far too late to win the global competition. We are way past implementing what was done in business 20 years ago into schools today, we need schools today to be even more innovative than the business world since the impact of their improvement will not be felt for decades...and even then it might be too late.