Press "Enter" to skip to content

Daugaard Education Plan Fails to Fulfill Business-Needs Hierarchy

Last updated on 2014.07.14

While circulating petitions to refer HB 1234, the Governor's education reform plan, to a public vote, I've heard more than one neighbor speak of the need to make public education operate more like a business.

Rep. Fred Romkema, one of the noble legislators who changed his mind to vote against HB 1234, said he resisted Governor Daugaard's arm-twisting specifically because he doesn't see the applicability of the business model to education:

"The part that's troubling to me is how you apply a business model to an educational model," Romkema said. "In the past 35 years, I have not been able to determine how to do that" [David Montgomery, "Education Reform Bill Passes House, Heads to Daugaard," Rapid City Journal, 2012.02.29].

But let's throw Rep. Romkema's caution to the wind and think like businesspeople for a moment, shall we? My fellow public educator The Displaced Plainsman reads Seth Godin's hierarchy of business needs:

  1. Avoiding risk
  2. Avoiding hassle
  3. Gaining praise
  4. Gaining power
  5. Having fun
  6. Making a profit

When you pitch a plan to a business, says Godin, you first have to assure them that your plan is not increasing their risk or hassle. Until you put those concerns to rest, they won't listen to your promises of big money.

The Displaced Plainsman ties Godin's hierarchy of needs to Team Daugaard's really bad sales pitch on HB 1234:

On the ed reform level, South Dakota's HB 1234 and nearly every other effort I've read about seem premised on the belief that giving teachers a small chance to earn a little extra money justifies condemning them, increasing their risks and hassles, and reducing their autonomy, thereby making the job less fun. The reformers then feign shock that teachers resist merit pay [LK, "Teachers Need to Understand Godin's Hierarchy," The Displaced Plainsman, 2012.06.08].

As LK points out, HB 1234's plan to make teachers scramble for a few competitive handouts fails to satisfy the first five steps of the hierarchy and only holds out to teachers a vague possibility of a profit. We can put our business fedoras on and read the Governor's plan as a really bad sales pitch.

If Education Secretary Melody Schopp would read the blogs, she might understand why teachers are insulted by her characterization of HB 1234 as a gift to teachers. Secretary Schopp, it's not the gift but the thought that counts. And the thought behind merit pay based on more standardized test scores is wrong, whether we look at it as teachers or as Godin-esque businesspeople.


  1. David Newquist 2012.06.08

    Their are many definitions of the business model and many operating goals listed for business to achieve, but the underlying and necessarily driving force is to make money. The primary purpose of education is to make functioning citizens. The two primary goals are in direct conflict. Functioning citizens are a huge impediment to businesses. In recent decades, the age of the MBA, the business model has shifted from creating products and services that outperform the competition to basing profits on internal cost controls. For employees, that means reducing employee costs and making them more productive. The result was what happened with the American automotive industry, while the Japanese and Koreans were making reliable and durable cars, American companies were caught up in corporate games of mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, downsizing, automating, and finding ways to sever its labor contracts. Nothing frustrates the corporatocracy as much as workers having an effective voice in their compensation, their working conditions, and their treatment in the workplace.

    HB 1234 must be seen in line with what has happened to Wisconsin public workers and the denial of any right to have a voice in their terms of employment. The au courant business model requires the destruction of unions. Rather than deal with the nuisance of negotiating those terms in a framework of equality at the bargaining table, Wisconsin has voted to exercise the right to impose them and negate all contractual obligations. There are legitimate concerns about employee costs, but they could have been addressed at the bargaining tables. Those concerns, however, are merely a smoke screen to obscure the fundamental objective of reducing the workforce to inferior subservience by denying it any freedom, equality, and justice in the workplace. People who live in shackles in their livelihood can be controlled and oppressed as necessary in other aspects of their lives. Once we have eliminated labor unions, we can get to the root of the problem of an enfranchised people by addressing the Emancipation Proclamation and those Constitutional Amendments it spawned.

    South Dakota does not have to deny collective bargaining rights for public employees because its labor laws give the public employers the right to impose contracts. HB1234 provides denials of rights and privileges not covered by current law by eliminating continuing contracts and those matters of due process that it entails. Its provisions include methods for eliminating individual initiative and innovation by setting up an evaluation system that rewards those who learn to perform within a rigid set of restrictions on what is taught and how it is taught. Functioning citizens are an anathema to any business model, so their learning must be limited to being able to perform only carefully defined tasks.

    Now that corporations have been granted full personhood, th;ere is a conflict to confront. We expect private citizens to maintain a loyalty to the nation, a dutiful performance of civic duties, and to contribute to their communities. The imperative of the free market excuses businesses from any such encumbrances. If a private citizen behaved in the way of our global corporations, they would be accused of subversion, being traitors, and be labeled as criminal and anti-social. But those conflicts will never bother a citizenry too helpless, too oppressed, and too ignorant to recognize them or care.

  2. D.E. Bishop 2012.06.08

    I wish your comment was not so right on, professor. In fact, it is accurately worrying.

  3. grudznick 2012.06.08

    I bet the Kiwanis are behind bill, the bill to give good teachers more money.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    Good at what, Grudz? Playing political games? Getting kids to fill in bubbles? Adopting safe lesson plans and not risking any innovations?

  5. grudznick 2012.06.08

    Good at teaching, Mr. H. In every town, everybody knows which teachers are the best ones and which ones are not as good. You do too, even in your teacher union meetings, the ones that know they do not rise to the top look at your shoes when they talk, and the ones who know they deserve to be let go even with their permanent job-for-life-status, they look at their own shoes.

  6. Carter 2012.06.08

    Grudz, if this bill was saying that school boards should be able to determine on their own who is and isn't a good teacher, we'd all be having an entirely different argument.

    HB 1234 is about teachers teaching to the test. Being able to teach kids what bubbles to fill in on a sheet of paper isn't the mark of a good teacher. In fact, if all you care about is your students marking the right bubble on a sheet of paper, you're a pretty bad teacher.

    And what's this about staring at shoes? That's either a terribly tedious metaphor, or just a blatantly incorrect observation.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    And dagnabit, Grudz, how many times do I have to tell you that no K-12 teacher has a job for life? You are fantasizing about an enemy system that does not exist in South Dakota. South Dakota Codified Law 13-43-6.1 says that a school district may fire any teacher, tenured or not, at any time for just cause. The same statute says a school district may choose not to renew the contract of any poorly performing tenured teacher. As for me, ever the rookie, they can deny me a contract at the end of next without giving me any reason at all. Schools have all the power they need to weed out all those crappy teachers you imagine right now. What part of black-and-white statute don't you undertstand?

  8. grudznick 2012.06.08

    I thought this was about "local control", letting each school decide how to pick the best teachers. I think the teachers are just scared of the administrators, who should not get raises and are jealous of the teachers who people want to give bonuses to.

  9. grudznick 2012.06.08

    Why do the teachers need tenure then, Mr. H? Why does your union insist on it? I think it's to protect the slackards, and I can't abide slackards.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    And Carter is so absolutely right. HB 1234 doesn't let each local district make its own decision as to what constitutes good teaching. HB 1234 mandates a statewide standardized teacher evaluation rubric, same for everyone, that looks not at that experiential knowledge you and I have about who our best teachers are, but at the scores on bubble tests that we buy from out-of-state corporations who've never met our teachers. Your conception of HB 1234 and the reality of HB 1234's provisions and impacts are almost completely disjoint bubbles on a Venn diagram.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.08

    Grudz, you also can't identify any real slackards. We have tenure to protect good teachers from abuses of power by bad admins and bad school boards, which must exist in equal proportion to whatever number of bad teachers you keep positing with no evidence.

  12. grudznick 2012.06.08

    How do we protect good garbage men from abuses of power by bad admins and bad city councils?

  13. D.E. Bishop 2012.06.08

    Grudz, you jump from topic to topic faster than a jackrabbit. Cory answers one, and you don't respond to what he said, you jump to something else. C'mon, address the topic! I read even when I don't comment, and like to be enlightened. So - enlighten up!

  14. grudznick 2012.06.08

    You sound insaner that some of the Howites, Mr. Bishop.

  15. Bob Newland 2012.06.08

    Grudznick can't abide slackers, which he spells "slackards." I can't abide Grudznick, who is a chickenshit jerk.

  16. larry kurtz 2012.06.08

    that's because she's a woman, grudz.

  17. grudznick 2012.06.08

    Mr. Newland, please calm down. You dope smoking slackard. :-)

  18. Steve O'Brien 2012.06.08

    OK, I cannot get past number six, SIX, is making a profit. That is THE reason for the existence of any business. To pretend corporations have any motivations that rival, much less supersede, that imperative is to lose view of the single-minded focus of business.

    It is why schools are not and SHOULD not ever be under a business model - not should government. Both those institutions are more important than to be trivialized in that fashion.

  19. John 2012.06.09

    Godin's propaganda of business hierarchy is wrong. 100% wrong.
    The only lawful existence allowed for the corporation is to enhance shareholder value - profits. So readeth the statutes. All of them.

    Rep. Romkema is correct. Where is "profitablity" in any public education model?

    Grudz: the only role of tenure is establishing due process for teachers' removal - so it's not arbitrary or capacious.

    Good oped in the RCJ today noting the fundamental US and SD secondary education problem is administration and its management. If "local control" is the savior then just what are the school boards doing?! Of course, they are part of the problem by setting or allowing low standards and achievement among their superintendents, having a mere 180-day school year, and allowing scholarly distractions of extra-curricular activities.

Comments are closed.