Why does Montgomery County Public Schools believe it is preparing kids for the world of work?
More and more, I have noticed educators in public school districts, including a lot of MCPS people, making some pretty weird claims about the world of work.
Over the course of my own professional career, I’m glad I got to work in both worlds—public education—I worked for MCPS nearly 20 years—and the business—since 1998, I have worked for two different D.C.-area research companies. Frankly, I’m now at a place where I rarely trust what those who have not worked in the private for-profit world have to say about the day-to-day in the private for-profit workplace. I just don’t think they have credibility.
So, here is an interesting paragraph from Washington Post writer Michael Chandler—it appeared in a recent blog about MCPS Superintendent Joshua P. Starr and his most recent book club pick "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel Pink. Chandler writes: "Extrinsic motivators, such as financial incentives, helped speed up assembly lines during the industrial age. But they don’t work as well to encourage the creative thinking or sound judgment needed in the more complex jobs that characterize today’s economy."
The above is pretty easy to say or believe if you don't actually work in the private for-profit world. But if you work in a for-profit situation you know that money always matters, including financial incentives. Could any of us imagine, for example, selling this “B.S.” about how financial incentives don’t matter to Facebook workers? On the eve of Facebook going public, their workers are getting ready to “get paid,” and probably already have their luxury car brochures printed out. Sure some of these workers do what they do not just for the money. But come on people, “getting paid” is pretty rewarding!
My current Montgomery County company is no Facebook, but workers at my company know that they can earn additional bonus money if they work harder, and many do work harder because they are motivated by the extra cash.
I would say that in past two years I have been involved directly in hiring at least five new college graduates. Now, I have to admit that during these interviews where interviewees went to high school never came up. What comes up in interviews is what occurred in college—college courses that are relevant to my company’s mission, research projects, research jobs or internships, and writing samples (college graduates who can string good sentences together are worth their weight in gold).
Which brings me back to my original question: Why does MCPS believe it is preparing its graduates for the world of work? And even if it does believe this—and believes it like it was some kind commandment from God—how could it ever prove that what it did during the high school years makes a difference?