To Compete or Collaborate

Schools seem caught up in competition these days. When I was a student the competition was left for the sports fields and academic clubs like Chess Club, Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad. These competitions promoted school spirit, pride and showed off student talents to the community. Competition is natural in between individuals, helping one strive to grow. This allows us to see if we are measuring up with others. Students feel pride with victory and return to practice hard in the face of defeat.

Now days schools are competing in more places. Since school of choice laws and for profit charters have popped up on every corner schools are competing for students, funding, rankings and staff. This competition is different than before, not friendly or for local pride but for survival. Similar to two rival businesses competing for consumers dollars. Is this new type of competition good for education?

District rush to be the first with a technology tool to market to students, many have forgotten to train staff and research best proposals. Money is spent on radio, billboard and television adds to lure students into choosing their school. Crafty vision statements and names have been used to make one school seem better than another. Wealthy district lure poorer districts top staff away by marginal increases in pay but hope for a future. It seems like we are running education like a highly competitive business.

Shouldn’t districts be collaborating? The majority of school funding comes from state school aid. All schools have the same goal to educate all students that walk through the doors. Should districts valuable financial resources be spent in competition as teachers re-create lessons that are being taught through-out the state? Wouldn’t we all be better served if lesson plans were shared. Instead of districts spend time creating their own PD each district could share their expertise with each other. Students would stay put, building strong schools in every community instead of leaving some districts abandoned.

Let’s make all schools succeed through district collaboration, leaving the competitions to the sports fields.

5 thoughts on “To Compete or Collaborate

  1. This is a excellent point. Districts (including teachers, students, and administration) need to be held accountable for student learning, but competing for students is detracting from this. Technology probably is rolled out in part to attract students, but unless staff is trained in how to teach effectively with the new technology it is an annoyance in the classroom not a useful support. Collaboration would also benefit the transient student population as the change residences and districts. Opportunities like the Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship should be more prevalent so that teachers can collaborate and build that foundation together.

  2. I agree. The only competition that should happen is possibly from state to state and maybe country to country. At least this would breed cooperation at a local level!

  3. Thanks for sharing Todd! Yes, as educators, we need to be sharing more, collaborating more, and working together to help all our students. When schools compete, students lose. We can all strive to be our best without trying to “out do” other schools.

  4. Have often thought the same way and you articulated this well. Some students will always get left behind when we pit schools against one another. In fact, competition the way it is being done now with K-12 schools breeds inequality and fosters more problems than anything else. EVERY child deserves a great education and high quality teachers and it makes no sense to start identifying and labeling schools so they can be left to fend for themselves or close.

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