Netflix’s Reed Hastings has a big idea: Kill elected school boards


Netflix Reed Hastings wants to put an end to school boards and replace public schools with charters:

Hastings suggests that the “stable governance” of charter schools leads to stable schools, but, alas, big changes occur in charter schools. Let’s look at Rocketship, on whose unofficial board of advisers Hastings sits. Rocketship became known — and won $2 million from the Obama administration to help it grow — with a “blended learning” model that is designed to incorporate traditional classroom settings with a computer “Learning Lab” for students. The idea behind the lab was that students could learn basic lessons in math and reading while teachers could work with students on more complicated material. Part of the attraction, too, was that the computers would cost less than hiring more teachers. But get this: Last year Rocketship realized it had to revamp its fabulous “Learning Lab” because it wasn’t working very well. The charter network’s Web site says it is still piloting ”flexible learning spaces at some of our schools — spaces that will allow our teachers be even more effective and students to learn even more.”

What he’s arguing for is less governance, not better schools. Here’s the real story, public schools are more than fine outside of school districts in impoverished, urban areas. In fact they are pretty damn good:

About education. And unlike other folks who parachute into the ed debates with the usual silver bullets (more charter schools! higher standards! fewer teachers unions!), he [movie maker M. Night Shyamalan] actually diagnoses the problem correctly:

You know how everyone says America is behind in education, compared to all the countries? Technically, right now, we’re a little bit behind Poland and a little bit ahead of Liechtenstein, right? So that’s where we land in the list, right? So that’s actually not the truth. The truth is actually bizarrely black and white, literally, which is, if you pulled out the inner-city schools — just pull out the inner-city, low-income schools, just pull that group out of the United States, put them to the side — and just took every other public school in the United States, we lead the world in public-school education by a lot.

And what’s interesting is, we always think about Finland, right? Well, Finland, obviously, is mainly white kids, right? They teach their white kids really well. But guess what, we teach our white kids even better. We beat everyone. Our white kids are getting taught the best public-school education on the planet. Those are the facts.

It’s like we own 10 buildings, and 3 are on fire. So the Hastings solution is to turn the fire hose on all ten houses. The idea of public school systems is not broken. The countries we are “losing” too implement public schools. It has been perpetually improving and adapting in middle class and wealthy school districts across the country for decades. It’s the ability to deliver quality education in impoverished areas that is the issue. Wanting to get 90% of kids in the nation into charters is a corporate growth strategy, not an academic development strategy.