Monday, October 03, 2011

If the NFL were run like our public schools

Fran Tarkenton has a great take on education. He imagines if the NFL were run like our nation's public schools are run.
magine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn't get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.

Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: "They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans." The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn't help.
He is so right that our system of public education that has evolved defies all logic if we were starting from scratch to design the best public schools we could. That is why the charter school system is so crucial to the process of school reform. Each school starts out by deciding what its mission is and how best to achieve that mission. Many of the new charters focused on educating underprivileged children are focused on analyzing outcomes to find the best ways to help student succeed. Think of it as the Moneyball approach to education. Such schools as the KIPP Academies and other schools with a similar approach have been embarrassing public schools in the same neighborhoods with their success rates.

Tarkenton is exactly right that our system isn't working and to describe the system is all we need to expose how stupid the whole thing is.