NOTES: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.
This commentary was originally published in Crain’s Cleveland Business.
As a business owner in Cleveland as well as other cities, I spend a lot of time thinking about return on investment (ROI).
It's a financial term that when used in public education can make some people feel uncomfortable. Students and teachers are not units or widgets, and running schools is not a business — or so the thinking goes. Many would argue that the educational process of expanding a child's mind and equipping them for a lifelong love of learning simply can't be reduced to numbers.
I agree that teaching is an art form, that children are unique, and that K-12 public education — as a public good — cannot and should not be reduced to balance sheets alone. Yet we see the results of a poor education very much in terms of numbers.
These are cold, hard facts that we must contend with and eventually pay for. Low percentages of students who can't read or do math at grade level lead...