Education reformers have been arguing that schools should be run more like businesses for years. Policies like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top focused on competition between schools and teachers. State after state has ditched teacher tenure and replaced it with performance pay (actually, they got rid of the job security but most teachers have yet to be paid for performance). Now, with hair-brained policies like Florida’s Best and Brightest Scholarship we have entered a Brave New World of education reform and employee compensation, a world where only top test-takers are entitled to a bonus. Let’s apply the fundamentals of Erik Fresen’s Best and Brightest Scholarship program to the business world for a moment and see how that would work.
Setting: (shiny corporate office building in New York’s financial district)
CEO of Gordon Geiko Financial Services: “Gentlemen, I’ve brought you both into my office to discuss this year’s bonus payouts.”
Jeff and Jordon, both seasoned financial executives, exchange smiles.
CEO: “Times are tough in the financial world these days. I don’t have enough money to give you both bonuses so I’ve decided to only give a bonus to Jeff this year because his SAT scores were higher.”
Jordon: “But that’s crazy! I took my SAT 25 years ago and I was stoned at the time! I outperformed Jeff! I made $200,000 for this company last year and he only made $100,000. Why does Jeff get a bonus and I don’t? That’s crazy!”
CEO: “Sorry, Jordon. Life’s not fair. People with high SAT scores just have more potential to be a top earner one day.”
Jordon runs out of the room in a rage. Jeff runs after him. They’ve been drinking buddies for years. He doesn’t want the CEO’s decision to ruin their friendship.
Jordon punches the wall in the restroom. “I can’t believe this crap! Never in my life did I think my SAT scores would count for anything more than what college I got into. My parents couldn’t afford SAT tutoring or an expensive out of state college so I didn’t even try knowing I would end up at a state school anyway.”
Jeff: “I’m sorry man. This is crazy. Drinks on me.”
Chip, a young fresh-faced intern who started two days ago at the company, walks into the bathroom smiling.
Jordon: “What are you so happy about?”
Chip: “I just found out I’m going to make an extra $10,000 this year because my SAT scores were so high! Isn’t that awesome?”
Jordon and Jeff look at each other enraged. They immediately take Chip’s head and shove it in the toilet.
Jordon storms out of the bathroom, clears all of his belongings off of his desk, and tells the CEO he can stick his SAT scores where the sun the doesn’t shine.
Time will tell how the estrogen-laden teaching profession will react to Florida’s Best and Brightest Scholarship program, but it would certainly never work on Wall Street.