A few people have emailed The Times story about the United Auto Workers – GM collaboration on the Sonic car. While it remains to be seen if the car is a commercial success in a country that loves big cars, the collaboration is certainly noteworthy. But what readers want to know is why can’t this happen in education? Actually, I think it can and there are some examples – Pittsburgh being one recent one. But, the answer to why it’s not more widespread may also be found in a comment by the U.A.W. president:
“We are committed to the success of the company,” [U.A.W President] Mr. King said recently. “We had to talk about a business model that makes sense.”
I don’t want to imply that teachers’ union leaders are not committed to the success of public education. But, what “success” looks like is different in the public sector and private sector. Or more specifically – the incentives around success are different because private firms can go out of business while public sector ones generally do not (especially public education, which is an essential service). So while I wasn’t a fan of what went down in Wisconsin, you don’t have to be to see that there are real differences between public sector and private sector unions and their various incentives and that we had better pay attention to them in our industry and think about how to navigate the various challenges public education faces with that in mind.