What a great round of passionate feedback by the Influential Voices to the April topic on quality in education! I think we can all agree that improving education is a global priority—and that we’ve got a ways to go. There were some common themes that ran through the responses, namely:
• Stronger leadership and commitment are needed: On a global scale, Cesar Diaz Guevara writes that Ecuador has implemented quality management systems based on ISO 9001 in its schools. He believes commitment from senior administrators is the most important factor for improvement. Jennifer Stepniowski seconds that message—and adds that commitment needs to be follow by action.
• Though teachers often receive the blame, the real problem lies in the overall education system—For example, Bruce Waltuck concludes that we need to take Dr. Deming’s approach to improving school systems and focus on changing the entire student experience.
• Education quality impacts an entire country: Chris Hermenitt argues that schools must be as innovative as the business world if the U.S. is to keep up with global competition. He notes that the U.S. is far behind in implementing the same quality measures in education settings that were adopted by businesses 20 years ago. Guy Wallace notes that quality in education is a fully global issue and suggests that we pursue perfection—zero defects—even if it’s statistically unachievable.
• Standards used by educators and education institutions: Aimee Siegler notes similarities between the methods used to educate her children and the Baldrige criteria. Her kids have learned, she explains, to set goals for their actions that are tied to a higher goal, such as reading skills. What if we trained teachers and administrators to use Baldrige in such a way!
Drawing on his experience in India, Anshuman Tiwari, too, notes that Baldrige is the only framework that can help schools understand their customer, mission, strategy, recruitment, processes, measurements, and results. Another Influential Voices blogger from India, Rajan Thiyagarajan, believes it is essential to practice quality assurance rather than quality control in education—and notes that ISO 9001:2008 has been used in the schools of Nepal.
Matt Heusser examines the importance of forming a strategy with standards. He puts forth the idea that over time we can pick the methods that seem to produce good outcomes.
Speaking of standards, Robert Mitchell begins his post with a review of the 8 Quality Management Principles of ISO and writes that a business process redesign is necessary to “save and revitalize” the American education system. On a similar note, Walter Mena believes education should be viewed as a product or service and given the same attention to quality as in the commercial world.
Finally, Kerrie Anne Christian reflects on the wider role of education and different learning approaches, including e-learning and social media tools.
I recognize that quality professionals strive to make the entire world work better—and education is the starting point for building communities, no matter where they’re located. Let’s reach into the quality toolkit when we look for ways to enhance our schools and education systems. Let’s empower administrators, teachers—and, yes, schoolchildren—to improve their performance with tools such as Baldrige. Let’s remember the wisdom of the old parable – if you give someone a fish, they eat for a day; if you teach them to fish, they eat for a lifetime. Our educators are gifted, talented, and dedicated professionals–let’s teach them to fish.
Let’s raise the Global Voice of Quality and get to work. Our future depends on it.