Why a Bad Economy will be Good for Schools.

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This Poor Guy Has Nothing... but a Bad Suit and Tie.I am guessing this isn’t going to be one of my most popular blog titles.

While many people may think I am crazy, I really think a bad economy can be a positive thing for schools.

How is this possible?

Innovation comes during difficult times. There is really no point in being innovative when things are going well.

In the months and maybe even the years ahead, school districts will need to be innovative to survive (I refuse to use the phrase “think outside the box” and anyone who does should be sent to an island to live out the rest of their sad lives).

As educators we have an unending thirst for money (much like a junior high boy at lunch… never happy with the portions).

We want the local community to give us more.

We want the state to give us more.

We want the federal government to gives us more.

More, more, more.

While I will be the first one in line to say schools could use more money, I wonder how much is enough?

It is not vastly different than elementary teachers who horde construction paper (don’t deny it… you know you do).

Is there a magic amount that would satisfy us? I wish there were, but I doubt it exists.

As educators we can be hard to satisfy (don’t deny this either). It’s like a 3rd grader with a 15 minute recess. They always say the time passes too quickly. I think they would say the same thing if recess lasted 4 hours.

If the government tripled the money they gave us, I have a feeling we would still want 5% more (and I am being gracious, it would be way more than 5%).

There is no doubt that money helps in education, but I don’t think it’s everything.

If you gave me the choice of having more money or being surrounded by people who were innovative, I would take the people.

The challenge…innovation isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would be coming up with new and unique ideas to help students.

In every aspect of life the most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.

And that is what schools are going to need in this economy.

A good Plan B. And possibly a Plan C and D (notice, I didn’t go with Plan F… because that is never a good idea in school).

I am willing to bet by the time the economy picks up, schools will have also improved.

And while less money doesn’t make schools happy, it may just make us better.

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6 Responses to “Why a Bad Economy will be Good for Schools.”


  1. Melissa Smith
    on Mar 31st, 2009
    @ 7:38 pm

    I confess. I horded the construction paper and the big paper clips. But it got me nothing. When I left the my classroom and dove into the computer lab teacher roll I left 2 shelves in my locked filing cabinet full of color paper organized like a rainbow.

    I think now that we just need to get good working laptops to the students (preferably ones with built in cameras and microphones), a great network without too many great collaboration sites blocked, a great IT team to support technology in the school, and the ability to find out and utilize all the great FREE stuff out on the web like animoto, voicethread, pbwiki, wikispaces, mapskip, glogster, worlde, woices, all the free google apps, and SOOO much more!


  2. Harry Grzelewski
    on Apr 1st, 2009
    @ 7:24 am

    It is almost tragic that it takes such drastic circumstances to force us to be creative or innovative. The real problem with our thinking is that we are conditioned to the “hording” mentality. As Peter Senge mentions in his example of the tragedy of the commons, there are usually sufficient resources for everyone. The goal of the community is to think clearly and honestly about needs and wants. We never require this so everyone always thinks, I need more…One year I had a new yearbook advisor and his budget came in $20,000 dollars over the previous year. When I sat down to talk to him about it his response was, “I know how this game works…always ask for way more than you need…”The yearbook guy assumes everyone is operating this way and the only way to get yours is to go for it…As schools we not only need to be a community of learners but we also need to be a community of problem solvers, a community of shared responsibility. We cannot ignore the needs of the community in favor of our own selfish interests.

    I agree that this is a good time to sit down as a community and to begin sharing our thoughts about how we can move forward together. I agree that much good and innovation can come out of all of this.

    Thanks for your blog and for thinking…(i didn’t say it!)


  3. Angie
    on Apr 3rd, 2009
    @ 6:52 am

    For a while I’ve this dream of not giving the teachers any textbooks or ancillary materials and seeing what happens. In fact, I’d love to put teachers in an empty classroom and see what happens. ( Maybe I’d allow pencils and paper.) I’m pretty sure that the great teachers would make things happen anyway and the not-so-great would complain about the resources. Same things happen when the room is full of stuff.


  4. Eduguy101
    on Apr 4th, 2009
    @ 6:53 pm

    I have to agree, the best and most creative teachers can do a great job with little or no supplies.

    To often do we rely on textbooks, videos, workbooks or my unfavorite word in teaching…”packets”.

    Teachers are absolutely able to do more, much more, with less. It allows them to do what they do best, inspire, create and motivate.


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