Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bad Theorists Shocked at Atlanta Public Schools' Rotten Carrots

Extrinsic motivation schemes are effective at two things.  They foster short term improvement in simple tasks within the control of one person and widespread cheating in complex systems with large amounts of interdependence.  The stories are many, executive stock option backdating, upcoding and physician kickbacks at Rick Scott's Columbia/HCA and now Atlanta Public Schools described as.

(An) enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.

The report accuses top district officials of wrongdoing that could lead to criminal charges in some cases.
Teachers should school themselves on CEO's, few of who were criminally charged.  Return the ill begotten gains, don't admit to any criminal wrongdoing, call the deal a settlement with the government and then run for governor in a Southern state. 

In 2009 I asked about Education Secretary Arnie Duncan's Reward-a-Palooza, layered on top of Bush's "No Teacher Left Un-Incentivized."
How might principals lie, cheat, and steal to garner payola?
Dr. W. Edwards Deming said "Fear causes wrong figures."  It's widespread in education, especially within APS.

For teachers, a culture of fear ensured the deception would continue.

Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal said:

“The report’s findings are troubling,” he said, “but I am encouraged this investigation will bring closure to problems that existed.”

Patently laughable, given motivation systems based on bad theory still exist.  APS is a case study for any organization spreading win/lose, pay for performance poison.  P4P originated in corporate board rooms, which ironically produced APS current Superintendent Erroll Davis.

Davis rose to President of Alliant Energy, then served on numerous corporate boards, BP, General Motors, Union Pacific, and PPG Industries.  Davis serves on the Compensation and Benefits Committee of Union Pacific's board, alongside U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue and Carlyle Group Senior Advisor Mac McLarty.  Greed addicts seem to know only method of motivating people to do a good job, money.

Healthcare faces a looming epidemic of P4P.  Expect to hear stories of doctors and nurses cheating in five to ten years time.  It's predictable.

Update 3-29-13:  The fish rots from the head down. Atlanta's Former Superintendent Beverly Hall has been indicted for racketeering, false statements and theft relative to cheating/stealing to garner the NCLB prize. 

Update 8-31-13:  Add El Paso to the list for widespread cheating to garner the prize.  Extrinsic motivators are not only bad theory, they produce poor role models.

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