Bersin's blueprint, business models, and Sears

One hears a lot these days about application of the "business model" to education. This approach is an important element of San Diego City Schools' Superintendent Alan Bersin's controversial "Blueprint for Success" K-12 reform package.

On Tuesday (April, 2002), my wife bought a new refrigerator and a freezer [separate units] from Sears. Looked at floor models, paid up front, and was told they would be delivered to us on Friday (and our old refrigerator/freezer picked up).

Thursday evening we got home to a phone message saying that delivery would take place between 10am-1pm, and there was no need to call back unless there was a problem at our end.

Friday morning (while I was at the vet's) we got a call about 9am saying that the delivery truck was running early and our purchases would arrive by 9:30. I returned to find my wife racing around the kitchen, quickly emptying the refrigerator/freezer's contents onto the kitchen table.

Shortly after 10am, the truck pulled up and the driver apologetically informed us that because of a shortage of trucks this morning, they could only deliver the freezer; the refrigerator would be delivered Saturday. After a few deep breaths (and an expletive or two) I helped install the freezer while my wife called Sears to double-check and see if we couldn't get delivery later in the day.

She was informed that in fact, the manufacturer had not delivered EITHER the freezer OR the refrigerator we had purchased and therefore that none would be available for an indeterminate length of time. On being told that the freezer was being unloaded as they spoke, this was amended to just the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in the garage I was informed that the freezer had been loaded overnight on its side, and we had to wait at least 5 hours before plugging it in, so that the "neon" could settle back to the bottom. [Who knows, it's a new energy efficient model, maybe they do use neon...].

All this did have a happy ending; the refrigerator (totally unavailable on Saturday) was delivered the following Monday morning.

Just something to think about next time you're considering the merits of an efficient, businesslike approach to educating children. Or shopping at Sears...