Public Education has sold its soul to corporate interests.
What a powerful sentence hey? A sentence one may not want to read, think about or participate in a debate. For the last couple of debates, I have been very on the fence, switching back and forth anytime one of the debaters made a strong argument. However, this week was a little bit different. I was challenged to understand the disagreeing side way more than for the agreeing. Below I outline the debate, pro’s and con’s to both and from their you can make your decision!
There were many examples outlined throughout the debate that did justify how public education is selling its soul to corporate interests. One of the bigger arguments that acts for the debate topic is standardized testing. In a video shared, viewers are exposed to the secrets behind standardized tests and Pearson’s roles with these. Some background knowledge on Pearson is that it is the biggest textbook company in North America. They tailor their textbooks specifically to this demographic because Texas is their biggest buyer. Pearson has generated relationships with specific people to be able to largely impact the laws and regulations of standardized testing. In other words, Pearson makes money every time a specific standardized test is written. In the same video I referred to earlier, I learned that every time a student fails one of these tests, they have to retake it to move on to the next grade. Meaning that every time a student retakes a test, Pearson is getting paid. Looking at the bigger picture, you can see that Pearson makes money off of student’s failing and having to re-write tests once, twice or maybe even multiple times. How does Pearson making money off of student failure create a culture for success? It doesn’t. This sends a message to administrators, students, teachers, families, community members that corporations such as Pearson are making a profit off of education…instead of thinking about bettering student success and their future.
Anther example that came out of the debate was how schools are being sponsored by corporate companies. According to an article, over 80% of schools are sponsored by either Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Allowing these companies to have a foot in the door, gives them consistent advertising to the growing population. When students are exposed to these companies at school, they are more likely to want these products outside of school as well. Not only is this buying into the fact that education has let corporations dictate what is placed in schools, but it is also a major health concern. Young people should not be exposed to this type of advertisement in a space where they are trying to learn. During the debate, my classmates and I dug into this issue a little deeper and exposed the other companies that buy into education. We talked about hot lunch and the food that gets brought in for that. I remember it was KFC or taco time, and it was only costing $2-3/ lunch. Again, when people are exposed to different companies at school those places stick with a person. I guarantee you I ate at KFC more because I had it for hot lunch and thought it was the best food I’d ever eaten. If this is the case, then as educators we need to think critically about the food/corporations we are getting sponsored by. Potentially getting Freshii for hot lunch rather than KFC would be a healthier alternative.
The article, talks about how universities have turned into/act like corporations. Every year students see a rise in tuition rates, textbooks, fees, etc. Not only this but universities try to hook their potential ‘buyers’ in through consumerism. They market their amazing dorms, the cafeteria, book store and other campus amenities and make them attractive on the market. Unfortunately, in today’s century you almost always need a degree for a corporate job. Before you even get a degree, you are having to buy into the consumerism/corporate idea.
Counter to the agreeing side, this perspective looks at corporate companies as an assistance to public education. Corporate companies play a role in education regardless of what stance you take on this debate topic. The difference however is whether or not corporate companies are helping or hinder educational spaces. In the article, EdTech Investments Rise To A Historical $9.5 Billion: What Your Startup Needs To Know, Belsky shares these following tips:
In addition, public education has to think about where they can get funding. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in budget cuts recently creating all sorts of different challenges. One of those being the ability to afford the necessities to succeed and learn in the 21st century. When do we stop asking for more funding that we now will be turned away? The government doesn’t want to let any more funding than they already are, so turning to corporations may be our only option. Schools need sponsorships.
One of the questions we were left with in the debate was, how much are corporations actually influencing our culture? Corporations have the ability to sway education from one direction to another. I talked about this in my agreeing arguments, but think about the type of computers we use in school. Chrome books, PC’s, Windows. Believe it or not, but using these brands of technology has had some sort of influence on you determining which computer/laptop you want to purchase. If it’s this easy to influence people to buy what is being used in schools, how easy is it to influence what is being taught in schools…
Thanks for reading, that is all for now!
This week’s quote comes from the movie Fight Club. I thought it related to both the agreeing and disagreeing side of the debate topic this week! “The things you own, end up owning you.” Tyler Durden