Tuesday evening’s debate focused on whether public education has sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a Faustian bargain. Personally, I found this topic to be very interesting as I had no prior knowledge regarding corporate interests and its relationship with education. To be honest, before this debate I had never paid much attention to the role corporate businesses play in regards to education and the possible repercussions involved. However, both the Agree and Disagree teams brought forward many valuable points which helped me to grasp a better understanding about education and their involvement with corporate companies.
Whether we choose to believe it or not, technology has become a huge market within the business industry. Essentially, the ideology of business is applied to education and schools have become more of a commercial venture due to the requirements for technology. Audrey Watter’s explains, “Testing remains the primary reason why schools are purchasing computers as they are tools used to test students”. Therefore, with all of this emphasis put on testing, we need to consider the following questions: “Why do we test and whose interests do we serve by testing”?
The agreeing team (Tyler and Justine) spoke about how companies such as Pearson, are making large profits simply through Standardized testing. Within the United States, the amount of testing for students is increasing and Pearson appears to be benefiting from student failures. Just when you thought that was bad, Pearson products that are purchased by the school board do not always align with the mandated curriculum, yet they seem to be in control of what is being taught within schools. If this is the case, why do schools continue to use this resource? Why does this company have such a tight grip on teachers? Furthermore, many school boards are paying to access programs such as Google and Microsoft so that they may be used to support classroom learning. Within my school, our staff uses Google Docs in order to read/post announcements, share documents and most importantly, stay up to date with what is happening within our school. However, before Tuesday evening, it had never occurred to me that our school board pays to subscribe to these online tools.
Our guest speaker, Dean Shareski (Community Manager of Discovery Education), explained “How schools have always had relationships with corporate companies” and it is untruthful to note that schools have not relied on the support and funding in order to meet their specific needs. As teachers, we aware that schools are underfunded and sometimes require assistance from corporate businesses in order to better our schools and meet our teaching needs. However the important question remains: At what costs should the integrity of our work be negotiated? In order for education to be successful with the help from corporate companies, it requires partnerships to align with the special interests of the school division goals as well as determine whether the relationship will benefit the purchase. Moreover, the partnership with corporations should not compromise the integrity of the schools. It is essential for school divisions to seek the right partnerships as the companies should be willing to meet their needs. However, we must show caution and never forget the number 1 priority of corporate companies which is to make money.