This past weeks debate was about corporations being involved in education. As teachers we all know it takes money to teach students. The pressure to have resources to teach is incredible. Teachers often invest their own money on: learning resources, self regulation tool, and rewards. Many people believe that teachers should be reimbursed for the money they put in or that teachers should not be spending their own money on these things. If we look at the Saskatchewan budget we see that there is no extra money in the budget to help teachers with resources. Let alone even to pay their agreed upon wages. So corporations have offered a helping hand. For example Coke made a deal with a school, “Coca-Cola paid the district $4 million upfront and an additional $350,000 a year to sell its beverages in schools. The annual payments have funded field trips, gym uniforms, SMART Boards and other frills that individual school budgets may not otherwise have afforded.”
As great as the funding is to be able to afford smart boards, field trips, gym uniforms, etc. Is it worth exposing students to more advertising of unhealthy foods? Coke saw the benefit of being able to sell its beverages for 10 years!
So if we look at this deal on the surface it seems pretty good. Both goals of education and corporations are being met. Steve points out “The goals of education are student learning and success, through a variety of means and factors. The goals of a corporation are, by definition, profit.” Schools are getting funding for student learning and success while large corporations like Coke are getting profits from the sales of goods in schools.
But how far can corporations take this?
I think Pearson has an outright monopoly in some cases over things like standardized test. Standardized tests are used in schools to collect data. Data that drives where money is distributed and to compare one school to another. So Pearson decided develop a test to ensure students are at grade level in grade 3. This is helpful for division offices so they can see where each of there schools are at and compare. But, Pearson gets paid for each student that takes the test. Throughout the years they have made up more and more tests and continually get paid.
This leads me to think that Pearson is now making decisions on what education is important for students to know. If funding and supports are based off of test scores Pearson really gets to decide what knowledge is important. Do we really want some corporation deciding what youth learn? Are we giving corporations too much control? Or is this our only option with the government cutting budgets?