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Education: The Next Corporate Frontier


#1

Education: The Next Corporate Frontier

Kristen Steele

I’m no education expert. Having worked in the environmental and new economy fields for the last two decades, my main concern when it comes to schooling has been what children learn. Along with most activists I know, I’d like to see kids get outdoors more, learn about the intricacies of ecosystems, understand the urgency of climate change, experience growing their own food, and acquire the knowledge and understanding essential to becoming environmentally-conscious citizens. I’d like school reform to be a part of rebuilding vibrant local economies and sustainable communities.


#2

I taught science and engineering for a quarter of a century at prominent public universities. I was amazed when administrators seriously thought that the addition of technology (then just powerpoint) to classrooms would propel things forward. I stayed with chalk, so that students would have to route ideas through their minds between their eyes seeing the information and their hands duplicating it. What is privatization but another gizmo intended to fix education. Remove the administrators, pay the teachers the savings, keep the schools in the commons, hire the best and stay out of their way!

At a time when automation (and outsourcing) is reducing the requirement for labor, more should be invested in education (not just training) through more human contact (lower student-teacher ratios) in order to build a society that interacts in a civilized manner. Relinquishing control to technology and corporate trolls is an abomination and an ignorant way to proceed. Profit$ be damned.


#4

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#5

I don't favor vouchers but what if we required all schools that receive public money in the form of vouchers to accept all students who apply; perhaps setting up a no-cost lottery for places if they are over subscribed.? If they had to perform with the same student body as the public schools, their scores might just go down.

There has to be a better way to teach than having kids sit in a classroom for hours feeling bored. The entire education model is broken and not intended to encourage independent and critical thought.


#6

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#7

"Profit$ be damned."

i wrote in the student debt thread a couple days ago:

We don't just need debt-free education. We need profit-free education.


#8

Ms. Steele: You had me practically at hello.

This is truly sterling stuff! Maybe it takes a woman to get off the linear track and connect the key dots as you have in this truly apt and powerful paragraph:

"Privatization in education is eerily reminiscent of every other sector that has come under corporate control; many of the justifications and methods are exactly the same. Just as in agriculture, technology is touted as creating “efficiency.” Just as in healthcare, we’re presented with the illusion of “consumer choice.” Just as in global trade, corporations are deregulated and given generous subsidies. Just as in manufacturing, skilled employees are displaced by underpaid workers with no job security. Just as in energy, the profit motive trumps the wellbeing of people and planet. Just as in politics, legislation is influenced by rich private interests. In none of these sectors has corporate control brought about increased wellbeing for any but the richest segment of society. Why will education be any different? "

Write on!


#9

The bastards use EVERY conceivable loophole to continue their rabid rape of The Commons:

This deserves repeating and reminds me of the way idiots like Rush Limbaugh turn Affirmative Action around to argue for that lonely, underprivileged "minority," the white male!

"As a former teacher from New Jersey put it, the charter school movement has been “transformed from community-based, educator-initiated local efforts designed to provide alternative approaches for a small number of students, into nationally funded efforts by foundations, investors, and educational management companies to create a parallel, more privatized school system.” Like so many initiatives started as local alternatives to global capitalism, the charter school has become the perfect mechanism for private companies to insert themselves between the government and the people, siphoning off tax money into their coffers. "


#10

Isn't it great when charters can make claims for higher scores and game the systems of accountability that measure results? Note, too, how closely this M.O. matches that of Monsanto and the manipulators of more and more of our once natural seed foods? These bastards argue that gen-tech products are more efficiently produced, feed more people, are perfectly safe, and so forth as they pour on the pesticides, meld poisons INTO the plant foods, and just twist arms to doctor up the test results... or they otherwise fund all the research to better ensure that it meet their stated standards.

The foxes now own the henhouses.


#11

Fortunately, there are whistle blowers in many fields. I can't recall the name of the individual but the subject being exposed was how the Advertising field not only worked, but used certain bright colors and images specifically to attract child consumers under 5 years of age.

For instance, if a mother had her 3 year old in a shopping cart, the packaging of a cereal product would be directed at that child.

One of the rationales behind this "behavior" was the significance of capturing a child--as loyal consumer--early on. In this way, that child would hypothetically remain a consumer loyal to that brand across their entire life-span.

Note how these advertising strategies run parallel with these corporately-run "educational" programs: They are taking control of children's minds before those minds have matured--through genuine exploration of the world and time to develop personally-honed, critical thought.

It is another form of rape. Truly.


#12

One way to avoid sacrificing education to make large shareholders richer might be to set a maximum limit of corporate shares one person can own, by yearly referendum. Spreading the shares among a much larger segment of the people would tend to democratize corporations.


#13

The title of this says it all and is very true. Education is now going to come front and center as the crossroads we've reached becomes impossible for Americans to ignore. The corporations really want the schools, business in general wants in. Thirty five years after Reagan's election this is the remaining big prize that they are already messing with, disassembling, and ripping off. The next few years are going to be the most psychologically violent ever for the American public school system as teachers and educators are forced to square off against some of the worst insanity we have ever seen from the private sector. If anyone doubts it read Education Weekly and see what is going on. It's an impartial publication for teachers which daily reports the stuff happening It is more of war than most people realize.


#14

What is not mentioned is the amount of money spent on testing, testing, testing especially in the state of Texas. Public school districts are mandated to administer STAR tests every other week, which takes away vital teaching time. Teachers have to teach to the test thus interfering with established curricula and impeding long-term learning. Teacher performance is tied to test scores. Money spent on the tests and on the corresponding test scoring runs into the million$$$ and takes away from other goods and services necessary for teachers to teach and schools to operate. Testing services as well as charter school groups are owned by any number of hedge funds, whose sole purpose is to make profits.

Privatization of public education is heinous and creates a sub-class that undermines society as a whole.


#15

Our schools now are training the students to regurgitate the 'right' answer quickly. No thinking allowed. Just short term memory. The 'right' answer is chosen by the corporations that wrote the test and gets big bucks to sell them to the school district and then pay them again to correct the tests. What a deal for them as the children are denied the chance to really learn something.

Like WiseOwl says, students have to route ideas through their minds between seeing and hearing the information their hands duplicate it--but the real job of learning is to connect this new idea, thought or attitude with something they already know. You learn by making connections in your brain. You have to know something and then add to that to get educated. You need memory to build up your ability to learn new things. I really fear what the kids who now are five years old with a 'smart' phone. With the 'smart' phone you don't bother to remember anything....and so you don't. No memory, no learning.

Gadgets and new technology don't educate anyone. There has to be a connection, a personal touch and concern, between a student and a teacher.


#16

Well, it makes perfect sense it's Texas. An endless schizoid scene. Testing all the time, with a historic reputation for poor public schools and also an absolute worship of the most rapacious brand of capitalism around. I feel deep empathy for the kids who are being dragged through this. The hedge fund captains of industry are truly evil for doing it, and it will catch up with the state because they will be no further ahead for testing and wasting money.


#17

I think that is what most people believe who have any intellect at all. Young people are being literally changed by things like Twitter, and their social skills alone give it away.


#18

It is claimed that the top 20% of students manage to get what they need out of school, regardless of what their school either does to them or fails to do for them. In many cases these top students are getting what they need educationally at home and/or from the public library once they learn how to read. I also suspect that many parents who choose to use vouchers at private schools are more interested in keeping their children away from children of other ethnic groups against whom the parents are prejudiced, and that many of the others want their children indoctrinated in doctrine matching that believed by the parents.


#19

In my state, the right wing has cut and cut school budgets so schools have to increasingly form "partnerships" with corporate interests to make up for the budget cuts, our new college chancellor is a former CEO of a mid sized firm and has never taught a class and Goldman Sachs has given us a grant to teach the right wing agenda for their "10,000 small businesses" program. The grant money $500,000 came from the billions of taxpayer money that was used to bail them out so socialism is paying to support their right wing agenda. This agenda includes the new neo-liberal "trickle down" theory called entrepreneurship. The great thing for GS is that in order for a small business to participate in this program, they have to provide financial data on their business for several years. Thus, GS will be able to determine which small businesses are most profitable and thus finance a international large business to take out these small businesses. A most evil company.


#20

The "war on education" actually began by the end of the 1960s. We've come a long way since then, having been conquered by the Reagan Revolution. America is now a very different place. Let's be blunt: The sole purpose of every American is to work hard to enrich corporations. (Arguably, corporations today have greater power than leaders of nations.) Everything else is just "fluff." We have reached the point where the purpose of public education is exclusively that of preparing a necessary portion of the population to be of use to corporate powers. Those who can't afford college serve as the temp (disposable) workforce, used when needed, discarded when not needed. In the US, we need only to educate that fraction of the population that is necessary to serve corporate interests.


#21

Actually, I strongly disagree that it's about race. The middle class of this generation has gone to considerable lengths to keep a wall between their families, and the families of the poor. The great majority of US poor are white. Even liberals have turned up their noses to the poor. This has been a long era of middle class elitism.