Posted in ECI 830

Corporate Partnerships in Education is Like Walking on Thin Ice…..Be Careful!!

The topic of corporate involvement in education is certainly enlightening to say the least. I have always had negative pre-conceived notions towards Corporations and their “money is the bottom line” mentality. After reading the debates and most blogs, I still feel uneasy and nervous about their involvement in education.

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Nations Magazine

I have always enjoyed Scholastic book orders for my students and for building my classroom library. I get to add to our library and my students enjoy new books every year that are relevant to their changing interests. I have purchased 100’s of books for my classroom at an affordable price range. Scholastic certainly does their job well when marketing to teachers and students to improve their bottom line. Clearly, they keep up with what is relevant for students and teachers to ensure their business remains at the top. Well done Scholastic!

When it comes to the business of Pearson, I have a link to Pearson in my bookmark tabs on my home computer as well as my school laptop. All of these years, I have been unaware of the impact corporations like Pearson and Scholastic have had on my students and on myself. The many corporate links through our day to day teaching ultimately go unnoticed unless it has been brought to our attention. I remember when the Pearson textbooks were given to me in my classroom. I was happy to have a newer, relevant textbook to teach the Science and then later Social Studies curriculum. I was also pleased to see First Nations content in the texts. Before, First Nations representations were very out of date, negative, or irrelevant information represented in a colonized and derogatory way. Within a year of having the Grade 4 Pearson textbook for Social Studies, my understanding of the content of the First Nations content already was shifting. Once I took my Anti-Oppressive Education and Curriculum Development courses, I was able to look at these textbooks through a different lens. I noticed many gaps in information, a lot of fluff, and I realized that using this textbook would require additional information and more out of the box activities to teach the outcomes in a more meaningful and relevant way. What I once thought was a helpful resource, soon became limited and only partly relevant for my students.

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Pearson

I question the content of a new textbook when it leaves out relevant and truthful information from Canada’s History. It does not refer to the Truth and Reconciliation Report. I realize it may have been written before the document was released, but it fails to include a lot of relevant information/gaps. Why is this information omitted? Our school board and curriculum require us to teach the information and yet it isn’t included in the text. Should we keep certain facts about the history of Canada, specifically Residential Schools away from our students? Are the realities too difficult to hear? I would answer “No!” It is time to tell the truth and support First Nations, Inuit, & Metis Canadians through their healing process. I just can’t imagine an American company like Pearson focusing enough on the content of a textbook to ensure it includes all the necessary and relevant information of the truth! I often ask myself why, as I am sure many educators do. Unfortunately, the answer often comes down the bottom line of “making money.”

I appreciate Kelsie’s and Tyler’s choice to include the video by John Oliver. He certainly has a unique way of representing his take on big Corporate companies like Pearson and the impact of standardized testing for students. His humour and platform allows this information to reach a much larger audience than ever before. I will include the video because it is worth watching if you haven’t already. Clearly, as many ECI 830 bloggers have indicated in their research, as well as Audrey Watters, Ed tech is big business and Pearson is cashing in!

As Audrey Watters indicated, education systems, their need for data through standardized testing, budgeting, and partnerships with corporations have been flawed for years and years. It is nothing new. Naturally, the question is why? I don’t have all of the answers but I do believe it comes down to “Money,” as always. The discourse of Corporate business has not changed much over the years. In fact, it is getting worse. Many Americans want Donald Trump to be their President and they don’t want to implement stricter gun laws! Yikes, how scary is that!

I think Canadians and Educators have to be extremely careful when considering what Corporations actually have children’s needs and education at the forefront of their decision making. At the very least, student needs must be somewhere close to the amount of focus they have when it comes to making money.

I appreciate Danielle’s positive outlook on Corporate partnerships that do, in fact, benefit student learning. I am glad that she found a number of examples of how our government’s leaner than lean budget pushes teachers and school boards to think “outside of the box.” Or suggesting that she thinks we “need to look critically at the ed. tech. available to us, before jumping on the “free” or “funded” bandwagon, we need to decide if the ed. tech. being offered is actually something that will enhance student learning.” A positive outlook is definitely needed, and ultimately most teachers do think outside of the box because for lack of a better reason, “we have no choice!” Budget cuts, corporate greed, and standardized testing is not going away anytime soon. Being thoughtful, reflective, and creative is the only way to keep trudging along when so many obstacles continually end up in the way!

Clearly, corporate business will go to any length to get what they want. What are you final thoughts?

 

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Author:

My name is Jennifer and I am a Grade 4/5 teacher with the Regina Public School Board. I am taking my 8th class towards my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. EC&I 833 Foundations of Educational Technology: History, Theory, and Practice.

6 thoughts on “Corporate Partnerships in Education is Like Walking on Thin Ice…..Be Careful!!

  1. Great post, Jennifer! I am completely in the same boat; I had no idea the level of corporate involvement in schools. I, too, am not a fan of corporations being so involved in education, but in practice, I too have used Pearson constantly and Scholastic orders. I feel very naive when it comes to all these things. But you are right; continuing to be positive and creative can only bring out the good (hopefully). Thanks!

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  2. Great post Jennifer. I totally agree that we need to be careful in evaluating resources that we use with our kids. I do think that as Dean mentioned, there are companies that do have students’ best interests in mind. The tough part is deciding which companies should be involved in our students’ education.

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  3. Evaluating is so important, but very rarely is it the classroom teachers that get a voice in the choices. I use Scholastic and don’t feel like I’m selling my soul. I think they have some great options for books. I believe it depends on your school and community and classroom for how and if you use them. There are benefits to being able to recommend books that can be options for families to purchase at lower prices.
    Great points about the content that is lacking in “updated” textbooks! Thanks for your reflection!

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  4. Your welcome and thanks for reading!
    Teachers definitely need a voice in assessment for sure! It’s not a one size fits all type of thing. At least, give the teacher/student a few choices so that a child can be assessed on the same topic but perhaps in a format that meets the individual student’s strengths and abilities.

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