Joel m. eichen 2015-11-23 08:17:34
Any opinions about this?
It relates to health care ……..
Schoolhouse Commercialism: The Billboarding of American Education
Jane Nissen Laidley
In 1989, Chris Whittle introduced Channel One to public schools across
America, reigniting the debate surrounding the role of commercial
interests in education and sparking a storm of controversy. Whittle
promised free TV monitors in exchange for a commitment from schools to
broadcast his daily 12-minute news program, including two minutes of
commercials advertising a variety of products targeted at Channel
One s young audience.
Although higher education has always maintained close ties to
commercial entities (principally in terms of research funding),
Whittle s venture launched a new era of commercial involvement in K-12
education. In the face of fierce criticism (see, e.g., Kuttner, 1996),
school districts across the country have signed agreements with
commercial entities providing everything from money to technology
hardware to computer training. This paper assesses the implications of
commercial involvement in K-12 education: its viability as a solution
to school funding problems and its effects on the education
Public concern about the commercialization of education is by no means
a recent phenomenon. As early as 1929, the National Education
Association created the Committee on Propaganda in the Schools in
response to growing concerns about the influx of private funding and
the strings to which it was attached to the public schools. Recently,
however, the trend seems to be on the rise:
One hundred fifty school districts across the country have
brokered deals with soft drink companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi
to help meet their budgetary requirements up from 46 in 1988.
In 1998-99, an estimated 100 public schools were being run
by for-profit firms.
Merrill Lynch predicted private companies could be running
10% of all public schools within 10 years and noted, The education
industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier in private
participation in public programs.
In fact, says Alex Molnar, professor of education at the University of
Wisconsin Milwaukee and author of Giving Kids the Business: The
Commercialization of America s Schools, Commercial activities now
shape the structure of the school day, influence the content of the
curriculum, and may determine whether or not a child will have access
to a variety of advanced learning technologies (Center for the
Analysis of Commercialism in Education, 1999).
Excluding the emergence of for-profit education ventures such as the
Edison Project, commercial involvement in K-12 public education falls
into two categories: commercially sponsored educational materials, and
exclusive agreements and incentive programs. The following paragraphs
examine some of the pitfalls associated with each one.
Commercially Sponsored Educational Materials: A Faustian Bargain?
A corporation s offer of free educational materials to a school
strapped for cash can be very seductive. Too often, however, the
strings and conditions attached to such offers render them Faustian
bargains at best. For example:
In return for Channel One s offer of free television
monitors, schools must guarantee that 90% of their students will watch
the 12-minute news program 90% of school days. That translates to a
total of 36 hours or about six school days of TV watching per student
per year, including 6 hours of commercials per year.
Zap Me! another commercial sponsor of educational
materials, profits from the push to connect schools to the Internet.
Founded in 1998, Zap Me! provides participating schools with a
completely equipped computer lab, a range of educational software, and
access to the Zap Me! Netspace, a proprietary subset of some 10,000
selected Websites all free of charge. In return, participating schools
must guarantee that each computer in the lab will be in use at least
four hours per day and must provide access to the lab after school to
Zap Me! and its corporate partner, Sylvan Learning Systems. Zap Me!
funds its program by selling advertising space on Netspace, its Web
portal, collecting and selling aggregated student data (including
family income figures), and organizing promotions targeting students.
Exclusive Agreements and Incentive Programs: The Caffeinating of
America s School Children
The largest category of commercializing activity in schools involves
exclusive agreements and incentive programs with corporate vendors
such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Typically such agreements involve
promises of cash in return for a school district s commitment to offer
only that company s products for sale on its premises. Too often the
deals require schools to blatantly promote the product to reap the
full financial benefit of the agreement. For example, one school
administrator sent a memo to district principals reminding them that
students needed to consume 70,000 cases of Coke products for the
district to receive the full financial benefit of its exclusive sales
agreement with the company (Center for the Analysis of Commercialism
in Education, 1999).
Districts using corporate-sponsored educational materials defend their
actions by claiming that teachers are capable of evaluating materials
for commercial bias and using them in appropriate ways. Some may even
use such materials as opportunities to teach media literacy. And
regardless of corporate bias, many teachers prefer the sponsored
materials to what the district is able to offer. Said one middle
school teacher, If it s free (and good), it s for me. Great, glossy,
up-to-date, motivating materials . . . are a heck of a lot better than
the 1966 textbooks that many teachers are refurbishing to pass out
each September (Herzog, 1999).
Taming the Tiger
In an era when the education enterprise has become increasingly
competitive, families decide where to live on the basis of local
schools, and teachers are increasingly accountable for students
achievement, it is to be expected that educators should turn to the
commercial marketplace to help them survive in the education
marketplace. There s nothing wrong with that corporations should be
involved in education. It is, after all, from the ranks of today s
students that they will draw tomorrow s employees, managers, and
executives. And the fact is that corporate dollars can bridge the gap
between schools educational goals and what public funding enables
them to achieve.
But such dollars must be free of incentive-laden conditions.
Corporations must be compelled to have their brand identified with
equal educational opportunity and public service, and not with profit.
Schools have the corporate tiger by the tail, and they cannot afford
to let go. How, then, do they tame it?
Center for the Analysis of Commercialism in Education. (1999,
September 30). Cashing in on kids
Herzog, S. (1999, September 30). Selling out kids: Commercialism in
public schools. Our Children Magazine
Kuttner, R. (1996). Everything for sale: The virtues and limits of
markets. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Molnar, A. (1996). Giving kids the business: The commercialization of
America s schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Joel M. Eichen, D.D.S.
We re Just A Duck Call Away!
STANDARD DISCLAIMER applies ~
meaning no one IN PENNSYLVANIA
has seen the tooth or teeth in
question so take this advice in
proper context ~ its the internet!
We is guessin’!