Corporate Involvement In Schools

The debate in regards to corporate involvement was quite interesting and once again I found it difficult to pick a side that resonated with me. Corporate involvement has been happening in schools for many years now; having a wide range of involvement from corporations such as Duracell, milk, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc.

Often corporate involvement is seeking to make money and advertise rather than doing what is in best interest of our students.  Corporations who become involved within our schools need to use our school space to advertise, to provide their product etc.  As a health and physical education advocate I look at Pepsi or Coke as an example.  I find it hard to say no to corporate involvement because we need money; we need equipment and the things these corporations are providing for us we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.  However, on the flip side, offering products that are readily available on a daily basis that are not the most nutritional are definitely attributing to our high obesity rates among students.  It is very difficult to say corporate involvement, equipment and programming is more beneficial than the health and well-being of our students.  One example provided by the agree group was Pearson, this does not fully align with curriculum.  Should we as teachers be focusing on using tools, products, equipment that aren’t directly related to our curriculum? That is another topic to be debated!

Corporate involvement can have a huge impact on our students.  Watch to see how corporate involvement and volunteering has changed this club.

Our guest speakers provided some factual information about corporate involvement with schools. Some things they discussed I found intriguing and easily relatable were:

  • They discussed always having some sort of relationship with private companies and how controversies began with soft drink score boards. They found it hard to say whether it was an entirely negative experience as both sides gained positive things from the experience.
  • Corporations work to develop closer relationships with schools. Between the corporation and the schools they need to have shared understandings in regards to involvement, products etc.
  • The job and goal of corporate involvement and schools is to help children to have the necessities to learn at their full potential.
  • There was talk that suggested there has been a lot more controversy and moral dilemma in equity. There have been decisions made not to offer opportunities to certain schools because they cannot offer the same to other and/or all schools.
  • One of the biggest discussions surrounded relationships. As teachers we know the value of relationships, however, do corporations know the value? Our guest speakers suggested often times before corporate involvement can occur, a relationship needs to be created and goals need to be clearly outlined. How do schools and corporations work together in a partnership to meet these goals? How are these relationships created? All of these questions need to be answered before a corporation is able to have a successful impact within a school.

Overall I think both sides brought up good points and the discussion was interesting with no definitive answer. Some other questions/comments that came up that I concur with were:

  • Even if corporations are doing what is morally right, often times they are in it for the money. Are they really doing what is morally right or are they doing what they think is right for their corporation?
  • As teachers we are part of the problem. We are willing to directly market to kids, an example of this would be when we pass out scholastic book orders.
  • Our budget was recently cut, however the amount of money that is sent to Pearson on behalf of Regina Public Schools is actually quite shocking!
  • It is impossible for school districts to be able to provide everything that their partners can provide for our schools based on the level of funding that comes through the channels. Unless our funding situation is going to change, our relationships with partners are going to have to exist.
  • I think it comes down to what both sides want to accomplish. Taking a look from both standpoints and coming to an agreement based on what is a benefit to both sides. What is our goal? If you have a goal in mind, then the likelihood is greater that you will seek the right type of relationship.
  • I found it interesting with our discussion around private donations from families. The example provided was student’s spray painting a wall at school but the school administration was hesitant and refused to suspend because the students family had made private donations/contributions to the school. The school is hesitant to take action because if they do, that family will refuse to contribute or donate money in the future. Without these contributions the school is unable to offer some of the equipment, tools, programming etc. that they are currently offering. What are we teaching these kids, that money can buy anything?

I want to briefly touch on the discussion and information that our guest speaker provided to us tonight. First, she apologized for many of her statistics were based out of the U.S., however, immediately when she said this, my thought was I bet the statistics are quite similar here in Canada.  She said our primary purpose for using technology in classrooms is to test students.  What if as school boards we moved away from testing, are the tests actually providing good, factual, REAL information based on each student?  Honestly, I don’t think so!!  Often we forget about the history of education and technology.  As teachers we need to remember that technology has been existent within our classrooms for many years, although it may have been very different back then, but it was still there.  She suggested schools need to be run more like businesses, measured and controlled.  We often have this notion as teachers that data is going to fix schools. The data is going to show us how people learn, it is going to identify the best teachers, it is going to show how successful people are, or where people fail.  We seem to think this data is the be all and end all, when in reality it isn’t.  Just because my class didn’t score well on a test doesn’t mean I am an awful teacher and it doesn’t mean they aren’t smart.  There are a variety of things that might affect performance on a test and we cannot expect all of our students to be tested in the same fashion and on the same things and they will all do well.  I really appreciated her taking time out of her busy schedule to come share and discuss with us.  I believe as teachers we have a lot  to think about and how we can use technology in our classrooms to benefit our students and their learning.

 

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