Monday, 20 June 2016

Deals with the Devil, or maybe just not with Bill Gates?

Faustian What?

 
Photo Credit : Pixabay Open Clip Art


When thinking about the question,  has public education sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a  Faustian bargain?    I had to think are the Google apps, Edmodo, or  other tools really that terrible?  Back in 2013 I began using Edmodo as a blended classroom tool, now within Regina Public we are apart of the Google Apps for Education movement. I appreciate the tools that we've been given.  I feel that the students are progressing at a faster rate with their writing skills, reading skills, and their abilities to get through more of the content in curriculum subjects such as social, health, or the sciences.


Budget Cuts... How Will We Afford New....

When looking at our current political and financial landscape here in Saskatchewan,  we are being forced to face the reality of budget cuts. When faced with budget cuts,  or lack of funding,  in any aspect of life I've always been proud of myself for being resourceful. When the money is not directly handed out I've simply found a way to get more whether that's through fundraising donations or some form of corporate sponsorship for any event that I've been a part of?  Keeping this in mind what is wrong with public education doing the same thing?  


As part of the readings with week we read an article from the Globe and Mail around major tech companies supporting STEM programs, I say go for it!  Everyone knows the latest and greatest Tech is expensive.   With the downturn in the economy in the last 10 years between the 2008 crash and the low oil prices for the last year-and-a-half budgets are being cut all over the place why not turn to corporate sponsorship's, why not have major companies like Microsoft, Dell, or Google help support the classrooms across all of Canada.  

Corporate Agenda's Are Not For Education

The article from Forbes on the Gates Foundation seemed to be of no use for this argument.  I understand that they are trying to make a connection between corporate sponsorship and graduation rates, but that is not how I see corporate sponsorship functioning at its highest levels.  The schools need to connect themselves with corporations or foundations such as the Gates Foundation and they need to work together, not have all mighty Bill tell the educators how to do their jobs.  When collaboration takes precedence over pride the benefit will be for all the individuals involved.  


Relationships

In the debate Dean Shareski talked about the relationships between the corporations and the schools. I feel this is an important point because the concept of the partnership being a relationship will hold both sides accountable in these situations. With the ever changing landscape of education, especially Ed Tech, it is fiscally impossible within our budgets to stay up to date with the newest and best products.  I feel if divisions, schools, and teachers partner with companies such as Dean talked about, who have their mantra about keeping the students best interest at heart, then those are the companies we should be working with.


Katia shared her experience in Baltimore, Maryland, with the Edison Schools, where the company purchased the rights to take over the school and see if they could improve the test scores.  The school was regimented and forced the teachers to use their material in teaching.  Eventually they lost their funding due to even lower test scores.  This is another example of why corporations should not be in charge of a school, but should act in partnership with the trained educators.  


Are all Corporations Corrupt?

Justine wondered if all educational companies have this ideology.  I would guess not.  Corporations are in it for profit.  What the decision makers for the school boards need to do is, research and find the motivation behind the corporations that they want to develop relationships with.  What is the reason they became that company, do they have a belief/need/desire for benefiting students behind them.  Finding those companies will take some work, but if we can partner with those companies who are in it for the children as much as they are for the capitalist reasons then that would be the ones I would choose.


Teachers Need To Be Trained With The Tech Tools 

There is an argument around teacher training,  knowledge, or ability to teach beyond the individual's skill set has come up quite frequently throughout the last number of the debates.  The Globe and Mail article, Why tech giants are investing in STEM programs for students, quoted Elyse Allan, who is the president and CEO of GE Canada,  saying


“It is important to engage the kids early because we want to make sure that as they go through school they are motivated to take the courses they need, to have the skills and educational background to data and science and those kinds of technology jobs”.  


Through corporate sponsorship we would be able to connect with the skilled and knowledgeable people from the variety of  Corporations that design  and develop  the tools that we are seeking the corporate sponsorship for.  By doing this I feel we will be doing our job as educators in preparing our students for the upcoming world they are going to have to live and function in.  


When it comes down to it, I feel as long as you are using the technology to benefit the learners within your classroom, teaching to the curriculum provided by your government, why not use technology, why not use GAFE over Edmodo, or Pearson as your main science text over another resource.  If it is going to benefit the student, I feel it is our duty as educators to utilize that tool if it is afforded to us.