Posted 6 months ago on Nov. 16, 2012, 10:27 a.m. EST by zacherystaylor
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
While writing a blog post that was related to advertising to children and Charter Schools I found a bunch of studies by Alex Molnar on the topic that have a lot to say on the subject and it isn't being reported by the corporate media but it is much more credible than what is. Also there are many more academic sources at the National Education Policy Center which I thought some of you would be interested. Here are a few of what I thought were good highlight that I found so far. I still haven't read most of it so there is almost certainly much more that is worth more attention.
Charter Schools: The Smiling Face of Dis-investment Oct. 1996
Charter schools are hot. But will commercial motives, money problems, and unproven boasts about student gains cool down the education reform of the '90s?
Everyone, it seems, loves charter schools. Time magazine has called them the "New Hope for Public Schools" (Wallis 1994). The New Democrat, the Democratic Leadership Council's journal, says charter school advocates are "Rebels With a Cause" (Mirga 1994). And The New York Times (in an unusual note of irony) calls them the "Latest 'Best Hope' in U.S. Education" (Applebome 1994). ....
Despite the rosy image provided bythe child-centered reformers, most of the money and political influence drivingthe charter movement have been provided by the zealots and the profiteers. ....
“The Educational Cost of Schoolhouse Commercialism” by Alex Molnar, Faith Boninger, Joseph Fogarty Nov. 7 2011
How Commercializing Activities Discourage Critical Thinking
Promoting critical thinking is the essence of what John Dewey termed an "educative" experience. 50 Educative experiences increase students’ ability to have fruitful, creative, and enjoyable experiences in the future. Mis-educative experiences, according to Dewey, are those that arrest or distort the growth of future experience. 51 They may be fun at the time, or even increase some automatic skill, but they narrow the range and richness of possible future experience. When for-profit corporations are involved in schools, irrespective of what the particular surface aspects of a given relationship may be, the heart of the relationship is mis-educative. This is because for-profit corporations must maintain a focus on the bottom line—they must make a profit. The mission of the school, on the other hand, is to provide educative experiences for students. The tension between the educative mission of schools and the corporate imperative to earn profits means that when corporations enter the schools, there is going to be pressure to create student experiences and shape student attitudes in ways that support, or at least do not undermine, the corporate bottom line. This pressure is inherent in the relationship. When Gary Gutting considered the implications of the corporate profit motive more generally in a recent New York Times op-ed, he pondered what corporations do in the case of conflict between profit and responsible action. He concluded: “Given their raison d’être, when push comes to shove corporations will honor their commitments to shareholders’ profit.” Moreover, he pointed out, from a profit perspective, the appearance of social responsibility is worth more than actual social responsibility. Both of these conclusions are relevant to corporate activity in schools, which is portrayed as socially responsible action but almost always involves an attempt to influence students to buy, either immediately or in their future. In their attempts to influence public policy regarding advertising to children in schools (through lobbying) and public perceptions (through advertising), corporations promote first and foremost their profits, even when that goal undermines genuinely educative experiences.52 And although it is true that all curriculum has limits, and that some of the schools‘ non-corporate curriculum may very well be mis-educative as well, all corporate commercializing activity in schools has a core element that is inherently mis-educative.
Commercializing activities in school foster a common-sense culture that favors both the specific brands that get their advertising into the school and a noncritical mindset that facilitates the effectiveness of such advertising. At their most simplistic, corporate commercializing activities discourage thinking of any kind (“Hungry? Grab a Snickers!”). When more complex, they discourage aspects of critical thinking that might lead to disagreement with or discrediting of the sponsor‘s message—especially critical thinking skills having to do with identifying and evaluating sponsors‘ points of view and biases, considering alternative points of view, and generating and evaluating alternative solutions. They insinuate sponsors’ points of view or products into the daily life of the school in a way that students accept them without thinking about them. They also (either actively or passively) inhibit critical thought about those points of view or products.
When Nike adopted the fourth grade at Rachel Cloues‘s school for a year, for instance, the company‘s employees played games with the children and gave them branded gifts. In an article she wrote about her experience with Nike‘s sponsorship in her school, Cloues described watching “… as our students were indoctrinated into a corporate culture, experiencing the lovely Nike Campus without being asked to consider where Nike products are made, who makes them, and under what conditions.” 54 She, however, was wondering about those questions that Nike was happy to avoid. Back at school, she tried to teach her students to think more critically about their consumer choices. 55 She designed a math lesson to help them think about where their sneakers were made and an advertising unit to help them see how media influences their decisions. This teacher felt, however, that such lessons were not supposed to be happening as Nike support flowed into the school. In the end, she wrote, "I didn‘t have the tools or the support to take either of these projects to any great depth. I also was not comfortable using Nike as an example for critical study. I worried that people at our school would view it as 'inappropriate.‘"56 If Nike had been aware of her efforts, it seems very likely the corporate sponsors would have found the lesson inappropriate." …..
That‘s a very good question. As matter of policy, the best way to stop is before you start. This can be accomplished by changing the current tacit presumption that commercializing activities in schools are not harmful unless proven to be so to an explicit presumption that commercializing activities are harmful unless proven not to be. This is, in fact, the way new drugs are tested and reviewed before being allowed on the market. Pharmaceuticals are not approved for use until they are proven to cause no harm to potential patients and that they provide the benefits claimed. So too, commercializing programs in schools should not be approved until they are proven to cause no harm to the children who will be their targets; and further, that they demonstrate a clearly understood educational benefit for those children.
….. Their harm becomes apparent only when we look for what is most hard to find, because it resides in what is not there rather than what is. What is not there—with any and all types of corporate engagement in the schools—is dedication to the best interests of the children. It bears repeating and keeping at the forefront of any discussion of corporate involvement in the schools: corporations are self-interested entities in business for one purpose—to make money. Publicly traded corporations are required by law to put the interests of their shareholders first. Educating children is not their mission. ….
Study's Results Are Flawed and Inconsequential March 3 2012
To the evaluators of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, vouchers are like a vaccine. Once students are "exposed" to the voucher program - even if they subsequently leave - that "exposure" somehow accounts for any good things that happen later on.
And leave they did - a whopping 75% of them.
Here are the details: (You'll have to read the report for this but trust me this and many others are worth it.)
But evidence doesn't seem to matter. The "choice" system has become the broken status quo - choice as an end in itself - vigilantly guarded and professionally promoted by a well- funded, well-compensated and well-placed phalanx of advocates while the real needs of Milwaukee's schoolchildren remain largely unaddressed.
I found these studies while reviewing material for my own blog posts on the subject including one recent one and another from about a year ago. My views may not be peer reviewed or as well informed as Alex Molnar's but I have the liberty of not having to worry about pressure from the corporate world as Molnar does so I can point out issues like the possible cause and effect of the marketing to children on Black Friday Riots and other things. Also, these include additional sources on the subject as well from books that are readily available in many libraries.
The bottom line is that corporate influence in schools has been disastrous and it is because their primary motive is to make a profit; not just for the Charter Schools but for the advertisers as well. Students take a distant back seat.