Corporate Involvement in Public Education

I read an interesting article in Fast Company, a business magazine. It discussed corporate involvement in public schools. It featured a new high school in West Philadelphia, Philadelphia’s School of the Future. Click here to read the complete article.

This is an interesting and certainly a controversial concept. Corporations argue that students don’t have the skills they need to work in today’s businesses. However, public education should never be a production line for just job training. It is important that students learn critical thinking, the skills necessary to deal with the many unknown situations that will be part of their lives, and an appreciation of the arts, literature, civics, some philosophy, and the other subjects that many don’t think are important.

Business and technical skills are also important. There is more to word processing than just entering text, more to spreadsheets than just adding columns of text, and so on. Students definitely need technical skills to compete and some basic business skills are also important.

Is it a good idea to let Microsoft into the public education system? The skills they teach are important. However, will these students transfer their Microsoft Office skills to the free, open source OpenOffice, or will they become slaves to Microsoft technology. My experience in the technical world is that many people become accustomed to the software that they learned and do not switch to other products.

Click here to view a list of companies that provide resources to public schools.

Corporations in public schools are an interesting concept that is not going to fade. Many believe that this is one way to improve public education. What are your thoughts?

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About acohen843

I am a writer and ESL teacher who enjoys the challenge of starting businesses. Currently, I am a JuicePlus distributor (www.acohentakesjuiceplus.com) who is using this business opportunity as the foundation of a social entrepreneurship project.
This entry was posted in education, public schools, teaching, technology. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Corporate Involvement in Public Education

  1. TeacherJay says:

    You’re right – this is a complicated issue. On one hand, corporate sponsorship of education initiatives brings a lot of money into schools and will likely produce a better workforce. But, I am still not comfortable with students being used in that way. Corporations moving into schools has just as much to do with access to fertile minds to unleash advertising upon as it does with workplace training. Furthermore, it used to be that companies would take in an employee because the person had a good well-rounded education and would work hard – they could train the person to do the job. Now, if you take a look at the posting on Monster or HotJobs it seems that everybody wants a person who has already been doing that same job – with that company!

    I do not look forward to a day when schools are run like businesses and in fact I posted an entry on that last month – http://teacherjay.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/paying-for-an-education/

  2. acohen843 says:

    TeacherJay,

    I agree with your comments 100%. I teach evenings and work in technology during the day. I’ve applied for many job where if your resume didn’t fit the job description 100%, you wouldn’t get an interview.

    During the high tech bubble I didn’t work full time for 3 years. During that time, I earned my TEFL certification to teach English as a Second Language. As a tech writer, I figured when the industry rebounded, my English teaching experience would move me to the top of the list.

    The exact opposite happened. They figured since I was teaching, I was technologically obsolete. It didn’t matter that I used technology in class in ways far more advanced than I would have if I were just tech writing. Success came after adapted my cover letter to state that my ESL teaching experience gave me the skills to improve communication is multi-cultural business environments.

    It’s ironic. In today’s business world I think you really need to be either well-rounded or have the desire to learn skills out of your “circle.” For example, I now work for a small technology startup with limited funds. I began as a tech writer, did some marketing, took over the basic bookkeeping, and help out in other areas where necessary. I’m certainly not bragging, but if I just did tech writing, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow with the company.

    Schools need to turn out well-rounded, educated students that have the skills to adapt in a diversified world.

  3. Robbie Little says:

    I found this article somewhat disheartening. Corporations should seriously re-examine the idea that education is equivalent to vocational training. Prior to World War 1 education in America consisted of passing down the existing culture from one generation to the next. This in turn produced socially responsible citizens who were proficient at reading, writing, and critical thinking. Most of the job training of employees was then performed by companies in the form of apprenticeships. Even doctors and lawyers at the time weren’t required to hold expensive degrees but instead were well trained by mentors. From a business perspective making the government and the individual responsible for vocational training is certainly more cost efficient. However, the consequences to the community are disastrous. Large corporations should pick up the tab on vocational training since they benefit from it the most and leave “education” to those who do it best.

  4. acohen843 says:

    Robbie,

    I agree. It seems the “thing” to do is to make everything like business. Government should be like business and now education should be like business. Its’s ironic because business is not doing that well these days.

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