About tfeedcover2.jpghis Wiki

feed.jpgThe name for our wiki, SchoolTM, comes from M.T. Anderson's 2004 dystopian novel Feed where: "Nameless, faceless corporations own the government, operate the schools, control the media, and even nature. Public schools are now known as SchoolTM, and they exist not to help turn future citizens into critical thinkers with a love of learning, but instead, to make them better shoppers who can manipulate their feeds to decorate their rooms, make informed consumer decisions, or even facts such as “which battle of the Civil War George Washington fought in” (47), and this corporate sponsorship of SchoolTM is an opportunity to disseminate propaganda: “that way we know that the big corps are made up of human beings and not just jerks out for money, because taking care of our children, [the corporations] care about America’s future” (110). (June Pullium.)

Wiki Resources

  • Did You Know? - Test your knowledge of the "shadow elite" and other players in SchoolTM What you don't know could hurt your students...
  • Research and Advocacy - What does research about effective education really tell us? How can we advocate for real reform to SchoolTM?
  • Curriculum and Technology - What resources are available for teachers, and students, as we create our own opportunities for learning?
  • Authentic Teaching and Learning - As educators, what are the larger lessons we hope to teach our students outside of SchoolTM?

Fundamental Facts

  • Education in America is a large enterprise directly involving 27% of the total population as students and teachers and funding of more than $1 trillion. In 2010 $650 billion for K12 & $461 billion for post-secondary (Piccano & Spring, 2012).
  • Most education "reforms" in the United States over the past two decades have been driven by big business or corporate-government partnerships, not educators. The next wave of corporate education reforms, including the Common Core standards (which were not "state-led"), will increase corporate influence on K-12 schools and university teacher education.
  • While for-profit corporations have a long history of involvement in education, including in the building of schools and provision of textbooks, recent national and state legislation including No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, charter schools, vouchers, and online school initiatives have explicitly and dramatically opened doors for for-profit corporate involvement in education.
  • New technologies and the Internet -- resources created and controlled by large technology and communication corporations -- have created new opportunities for learning, and new opportunities for profit-making in education.
  • For-profit educational and technology corporations have targeted public schools and universities as an important new market. (Rupert Murdoch has said of the American education sector that it is "$500 billion market that is largely untapped.")
  • Enormous for-profit corporations have bought up and conglomerated textbook companies, educational testing systems, online curricular and learning resources, credit recovery programs, tutoring and home support resources, and teacher professional development programs.
  • Education reform and legislation is increasing the result of corporate lobbying of state and national legislatures and there is a revolving door for administrators and educational leaders between industry, educational foundations and think tanks, and departments of education at state and national levels. Leaders of departments of education often have histories as corporate executives, not as teachers.
  • State and national austerity is causing reductions in the teaching force, increasing class size, and fostering efforts to replace face-to-face teaching with online learning. These reforms are part of an ideological program of "neoliberalism" that reduces educational understanding to market-place analysis.
  • State and national standardization of curriculum, such as the Common Core State Standards, and standardized testing facilitates mass marketing of educational products.

Critical Questions

  • Are children and schools fundamentally markets from which to derive profits?
  • How are for-profit corporations influencing curriculum and instruction and reducing or limiting the choices and thought of students and teachers?
  • How are these corporations -- and their "think tanks" and foundations -- driving "school reform" in ways that will increase their own profits at the expense of teacher decision making and diverse resources for students and teachers?
  • What are the links between educational technology corporations and efforts to place large numbers of students into online courses?
  • Who are the key players in education, business, and the government who are supporting these changes?
  • How can teachers educate themselves about these developments?
  • Who is most likely to receive online instruction?
  • How do we resist corporate take over of education and support personally meaningful learning and the preparation of critical thinking citizens?

NCTE 2012 Session

On 11-17-12 a lively and interactive conference session explored SchoolTM topic. Session Description: English teachers encounter commercial textbooks, curriculum packages, testing programs, and technologies that often limit their decision-making and student participation. Presenters will describe the benefits and constraints of for-profit educational materials, identifying ways to save money, address the learning needs of students, foster greater classroom freedom, and still reach high standards for learning. Session Participants:
  • Jory Brass, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • Robert Rozema, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
  • Allen Webb, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • Linda Christensen, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Portland, OR

Our thanks to Todd Finley, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, for sharing this insightful mini-documentary