I was told once that “money makes the world go round, so don’t be square”. At first I thought that this person was a fool, but upon further review and outside of their acknowledgement I began to agree. As we all know the major money comes from business and enterprise. They run the world and everything revolves around them and their successes and failures, so why would anyone think that business wouldn’t have any effect on our public schools? The answer is, business culture has a dramatic influence on our schools and how they operate. They play a critical role in many different aspects of our schools that we might not even realize.
When our students are in their classrooms, working on a project and researching a topic they are utilizing multiple different informational sources. One of which is certainly going to be a book, but where did that book come from and how did the school come to get it. Chances are it wasn’t free and that someone had to pay for it. Even though we are in a huge technological upswing, books still play a huge role in our schools. The schools purchase the books from manufacturers who are making a massive profit. Schools typically purchase based on what’s called a low bid cost. This means that companies put forward an offer to the schools for their books, and schools will vote on the different options typically choosing the lowest bid that still meets their requirements for the books they want.
While this is a process that has been going on for many years, some places are looking to make a change in this process in an effort to reduce costs to already suffering budgets. One option that schools in California are looking at is moving away from paper copies and moving to eBooks, or electronic books. These books will be downloaded to either computers or to tablets that students will have access to, and will be able get the same information. This would reduce costs significantly, and would still allow students access to the information from the textbooks. While some see the financial gains as a major positive, others are purists and believe that taking physical books away from students only further pushes our society towards the technological stronghold.
While books are one aspect of business in schools, what companies want more than money from the districts is the opportunity to advertise in their schools. The money earned from advertising far exceeds the money from products sold to the district. Companies know that advertising and influencing adolescents would net them the greatest gains. The advertising is seen by some as an easy way to bring in massive amounts of income to the districts with no effort on their behalf. However the downside to this seen by some is that we are selling out our students to earn a few dollars. We would be allowing companies to brandish their logos and catchphrases around our schools further allowing them to lay influence over our impressionable students. While I feel that this is an easy way to earn money to support other portions of our schools, it’s almost like selling your soul to the devil.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think that we should eradicate all corporate influence from schools, I think that it needs to be done so in a responsible manner. I think that corporate influence has the opportunity to benefit both parties, but great care needs to be taken so that we can ensure that our students are not being sold out for a few extra dollars in the budgets. When introducing corporate influence into our schools, it can be done by less intrusive ways, such as through technology. Allowing companies that want their products in the schools to be used through grants and donations. Such as computers and tablets from apple, digital cameras from Nikon and so on. Companies are willing to gift their products to schools, but the schools are the ones who need to advocate for these grants/gifts. This is a responsible and meaningful way of introducing the business world into our school systems.