Higher Education and the Corporation.


So far this semester we have discussed how companies such as Nike, Apple and Enron have been able to define public opinion through hiring and manipulating their own regulators. What were to happen if these companies became the regulators? This is what Pearson is attempting to do.

Pearson, Inc. has devised a standardized test to determine whether college students perusing a degree in Education are prepared to start their mandatory semester of student teaching. This means the for-profit textbook publisher is attempting to become the regulator of a public domain, which is elementary and secondary public education.

What would happen if Ford were the group to issue driver’s licenses?  Would it be ethical for a large corporation to approve lawyers? How would society change if corporations were in charge of approving public servants?

In issuing the test, the textbook company can define what public school teachers are required to know. This could seriously alter the face of public education, as teachers later choose which textbooks are used in their classrooms.

In the case of Barbara Madeloni, of the University of Massachusetts’ School of Education, a job was lost. Ms. Madeloni questioned the mandatory field test of the Teachers Performance Assessment and was fired from her position. It is not clear whether UMass stood to profit from issuing the test on Pearson’s behalf, but what is clear is that the test is gaining popularity due to a marketing campaign from Pearson.

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4 responses to “Higher Education and the Corporation.

  1. This topic is very interesting to me and poses a question I think could apply to many of the topics we discuss in class. Should companies be allowed to make regulations that directly affect the consumption of their products/services? Like the Arthur Andersen in the Enron case, companies here face a major ethical dilemma because of a direct conflict of interest. I think it would be interesting to look at what laws are currently in place or being discussed that deal with this type of predicament as it doesn’t seem to be something that garners much media or sociopolitical attention.

  2. This is definitely a very touchy subject, but definitely one that should be brought to light and I’m glad you did! There has always been a debate about whether or not the government should get involved with the market or private corporations. Well, now it’s reversed! Should private firms get involved with public affairs? I personally believe that there is definitely a fine line for both situations. I also believe though that Pearson is crossing this line. When a private company takes it upon themselves to be the “experts” on something that is considered to be a public right to all citizens, I think they’ve gone too far. If something is administered by the government, then I think it should be evaluated and controlled by the government…especially when it’s a basic right for all citizens if they meet the qualifications to get a license.

  3. I find this post very interesting! How is ok that companies and corporations are the ones who set the standards of professions? They may write the books, but they should not dictate the rules of teaching. If Pearson controlled the tests, then the teacher would be a “middleman” between Pearson and the students. Shouldn’t it be the teachers who have the power to control the lesson plans and choose which books they want to teach from?

    I feel schools are constantly in contracts to “get deals” on textbooks, that they are no longer concerned with quality of the material. This is very similar to the fact that the textbok company’s are controlling much more than necessary. The schools should set the standards of the teachers they hire. The teachers should have control over what textbooks they choose to teach from. These should not be controlled by the textbook company!

  4. I really like this post and think it is a great topic to discuss for this class. It is definitely scary to think just how much power textbook manufacturers have on the US population, especially social science and history textbooks. My textbooks and my teachers have certainly influenced my view on politics and social policy as much as my parents and environment, so it is concerning to hear how much bargaining power and influence they have over the in-class teachings as well.
    Additionally, in response to your question “How would society change if corporations were in charge of approving public servants?”, I’d say we definitely already have that problem happening. Golfing and befriending politicians was discussed as an interesting factor in the Enron case to represent their power, but it is not uncommon.

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