Tag Archives: Beelzebub

Privatization and Commercialization of America’s schools; it’s a damn good thing Michael J. Connelly is not a Beelzebub

15 Feb

It must have been a future CEO who first looked at the public education system and thought, “There’s a way to make money here, I can feel it…”

The privatization and commercialization of education to create a profit generating system is ludicrous. It is now a fact that children in public schools are being targeted while in school by marketing companies to increase corporate and school revenue. In addition, “both educators and corporate managers are attending conferences to learn how to increase revenue from in-school marketing for their schools and companies” (Spring 211). Not only are children being targeted for physical advertisements, but they are also being persuaded to offer personal information so advertising companies can tailor their product to individual students. It is unclear if students are being guided by educators; however, it is fact that “students in classrooms are being offered incentives to enter personal data – names, addresses, information on personal habits – which will then be sold to advertisers” (Spring 211). This is a huge problem; it is a form of exploitation of our youth; for advertising companies and most especially school systems to target youth while they are attending a mandatory public institution leaves the students no choice as to the solicitations to which they are exposed. We are bombarding our youth with image and money; this is what we are teaching them, and we are selling them short.

The privatization of schools to create for profit systems is another large scale problem. The union report perhaps says it best: “Education is not simply another economic good or service. The learning of a nation’s children is of concern to the entire nation. And while business can and should play a role in education, communities and the school boards that represent them must retain control over the future of America’s public schools “ (Spring 204). Education cannot be reduced to a consumer good; this takes the focus off the education of the students and places money at the heart of the matter. When profit is the primary concern, consumers are bound to lose. If we consider the idea of a school system as a business, education as the output (product), money the mover, and student the consumers, just as corporations take shortcuts in production and regulation, so would the students find their education replete with cheap substitutions and gaping holes. When it comes to corporate style business, what is less expensive wins, and it is at this cost that the consumer often loses.

On the other side of the debate, however, we have the words of Michael  J. Connelly, chief executive officer of Mosaica Education (a major for-profit education company): “There are people who don’t believe there is role for private business in public education. And for those people, we are going to get the word out that we are not Beelzebubs. This is not a satanic plot to destroy public education” (Spring 203). This is very strong speech for one who feels he is not guilty of anything but enterprise. To use the biblical words of “Beelzebub” and “satanic” creates a strong emotion in the reader, and leaves an immediate impression. His speech is too caustic and focused on the defense of Mosaica to convince the reader that the company places education at the forefront of their mission. It would seem, almost, that Mr. Connelly’s largest concern is defending the profit made with private education, and not proving how private education can benefit students and community.

The final issue I’d like to touch upon involves private education companies and the No Child Left Behind Act. In accordance with NCLB, failing schools must be completely restructured. Any state can choose to establish a working relationship with a for profit private education company to provide education services under NCLB. This essentially means “that profits earned (by private companies)… will come from the federal government” (Spring 206). In 1992, the states of Massachusetts and Colorado took a step further and passed “’charter school’ laws that permit states and school systems to award contracts to… private contractors” (Spring 206). This is a huge problem. Whether or not the average taxpayer agrees with for profit charter schooling, our tax dollars will be going to private education companies’ bottom lines. This means that private companies are essentially allowed to make a profit off government money, our tax dollars.

The privatization and commercialization of public schools is a topic to keep at the peak of the education debate. The quality of the education of our future generations depends upon good decisions being made at the political level. It’s a damn good thing Michael J. Connelly is no Beelzebub, or America might have something to worry about.

Source: American Education, Joel Spring, Thirteenth Ed.

More Information on Mosaica: