Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Marzano con’t & Corporate Sponsorship in Education

By on March 31, 2009

There’s a really interesting discussion thread going on at the Interactive Whiteboard Revolution ning.  It all began with my post recapping Robert Marzano’s position on the influence of IWB technology when he presented at the CUE conference this year.  You can read the thread here.    

One of the most interesting arguments going on is in the importance of whether or not Marzano is sponsored by Promethean (he is) and whether or not this somehow corrupts his findings (it shouldn’t).  As Peter Kent points out, “Corporate sponsorship is common practice. The MIT Media Lab (created by Papet and highly reputable) and currently including Mitch Resnik of Scratch fame has over 60 corporate sponsors including the possibility to having an employee of a sponsor work in the Media Lab. There is also the opportunity for a sponsor to work closely with a principal investigator and a graduate student in a specific area.  My point is that corporate sponsorship of educational research is both common and necessary.”

I’ve written on this topic before when I’ve said that I think there is a future in education as a privately sponsored entity.  In my earlier post, “Walmart Presents: (insert some president’s name) Middle School,” I previously wrote,

Schools already receive funding for following NCLB, an agreement that has demanded our first-borns and our unborn children.  But if there is a fine line between private donations and big company sponsorship, perhaps schools should entertain crossing it.  For years our achievement has been crippled by the unreasonable demands and fractional budgets our schools have received from the federal government. Schools are like victims of abuse: you give them a little of what they need to survive, slap them down, them give them another small amount and they are grateful.  So, compared to the limited resources we have now, maybe getting in bed with Pepsi might not be so bad.  

However, when you look at a program such as TED [Technology Entertainment and Designers], you get the impression that it’s more about the community stepping up and taking control of bettering themselves.  Perhaps we can’t be limited to taking money solely from the organizations that are approved by the by-laws of the Dept. of Ed.  Yes, it’s scary to be beholden to a private firm; yes we can predict its abuses.  After all, is not the issue of politicians being indebted to lobbyists the same thing?  But promises have been made to education and broken.  We are bizarrely beholden to follow NCLB when not enough funds have been given by the hand we keep urgently licking.? ?

The issue here, of course, is survival.

I understand that corporate sponsorship has cause for legitimate fears, but as the IWBRevolution thread mentioned, it is alive and well in institutes of higher learning.  And what’s good enough for them, may end of having to be good enough for us.  

I hope not, but I’m struggling to find answers to our funding problems. 

This ning has become a great resource for Interactive Whiteboard users.  Looking for some support and ideas that are not affiliated with a particular brand?  Check it out.

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