Della Palacios

Educational Consultant, Trainer and Teacher, SensAble Learning, LLC


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Is marketing in the United States slowing down the academic progress of our children?

Inspiring the next generation of female engineers: Debbie Sterling

I love Debbie Sterling's talk about her adventures in engineering, trouble fitting into the boys club, and her issue with the pink aisle. The beginning of her one minute advertisement for her new Goldie Blocks toys reads, "For the past 100 years, toys have inspired our boys to be thinkers, builders and inventors. Our girls deserve more."

This is the kind of marketing I can get behind.

I found the same problem to be true with marketing and literacy when I took a close introspective look years ago after learning the Montessori approach to literacy and I wrote this blog, "The Problem with Products."

Teachers and schools are receiving all kinds of heat lately in the education reform movement, but I see the problem as more deeply rooted, embedded in U.S. culture, materialism and marketing.

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    Jul 9 2013: The problem is in government involvement in education.

    With out government meddling we would have a free market solution which would have parent picking the best value in education for their children. This creates competition which is the opposite of the monopolies we have now. This would fix the problem right quick.

    Any other chatter is superfluous.
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      Jul 9 2013: I'm not disagreeing here. Can you explain more about creating competition and the opposite of the monopolies? Carry on. Thanks.
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        Jul 9 2013: Monopolies ONLY exist because of government decree. When there is a monopoly the motivation is not creating happy customers as you have no competition. Any business is motivated to satisfy customers as a private school or somewhat with a charter school.
    • Jul 9 2013: Pat, I agree with you in part, as usual.

      I think competition could improve education for those who can afford it.
      Then the poor will have the same quality of education as they now have in housing and automobiles.
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        Jul 9 2013: Yup there would have to be some public assistance.
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        Jul 9 2013: I don't have time to answer your endless parroting.

        The fact is there is no such think as a monopoly unless it is decreed by government.
        This is not my opinion just a fact.

        They are commodity to the schools as they only get paid according to attendance.

        Schools should not set guidelines at all the market sets the guidelines.

        I will give you the last word LaMar.

        Response to Bart below:

        That's right, you got it.
        • Jul 20 2013: Pat, I am using this reply to your post to explore the definition of a "monopoly". Let me borrow the definition in John's paragraph on monopoly. "A monopoly is a single owns nearly all of the market for a given type of product or an absence of competition, which often results in .... inferior results...."
          When we put the following equations into this context; group = government, and, service = K-12 student education, that fits the definition of monopoly like hand and glove, isn't it?
      • Jul 9 2013: It seems to me that YOU are the one treating the public as a commodity.

        Parents have the primary responsibility for their children, and given the opportunity most parents are extremely picky about schools.

        As Pat said in his reply to my comment, public assistance would be necessary.

        It seems to me that everyone in this conversation is ignoring the fact that privately run schools are already available. Tutoring is competitive. Public schools are not the only provider of education. Today's private schools are not a "store front for corporations to turn the students into good little consumers and robots to work in their factories." If they were, they would have very few customers.

        Just as education is not a commodity, health care should not be a commodity. But in this country, we have rejected socialized medicine, based on the issue of quality. For those who can afford it, we have the best health care that money can buy. If the issue is the quality of education, I think the comparison is fair, that education quality could be improved by making education more competitive. When you bring in other social issues, like turning kids into robots, you are ignoring that every decision involves trade-offs. Public schools must avoid issues of religion and values, so every day kids are learning that values are not important. If education was more competitive, parents could choose a school based on values as well as quality.

        For example, for a few years my wife went to Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. At Xavier, every course included the ethical aspect. It was refreshing to attend classes that recognized that right and wrong exist, and that we have to deal with these questions daily.

        Parents would assure that private schools reflect the values that they teach their children at home, instead of ignoring values altogether.

        Many would argue that public schools are already producing robots.
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        Jul 9 2013: LaMar

        Look at this video
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          Jul 9 2013: Pat, TED FRIEND is not LaMar, unless he has changed his position on some key matters.

          TED FRIEND, if you are reading this, you misread Pat in one critical way. Pat absolutely expects people to disagree with him. And he does not disrespect people for disagreeing with him.

          I hope you both give each other a chance, as I believe you are both starting with some mistaken impressions of each other.
        • W T

          • +1
          Jul 9 2013: Great video.
          I think I'm going to sit and watch the series.
          I have a hard time following a lot of the conversations that deal with the economy.

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          Jul 9 2013: Competition, applied correctly to the field, will improve education. I agree.

          Right now, there are two major corporations that could have a monopoly on education. These are the two corporations that publish the assessments made to satisfy the requirement of NCLB. These two corporations also easily sell their materials to the districts for teaching because they make the tests that satisfy the requirements of NCLB.

          This is a problem as they are dependent upon student performance for profit.

          The results of the high-stakes assessments published by these two corporations currently judge...
          student performance (retention/ graduation)
          teacher performance (50% of pay in some states)
          school and district performance (rated/graded or scored by AYP)

          And, to my disappointment, these complicated assessments holding so much weight are scored in some (many/most?) states by temporary hired help.

          There is one surprise I have been happy to see with the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS are blowing up the stranglehold these two corporations have had on the field and there is an explosion of innovation in the educational providers free market. At least for now, I see a major influx in competition in educational publishers/providers- and this is so nice to see!

          So, I remain cautious as I watch it unfold and hold my breath as the assessments are being developed.

          *I do wish the competition idea would stay in the publishing/ provider arena and not in the public school system. Shutting down and reorganizing a school, treating teachers as failed employees and children as sub-par products is a misapplication of MBA-style thinking impacting the lives unnecessarily of too many children.
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        Jul 10 2013: Della

        Metrics on anything is tricky and much subject to misinterpretation. Which is why I think the only true metric is the free market. As this is the point of exchange where both parties agree to a mutually beneficial trade one wanting the services more than the money and the other the money more than the services.

        The only way the two publishers have a monopoly is by government decree.

        The two schools with the best reputation are Montessori and the Catholic schools, it would seem to me that they have very different approaches but are both well received. The notion that the government has to provide education is also specious as plenty of people do home schooling. Not all public schools are equal either.

        Which is why I say that the only real metric is the free market. When government especially federal government get involved they skew the market and create imbalances which have huge effects. This is because politicians only care about gaining votes which has little to do with the market place.
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    Jul 15 2013: I probably don't think so, as coping with ads and product offers and such is stimulating, you start learning how to assess the products and whether one is good, another is bad, etc.
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    Jul 10 2013: marketing is money-speak for lies or truth-polishing. it's goal is to sell stuff. look at all the ridiculous "educational" cartoons (young einsteins) and products (baby-gyms) already in existence. It's all just a sales-pitch.

    What you are talking about will be better achieved by removing all marketing to children (and parents about their children).
  • Jul 9 2013: Della There are many ways to identify problems or look at problems. With the surplus of STEM graduates and the ongoing caricatures of the boys in The Big Bang or Mr. Spock maybe there is something you are not seeing. Believe me there are not jobs for all one thousand new physics Phd's or one thousand Math PhD's or one thousand chemistry PhD's. Maybe there is not a problem here. Remember when you were in first grade. Did a little girl ever say she wanted to be Madame Curie? When I was a physics undergrad, my advisor told me to marry a nurse as they will put up with us. Who can this young lady marry? Okay, I'm going to stop, but if you want some anecdotes I have some if you want them.
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      Jul 9 2013: I was quite taken by Madame Curie when I was in grade school, other than her death by radium exposure.

      I have heard some people argue that the number of higher degrees being encouraged in some STEM fields is unconscionable, given the lack of jobs for them. There are specific STEM fields with under-supply but not all STEM fields are in that position.

      There are STEM fields too in which stopping with a bachelors does not open any particular doors.
      • Jul 10 2013: That may well be true How do you know the truth? Again and again we see the handbills like in The Grapes of "wrath.Chimps are bright enough to lie Our PR pros aqre even smarter than chimps Don't trust anyone. As Sgt. Schultz said on Hogan's Heroes "Trust no one............"
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      Jul 9 2013: George, with all due respect, did you really just ask "who this young lady can marry?"
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        Jul 9 2013: I will have to ask my daughter, a graduate student in physics, whether she has been advised to marry a nurse.
      • Jul 10 2013: Della I see what you are saying, but rereading yesterday I believe that I was asking in an odd way was is a male nurse's personality like a female nurse's personality? Am I wrong? and please elucidate further. Nothing derogatory was meant It just reflects what I was told by a young lady who kept her statistics BA a se cret from most people. My being a nerd she was willing to share it with me in our pleasant conversation.
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    Jul 9 2013: Other than the fact that various components of culture are connected, I do not see marketing of consumer products as a significant factor impeding academic progress.
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      Jul 10 2013: In my research and work, I have met many older children who do not know letter sounds. Once they learn them, they read more accurately. Marketing is out to teach every preschooler Aa is for apple and it says /a/. Then we expect the child to work through all the extra information to get to the important bits to read when all the child needs is /a/ to start. We're confusing our children with too much information too soon, slowing down a nation of readers.
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        Jul 10 2013: What is the connection between marketing and Aa is for apple?

        Are you asking about the effects of advertising or specifically about merchandise that says A is for apple?