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Workfare comes to the classroom

Red Pepper report about the increasingly convenient marriage of state education and corporations;

Studio schools sound like a wonderful deal for the companies and can be politically spun into gold. Its not progress though. Words cannot describe my cynicism.[/url]

2 blog comments below

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. When I first read it, it took me a long while to realize this was talking about a program in Great Britain, not the United States.

I don't see an inherent problem with this type of program, but I believe standards need to be established and the programs carefully monitored. I have no problem with "four hours of free work per week" for the under-16 students; it is potentially a conflict of their best interest but hardly excessive if the program has benefits for them. For the over-16 students the work is paid at minimum wage, so it appears both fair to them and consistent with what they might receive for similar work if they quit school and got a full-time job instead. In the US there are many cases where a lower "training wage" can be legally paid, and it is sometimes appropriate for vocational training programs. I don't know whether training wages are ever used in secondary education in the US though.

I doubt if the employers are accountable to describe the trade-offs for the students, and to meet defined educational goals and compete for being best for the student. I hope the public demands to see the justification for keeping each or any of these schools open. On the other hand if the students get some sort of an education, get training in jobs with potential to advance in pay consistent with their capacity to learn new skills, and would otherwise have been likely to drop out and flip burgers or something similar at minimum wage, the program could be a real boon for them.

I would be interested in comparing these schools with some of the more vocationally-oriented alternative schools in the US. It appears these are unique in the degree to which they are set up by corporations to directly serve their needs, and perhaps unique in the lack of oversight by the school districts.
SonLight on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:09 am
Thanks for your very positive input.

I agree with you for the best part, my only immediate contention being that I don't believe we should allow corporate run schools to integrate work into their days, especially for free. I fear those jobs would be poor experience, so yes guidance is important. I think if you send a young person to work it should be for a living, or at least minimum wage, certainly not for vocational experience under the pretense of the biggest businesses. The incentive to stay in education is demeaned if entire classes are gaining the same work experience.
It would be interesting to compare with American examples as they surely must have some similar corporate owned schools already.
vicar013 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:26 pm

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