It might seem that education in the US – where we have had an extensive public education system for many decades – would be one area untouched by the effects of big money. Unfortunately, it is easy to prove otherwise. The insidious corruption flowing from the power of money can be seen both directly and indirectly in our public school systems from the youngest preschoolers all the way to university level.
Corruption sometimes takes the form of state education officials working hand-in-glove with companies that produce school materials (such as textbooks, online courses, and standardized tests) and making secret decisions about these materials based on money and perks received by officials rather than open bidding. Although standardized testing has been around since the early 20th century, the concept of holding schools accountable based on their students’ test scores began in the 1980s and became a federal issue when George W. Bush started the “No Child Left Behind” program. On the surface, accountability based on testing seems reasonable. It is easy, though, for leaders to turn this process to their own benefit if they find ways to ensure their materials are chosen by each state.
The Tangled Web: Nonprofits, Corporations, and Public Officials