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McDonaldization of Education

When teachers talk of the “McDonaldization of education,” the term is commonly employed in a metaphorical way, to describe a process that, if it were taken to its logical conclusion, would transform schools into the instructional equivalent of fast food outlets. Of particular concern is the de-skilling of educators into deliverers of canned programs, the unhealthy standardization of curriculum and pedagogy and the commercialization of public schools.

Now it appears that the term has a literal, as well as a metaphorical, application. The New York Times reports that the Seminole County public school system is sending home report cards in packages covered with Mc Donalds’ advertisements, pictures of Ronald McDonald and photographs of ‘happy meals.’ The district even provides a ‘happy meal’ to fifth graders with good grades.

“I thought this was appalling,” Cathy Pagan, mother of a Seminole County fourth grader, told the Times. “You get a reward for good grades by eating — and eating fast food.” Today’s epidemic of childhood obesity ought to call a program like this into question, Pagan added.

Pagan’s concerns about childhood obesity and health don’t weigh heavy on the mind of Whitney Tilson, one of the Wall Street benefactors of the Democrats for Education Reform [at Edwize, we know them as the People’s Democratic Republicans for Education Reform]. The monthly investment magazine, Kiplingers, reports that Tilson is positively bullish on the fast food chain, and that his hedge fund has invested heavily in McDonalds’ stock. Since Tilson writes a blog where he regularly casts summary judgment that various figures in the world of education — especially teacher unionists — don’t really care about what happens to kids, it is interesting to see how he puts his money behind his mouth.