It’s Time to Pay the Students

imagesBy Nick McDaniels — As the NCAA Basketball Tournament came to a close, I again heard the arguments for paying players.

This argument comes and goes every year while some talking heads speak nostalgically about amateur status and others talk about the profits that are being made because of the talent of the players. I’ll admit that I used to be someone who fell in favor of the importance of the amateurism of student athletes. However, when you really stop and think about the incredible profits that are made by the TV networks, advertisers, athletic retail companies, sports venues, ticket retailers, etc…, it seems incredibly unreasonable that those person without whom all these profits would not be imaginable are not paid for their services.

Obviously, I’m simplifying the issue quite a bit, and obviously there are great arguments to be made (free education, great life experience, free exposure of talent) that the student athletes are well compensated. I would go into more detail about why I think student athletes should be paid, but that is not the topic of this post.

Apply the same concepts I have just summarized about student athletes to K-12 students. Every year thousands of students sit for standardized tests, spend hours prepping for them, and waste countless hours of real learning time in the pursuit of higher scores. Naturally, I think students should have the option at least to not take the tests. Since this is not an option for most students, it means the tests are compulsory. Pearson and McGraw-Hill (and a few other conglomerates, but those two are convenient and deserving scapegoats) are behind the tests, and the textbooks, and the curriculum, and the policy decisions that make the whole system go. They profit incredibly because of this. However, without the students taking the tests, their profits would be slashed.

Therefore, if these corporate education giants profit hugely from standardized testing, which requires kids to take the tests, and kids are forced to take the tests, doesn’t it stand to reason that the kids should get paid? They provide the labor, without which the raw materials (blank tests and the text books and curriculum that goes with them) never turn into products (completed tests to be scored, returned, and analyzed so that more products from these same companies can be purchased to improve results. Put simply: kids are forced to work for free by the government for the profit of a few corporations.

In 1863 we tried to eliminate this economic relationship from the American economy, only to allow creative corporations and the politicians who “work” for them, to force students into working in factories disguised as schools. What do the students get from all of this testing? Little. What should they get? Wages.

There are a few solutions to ending the servitude of students. 1) Stop testing, or 2) Allow students to opt out of testing, or 3) Force all tests to be made by the state or district, not contracted out to for-profit corporations, or 4) Force the companies profiting off of the public dollar and the labor of students to pay the workers.

Which solution is best? Maybe we’ll send out a survey to students, parents, and teachers. Get your number two pencils ready.

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