Huckstering in the Classroom: Limits to Corporate Social Responsibility
- Cite this article as:
- Abbarno, G.J.M. Journal of Business Ethics (2001) 32: 179. doi:10.1023/A:1010627500567
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The familiar issue of corporate social responsibility takes on a new topic. Added to the list of concerns from affirmative action and environmental integrity is their growing contributions to education. At first glance, the efforts may appear to be ordinary gestures of communal good will in terms of providing computers, sponsoring book covers, and interactive materials provided by Scholastic Magazine. A closer view reveals a targeted market of student life who are vulnerable to commercials placed in these formats. Among the most effective corporate intervention is Channel One News. It offers a newsworthy show but with mandatory commercial viewing. This increasing trend of corporations intervening to assist schools that need more money and/or equipment is disingenuous.
In this essay, I present the background of this commercialization of education and demonstrate the violations against student autonomy and integrity. Although there may be utilitarian merits to some interventions, I argue that these infringe upon the moral value of personhood. Advertising in schools in its current practice is immoral on deontological grounds.
I construct a framework for a resolution between corporations and education through a Covenant. This Covenant will provide the moral duty that corporations have to the autonomy of the student-learner. The agreement will sanction some assistance to schools but not without the consent of local educational constituents and principles of the Covenant.