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NEPC’s February Education Interview of the Month Features Discussion of Teachers as Brand Ambassadors

In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, Lewis and Clark College Emeritus Professor of Education Gregory A. Smith speaks with Christopher Saldaña, Doctoral Student Researcher at the National Education Policy Center. They discuss the emergence of Brand Ambassador programs, a new phenomenon in the marketing of educational resources to schools.

Along with his co-authors, Kevin Welner, Susan Malcolm, and Eleanore Tisch, Saldaña explores this recent trend in depth in the NEPC policy brief, Examining the New Phenomena of Teachers as Brand Ambassadors. In this podcast, Greg and Chris discuss the origins of teacher brand ambassador programs and related ethical and legal concerns.

Saldaña also situates the teacher brand ambassador phenomenon within past forms of advertising and research on schoolhouse commercialism to argue that teacher brand ambassador programs pose threats to the well being of teachers and students. For example, serious conflicts of interest can arise for these teachers, as happened just last month in Irvington, New York.

Among Saldaña’s recommendations is a call for school-district policymakers to revisit conflict of interest policies and codes of ethics. He also suggests that this process of rethinking conflict of interest policies should be inclusive of key community stakeholders such as teachers and parents. Through this process, teachers should receive clear guidance on the ethical issues to consider before accepting the role of a brand ambassador.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

Coming Next Month

In March, Greg will be speaking with Mark Warren, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, and Jonathan Stith, contributors to the book Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out, about the educational justice movement.

Stay tuned in to NEPC for smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

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