Thursday, July 16, 2015

What is neoliberalism? Who is Pearson? Where is TFA?

Book group member Ken Derstine condenses the first four chapters of Mapping Corporate Education Reform for us below.  We are looking forward to applying some of the research methods used in the book and developing a "social network analysis" of the neoliberal corporate reform forces shaping public education in Philadelphia today.

Check out editor Wayne Au's book talk:
By Ken Derstine

Chapter 1: 
Introduction: Neoliberalism, Social Networks, and the New Governance of Education

We began with a discussion of “neoliberalism”. We learned that this is not a new term, but has a history going back decades. In the last fifteen years it has increasingly become the theoretical basis of corporate and financial interests that want to privatize public education for private profit. This book maps with complex graphic organizers the corporate social networks and how they are increasingly changing education to meet the interests of the 1% rather than society as a whole.

Chapter 2: 
mEducation As A Site of Network Governance
This chapter looked at the Ed tech market uses graphic organizers to show how the corporate ed social networks have become global. It was pointed out how the networks are constantly evolving and adapted to changing social and economic circumstances with the bottom line being maximization of corporate, banking and hedge fund profits.

Chapter 3: 
Network Restructuring of Global Edu-Business: The Case of Pearson’s Efficacy Framework
We discussed this chapter’s focus on Pearson as the leader in promoting the marketing of testing. Pearson is a seventy-year-old British textbook company that changed its business strategy in the last fifteen years to be a leader in developing and promoting standardized tests. Sir Michael Barber is Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor. He comes from an education background and the company hopes his education background will help promote Pearson as a leader in corporate education reform. Barber is also partner at McKinsey & Company where he is head of it global education practice. It should be noted that Hite’s outgoing Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn came from McKinsey and is returning after leaving Philadelphia. He coauthored a book with Michael Barber in 2010.

Chapter 4: 
Mapping the Education Entrepreneurial Network: Teach for America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship
We discussed the origins of Teach for America and how it has evolved into an organization that replaces full time and veteran teachers with temporary teachers. Its founder, Wendy Kopp, began it as her undergraduate thesis in 1989. Corporate reformers such as Eli Broad heavily financed the startup of TFA. We discussed the books chronicle of the many TFA alumni, such as Cami Anderson, Michelle Rhee, Kevin Huffman, John White, who have become leaders in corporate education reform. We concluded with a discussion of how venture philanthropists have been the center of the charter school movement and promoted neoliberal theories about the deregulation and privatization of education which has become a full-scale assault on public education. 

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