Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction

Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction
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  G Global Education Policy,Innovation, and SocialReproduction D. Brent Edwards Jr. 1 and Mauro C. Moschetti 21 DepartmentofEducationalFoundations,Collegeof Education, University of Hawaii at M ā  noa,M ā  noa, HI, USA 2 Department of Pedagogy, University of Girona,Girona, Spain Introduction Global education policy (GEP) refers to thesimilar education reforms and the common set of education policy principles that are being appliedin many parts of the world, in locations that areincredibly diverse both culturally and in termsof economic development. In recent decades,these policies have included, generically, schoolcompetition-oriented policies, standardization,focus on  “ core subjects ”  (i.e., math, reading, andscience), management techniques pertaining tothe private corporate world, and test-basedaccountability regimes. When it comes to theuse of the term  “ global, ”  it should be noted that it is a metaphor for the widely discussed andimplemented nature of the education reforms towhich the GEP label is applied. There is no clear threshold nor objective criteria for determiningthe point at which a reform trend becomes a GEP.In light of the increasingly common use of theGEP concept, this entry addresses the ways that GEP connects with innovation and social repro-duction. That is, in what follows, we discuss howGEPs, as a form of innovation, can contribute tothe reproduction of inequality at multiple levelsfrom the local to the global. The following sec-tions address,  fi rst, the emergence of GEPs in the post-World War II context and, second, the vari-ous forms that GEPs have tended to take, withthese forms being seen as innovations in edu-cation policy that contribute to changing thecommon sense around education reform in thecontext of globalization. History and Growth of Global EducationPolicies Since at least the nineteenth century, researchersand policymakers have studied and borrowedreforms from contexts outside their own.However, it was only in 1945, in the post-WorldWar II context, when governments wereconcerned with ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity by creating multilateral institutionsthat the  fi rst international intergovernmental org-anization with an education mandate came into being, namely, the UNESCO, or the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organi-zation.AsMundyetal.(2016)describe,theestab-lishment of the UNESCO, together withthe development of the Universal Declaration of  © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019M. A. Peters, R. Heraud (eds.),  Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation ,  Human Rights in 1948, placed education on the postwar agenda of multilateralism, which wasfocused on ensuring shared principles and valuesacross countries:  “ For the  fi rst time, the needfor global standards and cross-national problemsolving in education was recognized as an appro- priate and important domain for multilateralism ” (Mundy et al. 2016, p. 4).Insubsequentdecades,aseducationbecameanissue of concern for more and more internationalorganizations, these organizations started to rep-resent a new aspect of international relations.However, more than entities in and throughwhich the interests of states were settled, thework of international organizations and their interaction with each other and with national andeven subnational actors increasingly constituted aspace  –  or  fi eld  –  ofactivityinitsownright.Inthis fi eld of activity, which has recently come to beknown as the  “ global education policy  fi eld, ” many organizations are either semi-independent or completely independent of the interests of states, with the implication being that this  fi eld isalso characterized by the priorities, preferences,and autonomy of numerous kinds of actors differ-ent from states (Edwards 2018).The proliferation of actors that would makeup the global education policy  fi eld acceleratedin the 1960s with the breakdown of colonialismand continued after this time with the emergenceof new states as well as new organizations that would take an interest in their education sys-tems (Dale 1999). The collaboration of this timeled to what could be considered as the  fi rst waveof GEPs  –   that is, those GEPs through whicheducation systems around the world adopted,more or less voluntarily, reforms modeled on theorganization of education systems in Western andadvanced capitalist countries. In the 1960s and1970s, multilateral institutions such as theUNESCO and the World Bank were working tospread their visions and values around education;at the same time,  “ developing ”  countries werelooking to create national education systems that were seen as one hallmark of modernity anddevelopment. It was thanks to the overlap of these trends that education systems convergedon common policies and practices during thistime. Examples include age-based grade-levelorganization, subject-/discipline-based curricu-lum structure, classroom design, development of central bureaucracies that coordinate educationacross a national territory, governmental teacher training, and certi fi cation institutions, amongother organizational and pedagogical policies.Since the1980s,the proliferation of new actorswho contribute to GEP trends can be divided intoat least three broad categories. The  fi rst is multi-lateral institutions such as the United Nationsorganizations and regional international develop-ment banks. The second is national aid agencies,that is, governmental bodies that provide devel-opment assistance to low-income countries, often,though not always, along lines of national self-interest and formerly colonial relationships. Thethird group can be labeled  “ international civilsociety ”  and includes nongovernmental organiza-tions (NGOs), such as philanthropic organiza-tions, think tanks, research organizations, and program implementing organizations, in additionto others whorepresent crosscuttinginterests suchas Save the Children, Teach for All, the GlobalCampaign for Education, and the Education Inter-national (the global federation of teachers ’ unions), to name a few. Of course, as there areuneven power relationships across organizationscompeting for in fl uence and given that the GEP fi eld is situated within larger geopolitical dyn-amics, the architecture of GEP can be depictedas a complex network of in fl uence, organizations, policy ideas and paradigms, and  fi nancialarrangements.In the 1990s, the term  “ global governance ” was popularized in order to characterize thedynamics described above wherein multiple orga-nizations compete and collaborate across levelsto in fl uence education policy. Not surprisingly,the emergence of this term coincided with theend of the Cold War and came on the heels of anew wave ofeconomicglobalization that beganinthe 1970s. The point here is to note that whenit comes to the global governance of education,in the context of a world capitalist system, therehave been new pressures put on states by thecombination of economic liberalization,  fi nancialderegulation, periodic recessions, and the 2 Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction  increasing involvement of non-state and for-pro fi t actors in education reform processes, together with the prevalence of the overlapping logics of neoliberalism and new public management that  permeate reform processes. More speci fi cally,these economic and ideational factors create mul-tiple challenges for states. For example, economicliberalizationpressuresstatestocompeteeconom-ically to attract global capital, which entails afocus on making education systems competitive; fi nancial deregulation often makes it more dif  fi -cult to collect tax revenue (and thus to fund edu-cation systems); periodic recessions (and/or economic reforms imposed by development  banks) force policymakers to do more with less;and the involvement of corporate and non-stateactors in policymaking processes shifts the com-mon sense around reform such that policies basedon ef  fi ciency, competition, and accountability(and informed by considerations of pro fi tability)are seen as being the most appropriate and desir-able for improving the quality of educa-tion (Lingard and Ozga 2007). As will bediscussed below, these contextual factors in fl u-ence the second (i.e., current) wave of GEPs. Global Education Policies, Innovation,and Social Reproduction The shift in thinking described just above can becharacterized as a shift that tends to focus on thegovernance (or management) of education sys-tems according to measurable outcomes, business principles, and economic logic. This contrastswith the traditional emphasis on improving state provision of education, wherein the government focused on inputs, processes, infrastructure, andthe expansion or improvement of the system toreach all students and their needs. Thus, when it comes to policy change since the 1980s  –   the timewhen the above contextual constraints began toemerge  –   it can be said that reforms that accordwith, or that follow from, this context represent key forms of innovation, in that they represent a break from the logic that guided education reformin earlier periods, as described further above.Looking at trends in worldwide perspectiveduring this time, Sahlberg (2016) notes that thereare  fi ve key innovations that stand out. In that these innovations have been promoted andadapted across many country contexts, they arealso GEPs.The fi rst global education trend is the introduc-tion of policies geared towards competition.Examples include voucher programs (where stu-dents are given a stipend to coveror offsetthecost of attending a private school and families aregranted freedom to choose among the available public and private options), charter schools(where publicly owned schools are run by non-state, both for-pro fi t or non-pro fi t actors whilereceiving public funding on a per capita basis),and low-fee private schools (where states some-how allow  –   or indirectly drive  –   the proliferationofprivateschoolscreatedbyindividualsorgroupsof individuals aiming at   fi nancial pro fi t targetinglow-income populations).The means for judgingthe effectiveness of these reforms is most fre-quently based on standardized test scores, withthe further implication being that schools are lesslikely to collaborate but rather compete for enroll-ment. Rather than improving quality and equity,evidence shows that the competitive environ-ments that these policies aim at generating not only foster socioeconomic segregation dynamics(e.g., by providing incentives for schools torecruit certain types of students), but also discrim-inate against those less academically skilled or with special educational needs. The loss of posi-tive peer effect resulting from greater school dis-crimination and the segregation dynamicscontributes to an increasing achievement gap between schools and thus fuels social reproduc-tion and increasing educational inequalities.The second GEP innovation is re fl ected inefforts at standardization. This began with a shift away from teacher autonomy and towardsstandardized curricula and assessment in the1990s. In the words of Sahlberg (2016), although “ these reforms initially aimed to have a stronger emphasis on learning outcomes and school per-formance instead of content and structures of schooling, ”  in practice it has become  “ a generallyunquestioned belief among policy-makers andeducation reformers that the presence of clear  Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction 3  and suf  fi ciently high performance standards for schools, teachers, and students is a preconditionto improved quality of teaching and better overall performance of schools ”  (p. 134). Standardization policies seem to have spread, however, unawareof long-known social reproduction dynamics and perverse mechanisms that, in fact, these policies propel. To be sure, schools with more resourcesand with students who have more economic, cul-tural, and social capital are already more likely to perform better in standardized tests. In addition, punitive measures often embedded in policies for standardized assessment (i.e., threat of withhold-ing resources from schools, closing schools, statetakeover, or performance-based teacher   fi rings)do not contribute to improving teaching practicesin the schools in question, as the lack of resourcesand stability arguably militates against the provi-sion of a quality education. Finally, unwantedeffects of standardization at the teaching practicelevel, such as teaching to the test, scripting andaligning curricula with standardized tests, and thereduction or elimination of recess time and/or other untested subjects, also tend to have a morenegative impact on schools serving low-SES or marginalized populations where, in light of thefamilies ’  limited cultural and educational capital,schools play a key role in guaranteeing access toculture in a broad sense.The third GEP trend has to do with anincreased emphasis on literacy, numeracy, andscience in curricula, signaled as  “ core subjects ” in numerous national and international policydocuments. The explosive proliferation of inter-nationallarge-scaleassessments(ILSAs)sincethe1990s has played a major role in creating suchhierarchization of knowledge  fi elds in schoolcurriculum. The global diffusion of ILSAs and,especially, their power in terms of appealing to policymakers by creating simple, straightforwardscorecards for different national educational sys-tems have raised concerns around the need toalign national curricula to the contents includedin such assessments. While various ILSAs have been in place since the 1990s, the most in fl uentialis PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). PISA ’ s policy in fl uence has becomesuch that scores in the areas of   “ reading,mathematics, and science ” –   PISA ’ s three areasof assessment   – “ have now become the maindeterminants of perceived success or failure of  pupils, teachers, and schools in many educationsystems ” (Sahlberg2016,p.135).Thisworldwide “ general consensus ”  has meant that an ever-grow-ingnumberofeducational systems haveincreasedinstructional time for literacy, numeracy, and sci-ence subjects to the detriment of other subjectssuch as social studies, arts, and music and thedevelopment of so-called non-cognitive skills,traditionally inherent to the humanist educationalendeavor. This recon fi guration in terms of thecurriculum and the overall aims of educationleads to the same harmful consequences asdescribed above for low-SES and marginalizedstudents.The fourth GEP trend is the transpositionof techniques, common sense, and planning pro-cedures from the private corporate world to theeducation sector, especially in terms of manage-ment at both the school and system levels.Examplesincludeperformance-basedpay,teacher and principal assessment based on measurableresults, value-added models for hiring and  fi ringteachers and principals or other personnel-relateddecisions, and data-driven instruction (based onstudent test scores), among others. This trendhas gained salience as part of the new publicmanagement-inspired criticism of schools and,more broadly, the idea that state agents and agen-cies are ineffective and inef  fi cient actors andorganizations that lack clear performance-ori-ented incentives. In this context, private organiza-tions  –   and private schools, in particular   –   areconsidered blueprints for managerial activity that will lead to increased student achievement. Inter-estingly, however, evidence is conclusive inaf  fi rming that the better performance frequentlyfound in private schools is not related to their  private nature nor their managerial approach but rather to the above-average socioeconomic statusof the students that these schools target and serve.At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically,some typical private sector managerial practicesare at the core of both better performance at theindividual level and school segregation at theaggregate level, as when schools seek to attract  4 Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction  those students who will allow them to producethe best results (i.e., highest test scores) without requiring costly services. Of course, such strate-gies  –   which can be labeled as resource-use max-imization by means of student selection  –   further increase inequity on a system-wide basis and con-tribute to social reproduction.Finally,andrelatedly,the fi fthGEPtrendhastodo with the adoption of test-based accountability policies that aim at holding teachers and schoolleaders accountable for students ’  achievement.Besides consumer-based accountability dynamicsstemming from the introduction of market mech-anisms in educational systems (and which aredirected at schools), test-based accountabilityregimes have been increasingly adopted asmeans of monitoring school professionals ’  labor.In clear interdependence with some of the trendsdescribed above, these accountability regimes are based on the ideas that teachers and principalshave to deliver on improving student achievement in compliance with set performance targets andthat student achievement can be measured objec-tively by means of standardized tests. Most of thearchitectureoftheseregimesreliesonthelogicsof monetaryrewards andpunishments,often enactedthrough merit-based pay models with students ’ scores in standardized tests being the only or main indicator of merit. The problem with test- based accountability is that it may be considered both illegitimate and shortsighted to hold school professionals accountable for results that areimpossible to achieve; extremely simplistic interms of the indicators used; conceptually ques-tionable in terms of whether or not they actuallyre fl ect   “ learning, ” “ achievement, ”  or   “ skills ” ; or,most often, dependent on variables that are beyond schools ’  control. In that test-basedaccountability often speci fi es the achievement or  pro fi ciency threshold that students are expectedto reach, these policies frequently lead teachersto focus on  “  bubble ”  students, that is, studentswho are on the cusp of reaching the test result cutoff score that is needed for compliance. Theimplication is that students who are either far  below or above the desired score are likely toreceive less attention from the teacher. Conclusions Despiteboldclaimsmade byproponentsofGEPs,especially regarding their supposedly innovativenatureandcapacitytoprovidethemostvulnerable population with new educational opportunities,their results are not broadly distributed  –   and areassociated with reproduction on multiple levels.First, GEPs tend to reproduce the establishedworld order in that they do not favor the produc-tion of bottom-up, contextualized policy frame-works, especially in peripheral developingcountries. In many cases, the standards, ratio-nales, or principles guiding GEPs are de fi ned inthe  “ developed ”  countries of the world, with theseGEPs then being exported to low-income coun-tries that try to adapt to the reform trends and thenmeasure themselves against the outcomes that areachieved by countries with more resources. A prime example is PISA, which has recently beenadapted for implementation in low-income coun-tries. Other examples include various forms of  privatization and PPPs. While these policies leadto inequality and social reproduction within coun-tries, as noted above, the point here is that theynecessarily reinforce inequality across countriesas well.Second, GEPs are related to the reproductionof the hierarchy of international organizations andtypes of evidence in the policymaking  fi eld.In the context of an increasing pressure to use “ evidence ”  to inform policy decisions, govern-ments tend to be more exposed to certain  fl owsand types of evidence, especially those that are produced by certain international organizationswith the capacity and resources to engage in thede fi nition of social problems and policy solutionsand to produce the corresponding authoritativediscourse that shapes which approaches to publicmanagement are seen as desirable on a globalscale.Third, since many GEPs rely  –   directly or indirectly  –   on market mechanisms, they arerelated to dynamics of reproduction of inequityat the local level. As widely evidenced, schoolchoice and competition and other market-oriented programs and policies are especially problematicin terms of education inequalities, inclusion, and Global Education Policy, Innovation, and Social Reproduction 5
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